This gallery contains 1 photo.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Shimon Peres was being laid to rest on Friday in a ceremony attended by thousands of admirers and dozens of international dignitaries — in a final tribute to a man who personified the history of Israel during a remarkable seven-decade political career and who came to be seen by many as a visionary and symbol of hopes of Mideast peace.
U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas headlined a long list of world leaders who converged on Israel’s national cemetery, Mount Herzl, for the event. In a nod to the Palestinian leader, Abbas sat in the front row at the memorial service.
In a heartfelt eulogy, Obama said that Peres showed that “justice and hope” are at the heart of Israel’s Zionist ideals.
“Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled,” Obama said. “And yet he did not stop dreaming, and he did not stop working.”
Obama described the unlikely friendship he forged with Peres given their vastly different backgrounds.
“It was so surprising to see the two of us, where we had started, talking together in the White House, meeting here in Israel,” he said. “I think both of us understood that we were here only because in some way we reflected the magnificent story of our nations.”
He said Peres never tired, never dwelled on the past, and always seemed to have another project in the works.
“It is that faith, that optimism, that belief, even when all the evidence is to the contrary, that tomorrow can be better that makes us not just honor Shimon Peres, but love him,” he said.
“The last of the founding generation is now gone,” he added. “Toda rabah haver yakar,” he said, Hebrew for “thank you so much dear friend.”
Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who held every major office in Israel, including president and prime minister, died Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke. He was 93.
Friday’s funeral was Israel’s largest gathering of international dignitaries since the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Peres’ partner in peace, who was killed by a Jewish nationalist in 1995. The funeral created numerous logistical and security challenges, and roads, including the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, were closed.
In an emotional eulogy, Clinton described Peres as a “wide champion of our common humanity.”
Clinton was president when Peres negotiated a historic interim peace accord with the Palestinians in 1993. He described a warm, 25-year friendship and dismissed critics who described Peres as a naive dreamer. He recalled a meeting with Peres where Israeli and Arab children sang together John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
“He started life as Israel’s brightest student, became its best teacher and ended up its biggest dreamer,” said Clinton.
“He lived 93 years in a state of constant wonder over the unbelievable potential of all the rest of us to rise above our wounds, our resentments, our fears to make the most of today and claim the promise of tomorrow,” he said.
It was an emotional return for Clinton, who eulogized Rabin at the same spot in Jerusalem following his assassination 21 years ago.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the gathering of world leaders was a testament to Peres’ optimism, quest for peace and love for Israel. “He was a great man of Israel. He was a great man of the world. Israel grieves for him. The world grieves for him,” Netanyahu said.
Peres, Israel’s leading dove, and the hard-line Netanyahu were fierce political rivals and had vastly different world visions. But Netanyahu said they enjoyed a strong personal relationship and described Peres as a man of vision.
“I loved you. We all loved you. Farewell Shimon. Dear man. Great leader,” he said.
Peres’ casket lay in state on Thursday outside the parliament building, where thousands of people, including Clinton, came to pay their respects. Early Friday, an honor guard escorted the casket, together with Peres’ family, along the short route to the cemetery.
After the funeral, the casket was led to the gravesite carried by eight members of an honor guard and led by soldiers carrying wreaths. Netanyahu and Obama chatted along the way, also talking with Peres’ family.
An Israeli flag was removed from the casket as it was lowered into the ground in a plot alongside two other prime ministers, Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir.
With dignitaries seated around, soldiers passed bags of dirt to each other to cover the casket, and a military cantor recited the prayer for the dead. After it was in the ground, it was covered in wreaths.
The United States delegation also included Secretary of State John Kerry and about 20 members of Congress and several administration officials. French President Francois Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, German President Joachim Gauck and scores of other world leaders also attended the funeral.
While Peres is viewed in the West as a visionary advocate for peace, his legacy in the Arab world is mixed and reaction has been subdued. Animosity toward Israel remains strong in the Arab world, especially at a time of deadlock in peace efforts, and Peres is still associated with wars and settlement construction that took place during his lengthy career.
Abbas, however, was one of the lone Arab voices to express his sadness over Peres’ death, and his aides say he wanted to recognize Peres for his years of efforts to promote peace. Abbas and Netanyahu, who have barely spoken to one another during the past seven years, shook hands and briefly chatted at the ceremony. Abbas greeted the families of Peres and Rabin, shaking hands and hugging dovish Israeli leaders before he was seated in the front row.
In an unprecedented seven-decade political career, Peres was credited with leading the country through some of its most defining moments: creating what is believed to be a nuclear arsenal in the 1950s; disentangling its troops from Lebanon and rescuing its economy from triple-digit inflation in the 1980s; and guiding a skeptical nation into peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s.
A protege of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first prime minister, Peres served in parliament for nearly half a century, held every major Cabinet post, including defense, finance and foreign affairs, and served three brief stints as prime minister. He was the country’s elder statesman as its ceremonial president between 2007 and 2014.
Peres created his non-governmental Peres Center for Peace, which raised funds and ran programs for cooperation and development projects involving Israel, the Palestinians and Arab nations. He was a huge proponent of Israeli technology and innovation, and gained international recognition as a globe-trotting celebrity preaching peace and coexistence.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
JERUSALEM (AP) — President Barack Obama hailed Shimon Peres Friday as a man who showed the world that justice and hope are at the heart of the Zionist ideal and saw “all people as deserving of dignity and respect.”
Wearing a Jewish skullcap as a sign of respect and reverence, Obama said in his eulogy that Peres understood the Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews and therefore must be equal in self-determination.
“Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled,” noted Obama, speaking at Israel’s national cemetery, Mount Herzl. He said Peres believed that the Zionist idea would be protected when Palestinians had a state of their own.
“The region is going through a chaotic time,” the president said. “Threats are ever-present and yet he did not stop dreaming and he did not stop working.”
Obama noted that he was the 10th U.S president to meet Peres and “fall prey to his charms.” In many ways, he said that Peres reminded him of other giants like Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth, leaders “who speak with depth and knowledge, not in sound bites.”
Former President Bill Clinton, in his eulogy, said he always was in Peres’ endless capacity to move beyond the most crushing setbacks to seize the possibilities of each new day. “He never gave up on anybody, I mean anybody,” Clinton said.
Obama said that he and Peres, about four decades apart in age, shared a love of works and books and history. When they met at the White House and then in Israel, he said, they both understood they were there only because they reflected the magnificent story of the nations they led.
“The last of the founding generation is now gone,” Obama said, speaking just to the left of Peres’ casket draped in blue and white. Peres died at 93 Wednesday, two weeks after suffering a stroke.
Peres, whose name is synonymous with Israel’s history, served stints as prime minister, president and foreign minister. He welcomed Obama on his first trip to Israel as president in 2013, as the two men sought to restart a peace process with the Palestinians that has so far failed.
The United States delegation included Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry and about 20 members of Congress and several administration officials.
Air Force One landed in Tel Aviv early at daybreak Friday and Obama was expected to return shortly after the service from his second visit to Israel as president.
The two leaders enjoyed a friendly relationship and a mutual admiration of the other’s intellect and intentions. Upon his passing, Obama said no one did more over the years than Peres to build the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. Obama said the alliance is stronger than ever, notwithstanding tensions over Obama’s pursuit of an agreement designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
The two leaders shared similar visions for a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peres’ son-in-law and personal physician, Dr. Rafi Walden, said Obama had called the family overnight on Wednesday during Peres’ final hours and spoke to Peres’ daughter, Tzvia. “We are deeply moved,” Walden said.
Obama awarded Peres the Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in 2012, saying “Shimon teaches us to never settle for the world as it is.”
In turn, Peres bestowed the Medal of Distinction on Obama, making him the first sitting U.S. president to receive Israel’s highest civilian honor.
“This award speaks to you, to your tireless work to make Israel strong, to make peace possible,” Peres said in 2013. “Your presidency has given the closest ties between Israel and the United States a new height, a sense of intimacy, a vision for the future.”
Those who worked with both men said they shared mutual respect and affection.
“Even a man into his 90s, Peres was always thinking about the future,” said Dennis Ross, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former adviser to Obama. “I think that captured the president’s imagination and added to the respect for him.”
Ross, who said he spoke often with Peres during the past three decades, said the Israeli leader believed that Obama’s heart was in the right place. But “he wasn’t always convinced that the president fully understood the nature of Israel’s predicament in the region,” Ross said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, talks with US President Barack Obama at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery during the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. Shimon Peres was being laid to rest on Friday in a ceremony attended by thousands of admirers and dozens of international dignitaries — in a final tribute to a man who personified the history of Israel during a remarkable seven-decade political career and who came to be seen by many as a potent symbol of hopes of Mideast peace. (Menahem Kahana, Pool via AP)
This gallery contains 1 photo.
HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) — Federal investigators are sifting through the wreckage of a train crash in New Jersey to determine what happened before it barreled through a station and crashed into a barrier, causing a young mother to be killed by falling debris and injuring more than 100 others.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will be looking to determine how fast the commuter train was going when it crashed at the busy Hoboken station Thursday morning.
Their investigation will seek to answer many questions, including whether a system designed to prevent accidents by overriding the engineer and automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast could have helped if it had been installed on the line.
Investigators planned to pull one of the black-box event recorders from the locomotive at the back of the train Thursday evening. The device contains information on the train’s speed and braking. But it wasn’t safe enough yet for investigators to extract the second recorder from the engineer’s compartment because of the collapsed roof and the possibility of asbestos in the old building, NTSB vice chairwoman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said.
More than 100,000 people use New Jersey Transit to commute from New Jersey to New York City each day. The NJ Transit portion of the Hoboken station will remain closed on Friday, slowing the morning commute for those making connections there.
As investigators began their probe, the family of Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, the crash’s sole fatality, was in mourning. De Kroon had recently moved to New Jersey from Brazil after her husband got a job with an international liquor company.
She had just dropped her toddler daughter off at daycare before rushing to catch a train, according to daycare director Karlos Magner.
“She was dropping off the daughter, I was closing up the stroller,” he recalled. “We had a good talk for like a minute. And she said she was in a rush.”
Shortly after, the NJ Transit train ran off the end of the track as it was pulling in around 8:45 a.m., smashing through a concrete-and-steel bumper. As it ground to a halt in the waiting area, it knocked out pillars, collapsing a section of the roof.
De Kroon was killed by debris, and 108 others were injured, mostly on the train, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. Scores were hospitalized, some with serious injuries including broken bones.
The engineer, Thomas Gallagher, was pulled from the mangled first car and was treated and released from a hospital. Officials said he was cooperating with investigators. Gallagher has worked for NJ Transit for 29 years, and a union roster shows he started as an engineer about 18 years ago.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said investigators will determine whether the explanation was equipment failure, an incapacitated engineer or something else.
Some witnesses said they didn’t hear or feel the brakes being applied before the crash. Authorities would not estimate how fast the train was going. But the speed limit heading into the station is 10 mph.
“The train came in at much too high rate of speed, and the question is: ‘Why is that?'” Christie said.
Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the role that the lack of positive train control played or didn’t play in the tragedy.
The NTSB has been pressing for some version of the technology for at least 40 years, and the industry is under government orders to install it, but regulators have repeatedly extended the deadline at railroads’ request. The target date is now the end of 2018.
Over the past 20 years, the NTSB has listed the lack of positive train control as a contributing factor in 25 crashes. Those include the Amtrak wreck last year in Philadelphia in which a speeding train ran off the rails along a curve. Eight people were killed.
In 2011, a Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH, commuter train crash in a separate section of the Hoboken station injured more than 30 people. The NTSB found the engineer failed to control the speed of the train as it entered the station and investigators also determined a contributing factor was the absence of positive train control.
“They’ll have to answer for themselves, but at the end of the day if safety is job one … then you have to have a better record than New Jersey Transit has right now,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, noting that the transit agency said in a 2016 report with the Federal Railroad Administration that it didn’t have positive train control on any locomotive or segment of track.
“That means zero across the board,” he said. “They need to do better than zero across the board.”
A spokeswoman for NJ Transit referred all questions about the investigation, including questions about positive train control, to the NTSB.
Even without positive train control, there are still safeguards in place in Hoboken.
NJ Transit trains have an in-cab system that is designed to alert engineers and stop locomotives when they go over 20 mph, according to an NJ Transit engineer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the accident.
Trains like the one in Thursday’s crash also are equipped with an alerter system — a sort of dead man’s device — that sounds a loud alarm and eventually stops the train if the engineer goes 15 to 20 seconds without touching the controls.
But it was unclear whether those mechanisms kicked in or would have made a difference if they had.
Michael Larson, an NJ Transit employee working in the terminal about 30 feet away, said he saw the train go over the “bumper block” and lift up into the air, stopping only when it hit the wall of the station’s waiting room.
As the train hurtled into the depot amid concrete dust and dangling electrical wires, “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said.
Tom Spina, a maintenance supervisor for a private company was in the terminal after having worked the night.
“It was chaotic. There was yelling and screaming, a lot of people in shock,” Spina said. “Things like this we see in movies,” Spina said. “You don’t think you’re going to see it in real life.”
This Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 photo provided by a passenger who was on the train when it crashed shows wreckage at the Hoboken, N.J. rail station. The commuter train barreled into the station during the morning rush hour, coming to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform. (AP Photo)
Sisak reported from Philadelphia. Associated Press writers David Porter and Josh Cornfield in Hoboken; Deepti Hajela in Morris Plains; Megan Trimble in Philadelphia; Jennifer Peltz and Verena Dobnik in New York; and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
NEW YORK (AP) — Just because Congress has allowed Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it had a role in the terror attacks doesn’t mean such a case will ever go before a jury.
Already, a federal judge has blasted the legal case at the heart of the debate as notoriously weak and full of “largely boilerplate” accusations. And the revised law that passed this week over President Barack Obama’s veto gives the Justice Department sweeping authority to put the case on hold and fails to eliminate sovereign immunity from protecting Saudi Arabia’s assets.
“The bill really is the worst of both worlds — everything Saudi Arabia complained about and very little of what the plaintiffs thought they were getting,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who has closely tracked the litigation for nearly a dozen years.
Still, some families are enjoying a victory, including Kathy Owens, whose husband, Peter, died in the 2001 attacks.
“If our government had investigated and prosecuted the financiers of 9/11, we wouldn’t have had to do it,” said Owens, among a group of victims’ relatives who traveled to Washington to stage a rally and work the halls of Congress.
Claims — and the kingdom’s denials — of Saudi involvement in the 2001 attacks have swirled for years.
Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudis, and U.S. investigators looked into some Saudi diplomats and others with Saudi government ties who had contact with the hijackers after they arrived in the U.S., according to now-declassified documents. The 9/11 Commission report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks’ al-Qaida masterminded, but the commission also noted “the likelihood” that Saudi-government-sponsored charities did.
So far, hundreds of victims’ relatives have signed on to the 12-year-old case, which accuses employees of the Saudi government of directly and knowingly assisting the attack’s hijackers and plotters and of fueling al-Qaida’s development into a terrorist organization by funding charities that supported them.
U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan last year criticized much of the new evidence that lawyers for families say has emerged to strengthen their claims, including offers to testify at a trial from the imprisoned Zacarias Moussaoui — known as the “20th hijacker.”
In tossing out Saudi Arabia as a defendant, Daniels called some of the new claims “entirely conclusory” and others “largely boilerplate.” The case was on appeal, but based on Congress’ intervention, it will now likely be returned to the lower court, and the same judge.
Still, plaintiffs say just airing their argument in court would be a victory in itself. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” said Alice Hoagland, who lost her son, Mark Bingham.
But they also are hoping for a financial award: “It’s the only tool that I know that we have” to make accountability hit home, Owens said.
The Saudi government has said it has been “wrongfully and morbidly accused of complicity,” in fighting extremists and is trying to close their funding channels. Officials staunchly opposed the lawsuit legislation, and Obama has said it “would be detrimental to U.S. national interests.”
Plaintiffs such as Owens don’t buy that argument: “It’s asking us to accept the murder of 3,000 people so we don’t get sued someday?” They suggest the administration’s real concern is protecting what the families see as an unworthy ally.
But some other 9/11 relatives think it’s a mistake to try to cram the complexities of 9/11 into a courtroom.
Donald Goodrich, who lost his son Peter, has “a powerful doubt that any fact not now known will significantly change the picture for me.” A civil trial lawyer himself, he notes that a jury would be focusing on a specific aspect of Sept. 11, not weighing it within the broader consideration of international relations and national security.
“I want to leave it where it belongs … and not color it and potentially tip the balance of it through a private litigation process,” Goodrich said. “The things that are needed to keep us safe are so very different from the issues that are going to be tried in the lawsuit.”
This gallery contains 1 photo.
CAIRO (AP) — An international rights group expressed alarm Friday over the fate of hundreds of Libyan and foreign nationals trapped for months amid fighting in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Amnesty International said that nearly 130 families and hundreds of foreigners in the southwestern Benghazi neighborhood of Ganfouda have been cut off from the outside world, with dwindling food and fuel supplies.
“Time is running out for civilians in Ganfouda, who are being left to die trapped by the fighting,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Program.
The fighting has raged in Benghazi since 2014 when forces commanded by powerful military commander Khalifa Hifter began a campaign against militants there, including branches of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Hifter, supported by British, French, and American military advisers and special forces, has managed to take control over much of the city. Ganfouda is one of the few districts where the militants have put up fierce resistance against Hifter’s National Libyan Army forces.
However, international groups have been appealing for the creation of safe corridors to evacuate civilians trapped in Ganfouda.
Amnesty quoted a resident who identified himself as Mohamed as saying that residents are in desperate need for humanitarian supplies, especially the youngest residents.
“The children look like skin and bones because of the lack of food and poor nutrition . If they could just drop us some food for the children or get them out of here, even if that meant leaving the rest of us, that would be fine,” he said.
Residents have taken to hosting displaced families whose houses were destroyed by airstrikes and shelling.
“We’re living like animals,” according to another resident whom Amnesty identified as Samir. He added that he has taken three families into his house bringing the number of residents to 24.
Amnesty feared that civilians caught in crossfire are facing mass punishment, under the pretext that they are supporters or sympathizers of the extremist Islamic militants.
“Civilians should not be used as human shields, and those who wish to leave must be protected from arbitrary detention, torture or any other abuses,” said Mughrabi.
FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2016 file photo, a civilian fighter holding the Libyan flag stands in front of damaged buildings in Benghazi, Libya. Amnesty International, an international rights group expressed alarm Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, over the fate of hundreds of Libyan and foreign nationals trapped for months amid fighting in the eastern city of Benghazi. Amnesty International said that nearly 130 families and hundreds of foreigners in the southwestern Benghazi neighborhood of Ganfouda have been cut off from the outside world, with dwindling food and fuel supplies. (AP Photo/Mohammed el-Shaiky, File)
This gallery contains 1 photo.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A private golf course in South Korea’s southeast has been chosen as the new site for an advanced U.S. missile defense system to be deployed by the end of next year to protect against North Korean threats, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Friday.
South Korean military officials in July originally picked a nearby artillery base in the rural farming town of Seongju as the site for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.
But Seongju residents fiercely protested the plan, expressing concern over potential health hazards they believe the system’s powerful radar might cause.
The golf course owned by South Korea’s Lotte business group is also within Seongju, but located farther from the town’s main residential areas. However, residents of Gimcheon city, which borders the course, have protested the expected move.
The new site was selected after a month-long inspection and was approved by the defense ministers of both the United States and South Korea, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. A ministry note provided to lawmakers described the golf course as ideal because it would require less construction than two other possible sites that were on mountains.
The ministry plans to start discussions on buying the course from Lotte, which said in a statement that it will “positively consider” the proposal.
“We sincerely request the people of our country and residents in concerned areas to understand our patriotism and provide us support,” the ministry said.
Ministry officials began exploring alternative sites after President Park Geun-hye promised in August to consider a new location to “lessen the anxiety” of residents in Seongju. Weeks earlier, angry protesters had pelted her prime minister with eggs and plastic bottles and blocked his bus for several hours during a visit to Seongju to explain the decision to residents.
U.S. and South Korean officials say they need the missile system to better deal with increasing North Korean military threats. After North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test to date earlier this month, experts raised worries that the country is moving closer toward gaining the ability to put nuclear warheads on a variety of ballistic missiles.
The plan to deploy THAAD in South Korea has angered not only North Korea but also China, which suspects that the system would allow U.S. radar to better track its missiles. Russia also opposes the deployment.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing Friday that China continues to oppose the deployment.
“The United States deploying THAAD in South Korea not only does not serve the purposes it seeks, it also affects the security in the region as well as China’s,” Geng said. “We urge both sides to reconsider this move.”
U.S. and South Korean officials say the THAAD system targets only North Korea.
This Aug. 27, 2016 photo shows the golf course of Lotte Skyhill Seongju Country Club in Seongju, South Korea. The private golf course in the country’s southeast region was chosen as the new site for an advanced U.S. missile defense system to be deployed by the end of next year to help cope with North Korean threats, South Korean military officials said Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. (Yonhap via AP) KOREA OUT
Associated Press writer Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Global stock markets were sharply lower Friday as investor sentiment was dented by renewed worries about the financial health of Deutsche Bank following reports that some hedge funds were moving their businesses out of Germany’s biggest bank.
KEEPING SCORE: European stocks started lower. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.1 percent to 6,847.05 while France’s CAC 40 sank 1.7 percent to 4,366.89. Germany’s DAX lost 1.6 percent to 10,243.71. Futures augured a tepid start on Wall Street. S&P futures and Dow futures both lost 0.2 percent.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Risk sentiment waned overnight as worries about global banks weighed on markets,” said Alex Wijaya, senior sales trader at CMC Markets in Singapore. “Stock markets worldwide are rattled by the latest development at Deutsche Bank.”
BANK WOES: Shares of Deutsche Bank nosedived to below 10 euros a share for the first time after reports said some hedge funds have taken measures to reduce risks associated with the German bank. The company has been a source of concerns for investors for weeks since U.S. authorities disclosed that they are seeking $14 billion from the bank to settle legal claims over its sales of mortgage securities in 2007 and 2008. The bank said it had struck a deal to sell a subsidiary and stressed that it was not seeking government help, but investors are worried about what will happen to Germany’s biggest lender and to the broader financial system if Deutsche Bank runs low on capital. Analysts said the bank’s troubles are raising scrutiny over other banks in Europe, which are also in talks regarding mortgage settlements with U.S. authorities.
CHINA OUTPUT: The Caixin monthly purchasing managers’ index, which is closely watched for insights into China’s economy, ticked up to 50.1 for September from the previous month’s 50.0 reading. The tiny expansion in activity and gains in overall new orders for the third straight month offered a glimmer of hope for the world’s second-largest economy that has been grappling with a prolonged slowdown. But the private survey result was not strong enough to relieve investors outside China.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 slumped 1.5 percent to 16,449.84 and South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.2 percent to 2,043.63. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 1.9 percent to 23,297.15. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.7 percent to 5,435.90. China’s Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.2 percent to 3,004.70. Stocks in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries were lower.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 54 cents to $47.29 per barrel in New York. The contract gained 78 cents, or 1.7 percent, to close at $47.83 a barrel on Thursday. Oil prices surged earlier this week after the nations of OPEC, which collectively produce more than third of the world’s oil, agreed to a small cut in production in a surprise decision. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 61 cents to $49.20 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 101.03 yen from 101.16 yen while the euro weakened to $1.118 from $1.122.
BERLIN (AP) — Worries over the financial stability of Deutsche Bank returned to the fore Friday, sending shares in Germany’s biggest bank to a record low and rekindling broader concerns about Europe’s financial sector.
Reports that hedge funds are moving their business out of the bank were the catalyst to the latest sell-off. At one moment in frenzied early trading, the bank’s stock fell another 8 percent to below 10 euros a share for the first time, before recovering somewhat to trade 4.3 percent lower at 10.42 euros.
Deutsche Bank has been a growing concern for investors since U.S. authorities two weeks ago said they are seeking $14 billion from the bank to settle legal claims over its sales of mortgage securities, complex investments that were one of the key causes of the global financial crisis in 2008.
With the German government giving no sign it would be prepared to offer a bailout, and the bank heavily exposed to risky investments, notably in the derivatives markets, investors have grown increasingly jittery. That worry was relieved only temporarily by Deutsche Bank’s move this week to sell an insurance subsidiary for just over 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) to shore up its capital buffers.
The latest unease over Deutsche Bank stemmed from reports that about 10 hedge funds had taken measure to reduce their exposure to the bank.
The turmoil prompted Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan to issue an open letter to employees in which he says the news about the hedge funds is “causing unjustified concerns” and should be seen in the wider context of the bank’s 20 million clients.
“It is our task now to prevent distorted perception from further interrupting our daily business. Trust is the foundation of banking. Some forces in the markets are currently trying to damage this trust.”
The bank, he insisted, is fundamentally strong, is meetings its capital requirements, is profitable and has “an extremely comfortable buffer” when it comes to liquidity, with reserves of more than 215 billion euros ($241 billion).
“There is therefore no basis for this speculation,” Cryan said. “Nor can uncertainty about the outcome of our litigation cases in the U.S. explain this pressure on our stock price, if we take the settlements of our peers as a benchmark.” U.S. bank Goldman Sachs, for example, paid a $5 billion settlement in a similar U.S. investigation.
Though Cryan’s words seemed to have helped limit the damage in the markets Friday, analysts said it’s difficult for a bank to turn around its fortunes once it has been tainted by speculation of financial trouble.
“In banking, perception is everything, and in times of stress investors tend to shoot first and ask questions later and when confidence starts to leak away the ensuing drip can very quickly turn into a waterfall ,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
The wider worry, which has sent stock markets across Europe sharply lower on Friday, is that Deutsche Bank may prove to be a “Lehman moment” for the European banking sector. In September 2008, the U.S. government made clear that it was not going to bail out investment bank Lehman Brothers when it was in huge difficulty. Because Lehman was connected to many other banks, the decision to let it fall proved fateful: it triggered a collapse of confidence in the global financial system that pushed the world economy into its deepest recession since World War II.
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there will be no state bailout, but this might be a case of ‘famous last words’, as the history of banking crises often shows that major banks cannot be allowed to fail for fear of systemic risk affecting the financial system and negatively impacting the real economy,” said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.
That’s why many experts expect some sort of deal to help the bank, should it be needed. That may see bondholders take a hit or a possible merger of the bank with Commerzbank, which has its own financial problems.
The German government is also expected to pressure U.S. authorities to reduce the fine, as it would be in no one’s interest for one of the world’s most systemically important banks to go under.
One major difference to 2008 is that the European Central Bank has a range of tools to shore up liquidity in banks under its jurisdiction, the 19 countries that use the euro. As a result, Deutsche Bank should be able to avoid a funding squeeze and a potential run on deposits.
MacKinnon says that’s not enough, though, and that the European banking sector is likely to remain under stress given the absence of much-needed efforts to restructure and raise money.
Shares in banks across the region were under pressure. Commerzbank was down 6 percent, Italy’s UniCredit 4.4 percent and Spain-based Banco Santander 3.7 percent.
“It is insufficient just for the central bank to provide unlimited liquidity,” he said. “As a result, investors need to be mindful of the potential for a market upset in the near term.”
If Friday’s stock market response is any indication, investors are heeding that advice.
Pylas reported from London.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) — A commuter train plowed into the bustling Hoboken rail station during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring more than 100 others, some critically, in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.
Witnesses reported seeing one woman trapped under concrete and many people bleeding after the arriving New Jersey Transit train crashed through a barrier at the end of the track. The train came to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform, collapsing a section of the metal shed roof.
Nancy Bido, a passenger on the train, told WNBC-TV in New York that the train didn’t slow as it pulled into the station. “It just never stopped. It was going really fast, and the terminal was basically the brake for the train,” she said.
The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators.
Hoboken, which is NJ Transit’s fifth-busiest station with 15,000 boardings per weekday, is situated just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.
Democratic Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who represents Hoboken, said transit officials told him one person has died and two were critically injured. He didn’t know whether the fatality and critical injuries were on the train or platform.
Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said earlier, “We have multiple injuries, multiple critical injuries right now.” Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken,
She said she doesn’t know yet how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper. TV footage and photos from the scene showed the rail car was mangled.
Rich Scardaville, who was aboard the train, told the Wall Street Journal that it approached the station normally but suddenly “lurched forward at the last minute.”
Then, he said, there was an “ungodly loud bang, like an explosion” before the lights went off and “everyone went flying.”
Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into the Hoboken station. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.
“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah told WNBC-TV in New York. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”
Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told the Wall Street Journal that transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.'”
The train had left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and crashed at 8:45 a.m., said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
“It simply did not stop,” WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”
NJ Transit provides more than 200 million passenger trips annually on bus, rail and light rail lines. More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.
A crash at the same station on a different train line injured more than 30 people in 2011. The PATH commuter train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks on a Sunday morning.
This photo provided by Ian Samuel shows the scene of a train crash in Hoboken, N.J., on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. A commuter train barreled into the New Jersey rail station during the Thursday morning rush hour, causing serious damage. The train came to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform. A metal structure covering the area collapsed. ( Ian Samuel via AP)
This story has been corrected to show Hoboken is directly across the Hudson River from New York City.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzNewsRoom / NYT) —- A Dutch-led investigation has concluded that the powerful surface-to-air missile system used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine two years ago, killing all 298 on board, was trucked in from Russia at the request of Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night.
The report largely confirmed the Russian government’s already widely documented role not only in the deployment of the missile system — called a Buk, or SA-11 — but also in the subsequent cover-up, which continues to this day.
The report, by a team of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, was significant for applying standards of evidence admissible in court while still building a case directly implicating Russia, and it is likely to open a long diplomatic and legal struggle.
With meticulous detail, working with cellphone records, social media, witness accounts and other evidence, the prosecutors traced Russia’s role in deploying the missile system into Ukraine and its attempts to cover its tracks afterward. The inquiry did not name individual culprits and stopped short of saying that Russian soldiers were involved.
Announcing their findings at a news conference in Nieuwegein, in the Netherlands, the investigators were clear, however, that they planned to identify suspects and to determine who they think gave the orders and what their intentions were, in preparation for bringing criminal indictments.
The evidence presented in the report strongly implicated the Russian authorities in a broad sense. The inquiry was the most detailed investigation to date of the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 flying to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, from Amsterdam. It is unlikely that anyone not connected with the Russian military would have been able to deploy an SA-11 missile launcher from Russia into a neighboring country.
But in implicating Russia, the report raised perhaps a bigger question: What does the Netherlands plan to do about that?
Russia, a nuclear-armed superpower, has already vetoed a Dutch-backed request to the United Nations to establish an international tribunal. Russia’s Constitution, in any case, prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens to stand trial abroad. And in the vanishingly unlikely event that suspects are handed over, it is unclear where they would stand trial.
The prosecutors’ findings could be a factor in whether the European Union softens sanctions against Russia, but some members are already chafing at their effect on trade and calling for resuming full economic cooperation.
Fred Westerbeke, the chief investigator, said that some evidence was being withheld on Wednesday to avoid alerting suspects, and also that more information was needed to build an open-and-shut case against individual suspects and to diagram the chain of command behind the order to deploy and launch.
“We cannot and do not want to tell you everything yet, as that might play into the perpetrators’ hands,” he said, according to a translation. He invited witnesses from eastern Ukraine to come forward, saying they might be granted leniency in exchange for testimony. Identifying the suspects, Mr. Westerbeke said, was a question “for the long haul.”
The report brought to light intriguing new evidence of the missile launcher’s route from Russia to Ukraine and back to Russia, if not identifying precisely who ordered that journey.
Investigators suggested that a cooperating witness was a rebel soldier who had guarded the missile convoy on its quick return to Russia after the launch.
They published new photographs of the launcher, perched on its flatbed trailer, being towed around eastern Ukraine by a white Volvo truck that had been commandeered from a heavy-equipment rental company in Donetsk.
The investigators said they had found a missile nose cone and fin by sifting through thousands of pieces of debris from the crash scene, listened to about 150,000 intercepted telephone calls and examined half a million photographs.
One of the eeriest pieces of evidence emerged last year and was highlighted again on Wednesday. The pilots had no chance of saving the plane, and were perhaps the first to die, because the missile exploded yards from the cockpit. But one carried to earth in his body a pivotal clue: a butterfly-shaped piece of shrapnel, a trace from a type of warhead installed in Buk missiles in Russia’s arsenal, but not Ukraine’s. Both countries possess Buk missiles, but the model types are distinct.
It would have been a hard piece of evidence to fake. Plastered onto the shrapnel shard, investigators said, were microscopic traces of glass of the type used by Boeing on its airliner cockpits, indicating clearly that it had passed through the plane’s windshield before lodging in the pilot’s body.
In Moscow on Wednesday, in anticipation of the report, President Vladimir V. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, issued a statement to reporters decrying “speculation” about the plane, but it did not refer specifically to the report.
“This whole story, unfortunately, is couched in a huge amount of speculation, unqualified and unprofessional information,” Mr. Peskov said. “There are irrefutable facts. In this case, it is important to draw conclusions with due account of the latest published information, that is, the primary data from radars that detected every airborne object that could take off or be in the airspace above militia-controlled territory.”
Those radar images, released by the Russian military on Monday, showed nothing near the airliner, Mr. Peskov said. “If any missile had existed, it could have been fired only from another territory,” he said. “I do not say which exact territory it could be. It is specialists’ business.”
The Dutch-led inquiry seemed to refute that claim, as well as a series of sometimes contradictory explanations and chains of events floated by the Kremlin and the Russian news media. Those claims included that the C.I.A. filled a drone with bodies and crashed it to discredit Russia, or that Ukrainians were trying to shoot down Mr. Putin’s plane but hit the civilian airliner instead.
The radar images released this week contradicted a similar image that Russian officials showed two years ago, which depicted two dots: one for the airliner and a second for a Ukrainian fighter jet that Russia suggested could have shot it down. At the news conference, the investigators said Russia had not responded to their request for “primary original radar data.”
Flight 17 was destroyed on July 17, 2014, amid intense fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. The disaster deepened the already strained relations between Russia and the West. Among the casualties, the largest group were Dutch.
Just a few days later, the United States government concluded that the plane had been brought down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory and most likely provided by Russia to pro-Moscow separatists.
The Dutch Safety Board determined in October 2015 that the plane had been shot down by a missile fired from a Buk surface-to-air system.
The report of the Joint Investigation Team, led by Mr. Westerbeke, the Netherlands’ chief public prosecutor, corroborated that finding. It concluded that the weapon used in the attack had been brought to Ukraine from Russia, though it drew no conclusions about who gave the orders to move the weapon or, most important, to shoot.
The investigators did, however, provide a timeline leading up to the destruction of the plane.
First, in intercepted telephone conversations from the evening before the attack, separatists in eastern Ukraine were heard requesting the Buk missile system in order to defend themselves from Ukrainian airstrikes. Later, according to the intercepted conversations, they were told they would receive the weapons system that night.
Second, the investigators found that a convoy of trucks brought the missile system, along with a large military vehicle that is used to launch the missiles, from the Russian border to the spot from which the missile was launched. The team said it had used intercepted phone calls, social media posts and witnesses’ testimony to piece together the route that the convoy took. It stopped in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, where several witnesses saw the trucks, including a white one carrying the missile-launching vehicle.
Third, the inquiry identified a patch of farmland where the missile was launched, about eight miles southeast from where the plane crashed.
Finally, the investigators pieced together what they said was the path the missile system took on its way back to the Russian border. They said they had spoken to a separatist who confirmed part of the return route.
Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to the director of the state-controlled Almaz-Antei consortium speaks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, saying that an analysis of the plane’s shrapnel-ridden fragments show that it couldn’t have been downed by a missile launched from a rebel-controlled area in eastern Ukraine. The Russian maker of the Buk air defense missile system is contesting the conclusions of the Dutch-led investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Somini Sengupta reported from the United Nations, and Andrew E. Kramer from Moscow.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzNewsRoom / NYT) —- The effects of Russia’s bombing campaign in the Syrian city of Aleppo — destroying hospitals and schools, choking off basic supplies, and killing aid workers and hundreds of civilians over just days — raise a question: What could possibly motivate such brutality?
Observers attribute Russia’s bombing to recklessness, cruelty or Moscow’s desperate thrashing in what the White House has called a “quagmire.”
But many analysts take a different view: Russia and its Syrian government allies, they say, could be massacring Aleppo’s civilians as part of a calculated strategy, aimed beyond this one city.
The strategy, more about politics than advancing the battle lines, appears to be designed to pressure rebels to ally themselves with extremists, eroding the rebels’ legitimacy; give Russia veto power over any high-level diplomacy; and exhaust Syrian civilians who might otherwise support the opposition.
This approach could succeed even if pro-government forces never retake Aleppo. A yearlong siege of the city has not brought President Bashar al-Assad’s forces closer to victory. Too weak to win outright, they appear instead to be hedging, trying to weaken the rebels so that they cannot win either, and to ensure any final settlement would be more favorable for Moscow and its allies.
Though killing civilians often backfires in war, in this case it may be all too effective.
Blurring Rebels and Jihadists
Aleppo is a metaphor for the larger war. The northern Syrian city is one of the few remaining strongholds for non-jihadist rebel groups. But months of siege forced them into a terrible choice: turn to extremists for help, or starve. It was no choice at all, and groups such as the jihadist-linked Ahrar al-Sham helped briefly break the siege in August.
Genevieve Casagrande, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, said this was a victory for Russia, and likely its goal. Forcing Aleppo’s rebels to cooperate with jihadists would taint them, making it harder for the West to provide them arms or include them in any peace deal.
“Russia and the regime are driving the radicalization of the opposition on purpose,” Ms. Casagrande said. This will unify and strengthen the opposition in the short term, but in the long term will blur any distinction between jihadists and other rebels.
The United States has tried to counteract this by persuading rebels to reject jihadists, in part by promising support for the opposition and by targeting jihadist militants. But the American approach has drawn the Syrian factions closer together, because rebels like those in Aleppo need urgent support on the ground and only extremist groups are available to provide it.
Removing Alternative Leaders
The endurance of non-jihadist rebel groups poses an even greater threat to the Syrian government than the jihadists because they challenge the Syrian government’s legitimacy.
That legitimacy has been weakened by years of killing civilians, and by the government’s strategy of fostering sectarianism, which leaves it with little support among the country’s majority Sunni population. As long as non-jihadist Sunni Arab rebels are on the battlefield, they can credibly claim to better represent Syrians. This leaves the Syrian leadership, which is dominated by the Alawite religious minority, vulnerable to any peace deal or military intervention that would install a rebel government in its place.
By forcing the rebels to unite with the jihadists, Syria’s government aims to deprive the world of any acceptable alternatives for leading the country.
Russia has a similar weakness. Syria, its last remaining ally in the Middle East, will remain that way only as long as it is led by the Alawite religious minority. Any democratic Syrian government would prominently feature Sunni Arabs, who are unlikely to look kindly on Russia after its role in the civil war.
Moscow has probably concluded it cannot force a military victory for the Syrian government. Its yearlong intervention has focused heavily on Aleppo, but pro-government ground forces are too weak to retake the divided city. Radicalizing the opposition, then, can ensure that there is no viable alternative to Syria’s current government.
Forcing a Seat at the Table
This also accomplishes a diplomatic goal for Russia: making itself crucial for any cease-fire or peace deal. Earlier in the war, it had less sway on the international stage — and perhaps with Damascus — because it played a smaller role than other countries that had intervened. Russia was unwilling to commit ground troops, making it secondary to Iran, which had sent many.
Aleppo has been an opportunity because Russian warplanes are instrumental in maintaining the siege, and because that siege has become one of the war’s most terrible calamities. Russia has forced itself to the negotiating table, ensuring it will have a greater say in any outcome.
That is important to Moscow for image purposes — a way to convince Russians that their government is strong and capable — as well as to ensure that any negotiated deal protects Russian interests in Syria.
Denying the Rebels Support — and Victory
Still, Russia and the Syrian government could have achieved these political goals without devastating the city and its population so drastically. Why go to such extremes?
The answer has to do with a fundamental imbalance between insurgent groups and foreign interventions. In any civil war, indigenous forces rely on the local population, which gives them money, food, shelter, intelligence and recruits. Rebels, including Syria’s, are only as strong as their local support.
But Russia has no need for local support; its warplanes keep flying whether Syrian civilians want them there or not. The Syrian government does need popular support to survive, but it draws that from elsewhere in the country and had already functionally destroyed its support in rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo. This subverts the normal dynamics of war, such that Russia and the Syrian government stand to benefit from mass killings.
The destruction of Aleppo will not persuade its residents to support the government, of course. Rather, it will inhibit their ability or willingness to help the rebels, often by forcing them to flee their homes. This weakens the rebels — not necessarily enough that pro-government forces can retake eastern Aleppo, but enough that rebels there will struggle to push beyond the city if the siege ends.
This parallels Russia’s conduct during its second war in Chechnya, from 1999 to 2009, when it besieged and devastated entire cities. While analysts stress that Moscow deployed very different strategies in Chechnya than in Syria, both wars reflect Russia’s willingness to target civilians for military gain.
All this also sends a message to Syrians outside Aleppo: Opposition groups cannot keep you safe, and siding with them puts you at risk. The goal is not to galvanize Syrians in support of the government — impossible after years of sieges and barrel bombs — but to exhaust them.
These dynamics have been building for years. In early 2014, as government forces besieged rebel-held areas, threatening those communities with starvation, a Syria analyst named Aron Lund warned in a brief for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that rebel-held Aleppo could be next.
“Imposing starvation on civilian populations is a war crime, yet like most war crimes it is also very effective,” he warned.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) — The U.S. is sending 615 more troops to Iraq as the stage is set for an Iraqi-led battle to reclaim Mosul, the northern city that has been the Islamic State group’s main stronghold for more than two years. The offensive, starting as soon as October, looms as a decisive moment for Iraq and for President Barack Obama’s much-criticized strategy to defeat IS.
“These forces will be primarily to enable Iraqi security forces and also (Kurdish) Peshmerga in the operations to isolate and collapse ISIL’s control over Mosul, but also to protect and expand Iraqi security forces’ gains elsewhere in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters Wednesday. The Peshmerga are Kurdish militia fighters who are generally among the most proficient ground forces in Iraq but whose role is politically sensitive there.
Carter said the extra Americans would perform multiple roles at multiple locations, including at Qaraya West air base south of Mosul, where they will be building up the base to make it a hub for Iraq forces, and at al-Asad air base in Anbar province more than 200 miles away, where they will strengthen supply lines for the movement of supplies north toward Mosul.
Obama approved the deployment, which Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said would total 615 troops who would begin moving out “very soon.” Although the Americans are not to participate directly in combat, they may in some cases move forward with Iraqi combat forces and could face IS attacks.
There were 4,565 U.S. forces in Iraq as of Wednesday, according to the Pentagon. That number does not include as many as 1,500 troops who are there on temporary duty or are not counted for other bookkeeping reasons.
Carter underscored the potential risks to all U.S. troops involved in the campaign.
“We’re in a support role, but I need to make clear once again: American forces combatting ISIL in Iraq are in harm’s way,” he said. “No one should be in any doubt about that.”
Davis said most of the new U.S. troops will do logistics and maintenance, others will provide expanded intelligence and surveillance for the Mosul operation and some will advise and assist the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces. He said improvements at al-Asad air base, for example, could include adding instrument landing systems that would help with nighttime flight operations.
He also said that U.S. and coalition troops may be needed to help ensure that other towns and areas in Iraq remain secure and out of IS control. He said if militants try to launch attacks in other places while the Mosul operation goes on, the Iraqis need to be able to respond.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in a statement posted on his official website, said Wednesday the extra U.S. troops would “provide support for security forces and the Iraqi heroes in the fight looming in the liberation of Mosul.” He said the Obama administration had approved his government’s request for the increase.
Emphasizing that the Americans are there as advisers, Abadi added: “It is our troops who will liberate the land.”
Abadi’s last point is central to the U.S.-Iraqi strategy for delivering what Carter has called “a lasting defeat” to the Islamic State. Although some in the U.S. have urged Obama to put larger numbers of American combat troops on the ground in Iraq to defeat IS quickly, the administration has argued that a victory on those terms would be short-lived. They assert that Iraq must muster the will and cohesiveness – militarily and politically – to defend its own territory once the Islamic State has been pushed out.
For Obama, Iraq is not the only important battlefield. He faces even greater uncertainty and a dimmer outlook in neighboring Syria. The Islamic State has lost territory in Syria over the past year, but the U.S. has fewer reliable partner forces on the ground there. Even amid preparations to retake Mosul, the U.S. is trying to fashion an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish fighters to assault Raqqa, the militants’ main stronghold in Syria. The U.S. has only about 300 troops on the ground in Syria as advisers.
Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, will be a key test, but a victory there is unlikely to mean an end to Iraq’s troubles. In a post-Islamic State Iraq, the enmities and rivalries among the players in the anti-IS coalition could easily erupt. The Iraqis have assembled a fragile alliance — Iraqi troops alongside Shiite militiamen, Sunni Arab tribesmen, Kurdish fighters and U.S special forces.
Although some Western officials have pointed to October as the likely start of a Mosul offensive, it’s unclear whether Iraq will be ready by then. Carter said on Wednesday, “We are on schedule in terms of marshalling the force there,” suggesting they are ready, or nearly ready.
Asked whether the extra 615 U.S. troops will be the final addition before the Mosul campaign kicks off, Carter said, “This is what we now foresee as required for the envelopment and seizure of Mosul. He said U.S. forces would remain for an undetermined period to help the Iraqi government consolidate its control over Mosul after the anticipated successful offensive.
U.S.-led coalition forces recently sped up training for Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters, condensing courses that once took more than two months into just four weeks. In July, the Pentagon announced that 560 more U.S. troops would deploy to Iraq to transform Qayara air base, west of the city of Qayara and south of Mosul, into a staging hub for the final assault.
Obama has deliberately kept a lid on the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and ruled out using substantial ground combat units to recreate the enormous offensive firepower that Washington used during the 2003-2011 U.S. war in Iraq.
Carter said that while he is confident of victory in Mosul, it is hard to predict how costly it will be.
“We do not know what ISIL’s plans will be for the defense of Mosul, nor whether they will be able to carry out whatever plans they have – whether their fighters will stick with them … and so we’re prepared for whatever happens there,” he said.
FILE – In this Sept. 22, 2016 file photo, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The U.S. is sending 615 more troops to Iraq as the stage is set for an Iraqi-led battle to reclaim Mosul, the northern city that has been the Islamic State group’s main stronghold for more than two years. The offensive, starting as soon as October, looms as a decisive moment for Iraq and for President Barack Obama’s much-criticized strategy to defeat IS. “These forces will be primarily to enable Iraqi security forces and also (Kurdish) Peshmerga in the operations to isolate and collapse ISIL’s control over Mosul, but also to protect and expand Iraqi security forces’ gains elsewhere in Iraq,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told reporters Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Josh Lederman and Vivian Salama contributed to this report.
Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
This gallery contains 1 photo.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of Israelis, among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, have paid their respects to Israel’s ninth President Shimon Peres as his body lay in state at the country’s parliament on Thursday.
Peres died Wednesday from complications following a stroke. He was 93.
Scores of world leaders are expected to attend Peres’ state funeral in Jerusalem on Friday, including President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and French President Francois Hollande. It is expected to be the largest such gathering in Israel since the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish nationalist in 1995.
More than 60 private planes are expected to arrive ahead of the ceremony.
Clinton landed in Israel Thursday morning. He arrived on the private jet of Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, according to a spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority. Saban is a major donor to the Democratic party and to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Peres’ office said Thursday Clinton will go directly to Israel’s parliament, where Israelis were lining up at Peres’ casket, which is draped in an Israeli flag. Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu and Rivlin laid wreaths beside the casket.
Clinton was president when Peres helped negotiate a historic interim peace agreement with the Palestinians in 1993. The following year, Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have said they lost “a true and treasured friend” in Peres.
Noticeably absent from the funeral will be Arab leaders.
Peres has been hailed among western leaders as a man of peace, but Arab leaders have greeted his death mostly with silence.
The hostility is colored by Peres’s role in building his country’s defense arsenal, supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank and waging war in Lebanon.
Still, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has lauded Peres for reaching a “peace of the brave” with Arafat and Rabin.
An adviser to Morocco’s king will attend Peres’ funeral, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
Over Peres’ seven-decade political career, he transformed from a hawk to a Nobel Prize-winning advocate of reconciliation with the Palestinians. As Israel’s president, he cultivated admiration at home and abroad for his youthful optimism.
Members of the Knesset guard carry the coffin of former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, in Jerusalem, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Peres died early Wednesday from complications from a stroke. He was 93. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
This gallery contains 1 photo.
TOWNVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A volunteer firefighter stopped a teenager who shot two students and a teacher outside a South Carolina elementary school after killing his father at their home, authorities said.
Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said the shooter was apprehended Wednesday afternoon outside rural Townville Elementary School before he could get inside the building.
Firefighter Jamie Brock, a 30-year veteran of the Townville Volunteer Fire Department down the road from the school, “just took him down,” the sheriff said. Deputies arrived minutes later.
Brock says he doesn’t want attention for his actions.
He “wants to remain humble and quiet about it” as he believes “he did nothing any of the other volunteer firefighters wouldn’t have done,” said Scott Stoller with Anderson County Emergency Management.
Regardless, he said, “Firefighter Brock is absolutely a hero.”
Authorities said the shooting spree began at the teen’s house about 2 miles from the school, where he gunned down his 47-year-old father, Jeffrey Osborne. Authorities have not released the suspect’s name or age beyond saying he’s a teen.
Crying and upset, the teen called his grandmother’s cellphone at 1:44 p.m., Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said. The grandparents couldn’t understand what was going on, so they went to his home just 100 yards away. When they got there, they found Osborne dead and their grandson gone.
About one minute later, authorities received a 911 call from a teacher at the school in this rural town about 110 miles northeast of Atlanta.
The shooter drove a truck into the school parking lot and immediately started firing as he got out and moved toward the school, Skipper said. He did not know who the truck the teen drove was registered to and declined to say how many shots were fired.
One student was shot in the leg and the other in the foot, sheriff’s Capt. Garland Major said. Both students were male. The female teacher was hit in the shoulder.
“We are heartbroken about this senseless act of violence,” said Joanne Avery, superintendent of Anderson County School District 4. She canceled classes at the school for the rest of the week.
Television images showed officers swarming the school after the report of an active shooter. Some were on top of the roof while others were walking around the building. Students were driven away on buses accompanied by police officers to a nearby church.
Authorities said they don’t yet know a motive for the shooting and they were not sure if the students and teacher were targeted. The sheriff said the teen had been homeschooled.
“There are no racial undertones there. There’s no terrorism involved,” Major said. “We’re confident we have the sole shooter and no one else is involved.”
Skipper said the teen’s mother was at work at the time of the shooting.
One of the students and the teacher were released from the hospital Wednesday evening, AnMed Health spokeswoman Juana Slade said. Greenville Health System spokeswoman Sandy Dees said the other student, Jacob Hall, remained in critical condition.
The school surrounded by working farms has about 300 students in its pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade classrooms. About 90 percent of the students are white, according to state records.
“This is the country,” Brandi Pierce, the mother of a sixth-grader, told The Associated Press as she began to cry. “You don’t have this in the country.”
Jamie Meredith, a student’s mother, said some of the children went into a bathroom during the shooting.
“I don’t know how they knew to go in the bathroom, but I know her teacher was shaken up. I know all the kids were scared. There was a bunch of kids crying. She didn’t talk for about five minutes when I got her,” she told WYFF-TV, Greenville.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley released a statement from her and her husband after the shooting.
“As we work together with law enforcement to make sure they have the support they need to investigate what happened in Townville, Michael and I ask that everyone across South Carolina join us in praying for the entire Townville Elementary School family and those touched by today’s tragedy.”
The town is situated along Interstate 85 near the Georgia-South Carolina state line.
A Townville Elementary student looks out of the window of a school bus as she and her classmates are transported to Oakdale Baptist Church, following a shooting at Townville Elementary in Townville Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. A teenager killed his father at his home Wednesday before going to the nearby elementary school and opening fire with a handgun, wounding two students and a teacher, authorities said. (Katie McLean/The Independent-Mail via AP)
Associated Press writer Seanna Adcox in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
HONG KONG (AP) — Energy companies led a global stock market rally Thursday as investors welcomed news that OPEC nations planned to cut oil production for the first time in eight years in an effort to reduce a global glut.
KEEPING SCORE: European benchmarks posted solid gains in early trading. France’s CAC advanced 1.4 percent to 4,494.06 and Germany’s DAX rose 1 percent to 10,539.59. Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 1.1 percent to 6,922.65. U.S. stocks were poised to open higher. Dow futures added 0.1 percent to 18,251.00 and broader S&P 500 futures were up 0.1 percent to 2,164.30.
CRUDE CUT: Shares of energy companies surged after OPEC members struck a preliminary deal to curb output at a meeting in Algeria. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose members have been hit by depressed oil prices because of excess global production, overcame long-running disagreements and agreed to limit production to between 32.5 million and 33 million barrels per day. Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. surged 8.8 percent, Chinese oil producer CNOOC jumped 5 percent and Australia’s Woodside Petroleum leaped 7.3 percent. In London, Royal Dutch Shell climbed 5.4 percent and BP gained 4.4 percent.
MARKET INSIGHT: Analysts were skeptical about whether the OPEC cut would provide a long-term boost because it did nothing to address weak demand. “For oil to see a sustainable rally from here, demand side indicators need to be represented better,” said Nicholas Teo, trading strategist at KGI Fraser Securities in Singapore. “So far though, nothing of that sort has appeared in the horizon.”
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures leaped after the OPEC announcement, but momentum later reversed as traders grew skeptical of the deal’s lack of details. Crude oil lost 28 cents to $46.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract surged $2.38, or 5.3 percent, to settle at $47.05 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 46 cents to $48.78 a barrel in London.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.4 percent to close at 16,693.71 and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.8 percent to 2,068.72. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 23,739.47 and the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent to 2,998.48. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.1 percent to 5,471.30. Indexes in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand also rose.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 101.50 yen from 100.93 yen in late trading Wednesday. The euro inched lower to $1.1219 from $1.1223.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzNewsRoom / NYT) —- Shimon Peres, one of the last surviving pillars of Israel’s founding generation, who did more than anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might, then worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, died on Wednesday in Jerusalem. He was 93.
His death was reported by The Jerusalem Post and confirmed by an official who did not want to speak publicly until the family made an announcement.
Mr. Peres died just over two weeks after suffering a stroke. Doctors kept him largely unconscious and on a breathing tube since then in hopes that it would give his brain a chance to heal. But he deteriorated as the nation he once led watched his last battle play out publicly and leaders from around the world sent wishes for his recovery.
As prime minister (twice); as minister of defense, foreign affairs, finance and transportation; and, until 2014, as president, Mr. Peres never left the public stage during Israel’s seven decades.
He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders.
Chosen by Parliament in 2007 to serve a seven-year term as president, Mr. Peres had complicated relations with the hawkish government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, elected in 2009. While largely a ceremonial post, the presidency afforded Mr. Peres a perch with access and public attention, and he tried to exert his influence.
For someone who was dogged for decades by a reputation for vanity and back-room dealing, Mr. Peres ended his years in public office as a remarkably beloved figure, promoting the country’s high-tech prowess and cultural reach, a founding pioneer who set an example for forward thinking.
Never at a loss for a bon mot in his Polish-accented Hebrew, English and French, Mr. Peres said of his transformation: “For 60 years, I was the most controversial figure in the country, and suddenly I’m the most popular man in the land. Truth be told, I don’t know when I was happier, then or now.”
In his efforts to help Israel find acceptance in a hostile region, Mr. Peres’s biggest breakthrough came in 1993 when he worked out a plan with the Palestine Liberation Organization for self-government in Gaza and in part of the West Bank, both of which were occupied by Israel.
After months of secret negotiation with representatives of the P.L.O., conducted with the help of Norwegian diplomats and intellectuals, Mr. Peres persuaded his old political rival Yitzhak Rabin, then the prime minister, to accept the plan, which became known as the Oslo Accords.
Mr. Peres, who was serving as foreign minister, signed the accords on Sept. 13, 1993, in a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House as Mr. Rabin and their old enemy Yasir Arafat, the chairman of the P.L.O., looked on and, with some prodding by President Bill Clinton, shook hands.
It was a gesture both unprecedented and historic. Up to that time, Israel had refused to negotiate directly with the P.L.O. Mr. Peres broke the taboo, and the impasse.
“What we are doing today is more than signing an agreement; it is a revolution,” he said at the ceremony. “Yesterday a dream, today a commitment.”
“We are sincere,” he pledged to the Palestinians. “We mean business. We do not seek to shape your lives or determine your destiny. Let all of us turn from bullets to ballots, from guns to shovels.”
Later that day, in a television interview, Mr. Peres pronounced himself 100 percent sure that peace had arrived. With the changes in the world — the end of the Cold War; the collapse of the Soviet Union and, with it, its military, financial and diplomatic support of the P.L.O.; and the drying up of funds from Arab countries angered over Arafat’s support of Iraq in the recent Persian Gulf war — the time had come for the Palestinians, too, to seek peace.
“If you have children,” he said, “you cannot feed them forever with flags for breakfast and cartridges for lunch. You need something more substantial. Unless you educate your children and spend less money on conflicts, unless you develop your science, technology and industry, you don’t have a future.”
Mr. Peres, Mr. Rabin and Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
But the era of good feelings did not last. It was shattered in 2000 after a visit by the opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the sacred plaza in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The next day, the Israeli police fired on stone-throwing protesters, inaugurating a new round of violence that became known as the second intifada.
It did not end until Arafat died in 2004, bringing new leadership to the Palestinians and a new effort at coexistence led by Mr. Sharon, a former hawk who was elected prime minister and withdrew Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza and small parts of the West Bank.
Mr. Peres had tried before to get a peace settlement, in 1987, at that time between Israel and Jordan. He was foreign minister in a coalition government with Yitzhak Shamir when he proposed an international peace conference on the Middle East. But Mr. Shamir and his Likud faction scuttled the plan.
Mr. Peres had sought to settle the future of the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel had occupied since the Arab-Israeli War in 1967. As a first step, he proposed that Jordan and Israel could either divide the land or share the government but that Israel should not control the area forever.
A Coalition, and Calm
Mr. Peres became prime minister at the head of an unusual coalition of Israel’s two major political parties, his own Labor Party, and the Likud, the party led by Yitzhak Shamir, who served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister. In accordance with the coalition agreement, the two men exchanged posts after 25 months.
Mr. Peres brought a period of tranquillity to the social environment, which had been frayed by animosities between European and Middle Eastern Jews and between religious Jews and secular Jews.
He presided over the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon after an invasion that had generated unprecedented controversy, and he became the first Israeli prime minister to take the difficult steps required to deal with the nation’s fundamental economic problems and ruinous inflation.
During his time in office, Israel airlifted some 7,000 Ethiopian Jews who had trekked to refugee camps in Sudan to escape famine, anti-Semitism, forced conscription of boys and other threats that made their lives in Ethiopia precarious. Mr. Peres called the clandestine rescue operation a “daring and wonderful” act of “self-redemption.”
Taking over what was expected to be a government of national impasse, Mr. Peres left office with an image as a dignified, self-confident statesman.
But while he was prime minister, severe strains developed in relations between the United States and Israel growing out of a major spy scandal involving an American, Jonathan Jay Pollard, and the disclosure in 1986 of Iranian arms deals.
A man of medium height and slender, athletic build — his dark hair turned gray and then white in his later years — Mr. Peres always exuded vitality, despite a schedule that kept him going 18 hours a day. When, on his 88th birthday, he was offered a traditional Jewish greeting, “May you live till 120,” he retorted without missing a beat, “Don’t be stingy.”
Mr. Peres was married to the former Sonya Gelman, who shunned the spotlight to the point of refusing to move into the president’s house when he took his last public post. She died in January 2011. They had three children: a daughter, Zvia, and two sons, Jonathan and Nehemya. They and Mr. Peres’s eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren survive him.
Mr. Peres was an effective speaker, comfortable in front of large audiences as well as the television camera. He cultivated party members — remembering their names and attending their weddings and bar mitzvahs — and nurtured his relationship with the intelligentsia.
He also wrote poetry and was given to quoting the ancient Greeks and Flaubert and Churchill. He published a dozen books, including “The New Middle East,” in 1993, and “Battling for Peace,” a memoir, in 1995. His last book was an affectionate political biography of his mentor, the country’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.
A Journey From Poland
He was born Shimon Persky on Aug. 16, 1923, in the small village of Vishniewa, Poland, to a merchant family. His parents, Yitzhak and Sara Persky, took him to Palestine when he was 11, where he studied in Tel Aviv and then entered an agricultural school.
In 1941, he helped found Kibbutz Alumot in the eastern Lower Galilee, where he worked as a herdsman and was elected kibbutz secretary. He soon became active in the Mapai, which was to become Israel’s Labor Party, and, at 18, was appointed the coordinator of the youth movement of the Histadrut, the General Labor Federation.
He rose rapidly, getting experience in the intricacies of Israeli political life. In 1944, Ben-Gurion, then the head of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, sent Mr. Peres with a small reconnaissance group to Eilat on the Red Sea to survey the Sinai Desert and make maps that became important strategic assets during the 1948 war of independence.
It was on that mission that a friend sighted a nest of eagles, “peres” in Hebrew. “Persky,” he said, “why don’t you change your family name to Peres?” He accepted the suggestion, though, in fact, the bird they saw was more a vulture than an eagle.
When Israel became independent in 1948, Mr. Peres was named head of the naval service. Within two years, he was sent to the United States to lead a defense supply mission in New York. He was 27 and spoke no English, but within three months, after rounds of intensive private lessons, he was fluent. He took courses at the New School for Social Research and New York University, and later at the Harvard School of Public Administration.
In 1951, Ben-Gurion, then prime minister and minister of defense, appointed Mr. Peres director general of the Defense Ministry, where he used his Harvard training to reorganize the department. Mr. Peres became known as one of “Ben-Gurion’s boys” — protégés of the “Old Man” — a group that included Teddy Kollek and Moshe Dayan.
Those years may have been the genesis of a lifelong rivalry with Mr. Rabin, who at the time was chief of the operations branch, the second-highest position in the Israeli Army, and who complained of what he called Mr. Peres’s excessive authority.
At the Defense Ministry, Mr. Peres was in charge of a substantial portion of the nation’s total budget, and he played a central role in developing the young nation’s industry, particularly in aeronautics and electronics.
He stressed domestic weapons production, but when Egypt received advanced military equipment from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, Mr. Peres began to cast about for new sources of supply. He finally turned to France.
His timing was excellent. The French believed the Algerian revolutionaries fighting for independence were fueled by President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and saw Israel as a source of intelligence about Egypt. Mr. Peres negotiated a $1 billion arms deal and acquired a reputation as a canny bargainer.
The arms negotiations formed a basis for the Franco-Israeli alliance that led to Israel’s lightning capture of Sinai during the Arab-Israeli War in 1967. Zeev Schiff, for many years the military editor of the newspaper Haaretz, said, “There is no doubt that Peres was one of the brains behind Suez.”
Ben-Gurion felt that a pre-emptive war was bad for Israel in terms of public opinion and was reluctant until the last. Mr. Peres saw it as an opportunity to get a better position among the superpowers, a special relationship through a “joint venture of going to war together.”
Out of that joint venture came French help in building a nuclear reactor in Dimona, which provided Israel with the ability to build nuclear weapons.
“I reached the stage in France where I was trusted by everybody, and really the sky was the limit,” Mr. Peres said many years later.
In 1957, Mr. Peres was awarded the French Legion of Honor, one of many international distinctions. In 2012, President Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The American honor partly reflected Israel’s shift in alliance to the United States from Europe in previous decades. While under Ben-Gurion, and his successor, Levi Eshkol, Mr. Peres negotiated with the West German defense minister, Franz Josef Strauss, to get arms and continued to get weapons from France, as well. But he came to rely increasingly on the United States. He visited Washington frequently and met with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mr. Peres ran for the country’s Parliament, the Knesset, in 1959, in his first bid for national elective office. With the support of Ben-Gurion, he was given a position high enough on his party’s electoral list to be assured of victory.
In the political turmoil that preceded the 1967 Middle East War, Mr. Peres tried to negotiate a return to power for Ben-Gurion, who had retired. In the course of his negotiations, he proposed a coalition to Menachem Begin, the head of the right-wing Herut Party, despite Ben-Gurion’s belief that if Mr. Begin ever came to power, he would bring Israel to the “precipice of destruction.”
Shabtai Teveth, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University and the biographer of Ben-Gurion, said in an interview, “I believe Peres will go down in Zionist and Israeli history as the man who legitimized Begin and the Herut.”
Ten years later, in 1977, when Mr. Peres challenged Mr. Rabin, the split in the Labor Party opened the way for the election of Mr. Begin as prime minister.
When Israel’s top leaders were discredited because of the country’s lack of preparedness for the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Mr. Peres made a bid for power. To block him, Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir recruited Mr. Rabin, who had been ambassador to the United States and bore no responsibility for the wartime failures. Mr. Rabin named Mr. Peres defense minister, a decision he later came to regret. In his memoirs, Mr. Rabin called him unscrupulous and untrustworthy. He wrote that he could not believe a word Mr. Peres said.
Their decades-old feud flared again in 1976 when an Air France plane that left Tel Aviv for Paris was hijacked in Athens and taken to Entebbe, Uganda. The hijackers held about 100 Israeli passengers hostage. Mr. Peres accused Prime Minister Rabin of weakness for resisting a military solution. A raid by Israeli commandos on July 3, 1976, rescued 91 passengers and 12 crew members.
The next year, Mr. Peres again sought nomination as his party’s candidate for prime minister, but he again lost out to Mr. Rabin. When Mr. Rabin was forced to drop out after disclosures that he and his wife had violated Israeli law by maintaining a bank account in Washington, Mr. Peres led the party, but he lost in the general election to Mr. Begin.
Mr. Peres finally became prime minister in 1984 when he led his Labor Party into the coalition with Likud.
He returned to office as foreign minister in July 1992 in the government of Mr. Rabin and was soon working toward the accord signed a year later. In 1996, Mr. Peres, who had taken over as prime minister after Mr. Rabin’s assassination, called an early election, certain of victory.
But a series of terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Mr. Peres’s decision to mount an offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon — during which scores of Lebanese refugees sheltering at a United Nations base in Qana died in an Israeli artillery barrage — led to ill feelings in Israel and the surprise victory by Mr. Netanyahu of Likud.
Ehud Barak then replaced Mr. Peres as head of Labor and kept him in a minor role in his government, which was elected in 1999.
Mr. Peres spent that period partly building up his Peres Center for Peace but made another political comeback when Mr. Sharon was elected prime minister in 2001 over Mr. Barak.
Mr. Peres took Labor into the Sharon-led government in a bid for national unity. Later, in 2005, he left Labor and joined the new centrist party, Kadima, formed by Mr. Sharon.
Mr. Peres, who frequently drew on historical allusions, thought of himself as philosopher more than a politician. When asked about the 1993 Oslo Accords, he said: “There was no alternative. We had to do it.” He added, “An ancient Greek philosopher was asked what is the difference between war and peace. ‘In war,’ he replied, ‘the old bury the young. In peace, the young bury the old.’ I felt that if I could make the world better for the young, that would be the greatest thing we can do.”
This gallery contains 1 photo.
DENVER (AP) — Police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Criminal-history and driver databases give officers critical information about people they encounter on the job. But the AP’s review shows how those systems also can be exploited by officers who, motivated by romantic quarrels, personal conflicts or voyeuristic curiosity, sidestep policies and sometimes the law by snooping. In the most egregious cases, officers have used information to stalk or harass, or have tampered with or sold records they obtained.
No single agency tracks how often the abuse happens nationwide, and record-keeping inconsistencies make it impossible to know how many violations occur.
But the AP, through records requests to state agencies and big-city police departments, found law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times between 2013 and 2015. They received reprimands, counseling or lesser discipline in more than 250 instances, the review found.
Unspecified discipline was imposed in more than 90 instances reviewed by AP. In many other cases, it wasn’t clear from the records if punishment was given at all. The number of violations was surely far higher since records provided were spotty at best, and many cases go unnoticed.
Among those punished: an Ohio officer who pleaded guilty to stalking an ex-girlfriend and who looked up information on her; a Michigan officer who looked up home addresses of women he found attractive; and two Miami-Dade officers who ran checks on a journalist after he aired unflattering stories about the department.
“It’s personal. It’s your address. It’s all your information, it’s your Social Security number, it’s everything about you,” said Alexis Dekany, the Ohio woman whose ex-boyfriend, a former Akron officer, pleaded guilty last year to stalking her. “And when they use it for ill purposes to commit crimes against you — to stalk you, to follow you, to harass you … it just becomes so dangerous.”
The misuse represents only a tiny fraction of the millions of daily database queries run legitimately during traffic stops, criminal investigations and routine police encounters. But the worst violations profoundly abuses systems that supply vital information on criminal suspects and law-abiding citizens alike. The unauthorized searches demonstrate how even old-fashioned policing tools are ripe for abuse, at a time when privacy concerns about law enforcement have focused mostly on more modern electronic technologies. And incomplete, inconsistent tracking of the problem frustrates efforts to document its pervasiveness.
The AP tally, based on records requested from 50 states and about three dozen of the nation’s largest police departments, is unquestionably an undercount.
Some departments produced no records at all. Some states refused to disclose the information, said they don’t comprehensively track misuse or produced records too incomplete or unclear to be counted. Florida reported hundreds of misuse cases of its driver database, but didn’t say how often officers were disciplined.
And some cases go undetected, officials say, because there aren’t clear red flags to automatically distinguish questionable searches from legitimate ones.
“If we know the officers in a particular agency have made 10,000 queries in a month, we just have no way to (know) they were for an inappropriate reason unless there’s some consequence where someone might complain to us,” said Carol Gibbs, database administrator with the Illinois State Police.
The AP’s requests encompassed state and local databases and the FBI-administered National Crime and Information Center, a searchable clearinghouse that processes an average of 14 million daily transactions.
The NCIC catalogs information that officers enter on sex offenders, immigration violators, suspected gang members, people with outstanding warrants and individuals reported missing, among others. Police use the system to locate fugitives, identify missing people and determine if a motorist they’ve stopped is driving a stolen car or is wanted elsewhere.
Other statewide databases offer access to criminal histories and motor vehicle records, birth dates and photos.
Officers are instructed that those systems, which together contain data far more substantial than an internet search would yield, may be used only for legitimate law enforcement purposes. They’re warned that their searches are subject to being audited and that unauthorized access could cost them their jobs or result in criminal charges.
Yet misuse persists.
‘SENSE OF BEING VULNERABLE’
Violations frequently arise from romantic pursuits or domestic entanglements, including when a Denver officer became acquainted with a hospital employee during a sex-assault investigation, then searched out her phone number and called her at home. A Mancos, Colorado, marshal asked co-workers to run license plate checks for every white pickup truck they saw because his girlfriend was seeing a man who drove a white pickup, an investigative report shows.
In Florida, a Polk County sheriff’s deputy investigating a battery complaint ran driver’s license information of a woman he met and then messaged her unsolicited through Facebook.
Officers have sought information for purely personal purposes, including criminal records checks of co-workers at private businesses. A Phoenix officer ran searches on a neighbor during the course of a longstanding dispute. A North Olmsted, Ohio, officer pleaded guilty this year to searching for a female friend’s landlord and showing up in the middle of the night to demand the return of money he said was owed her.
The officer, Brian Bielozer, told the AP he legitimately sought the landlord’s information as a safety precaution to determine if she had outstanding warrants or a weapons permit. But he promised as part of a plea agreement never to seek a job again in law enforcement. He said he entered the plea to avoid mounting legal fees.
Some database misuse occurred in the course of other misbehavior, including a Phoenix officer who gave a woman involved in a drug and gun-trafficking investigation details about stolen cars in exchange for arranging sexual encounters for him. She told an undercover detective about a department source who could “get any information on anybody,” a disciplinary report says.
Eric Paull, the Akron police sergeant who pleaded guilty last year to stalking Dekany, also ran searches on her mother, men she’d been close with and students from a course he taught, prosecutors said. A lawyer for Paull, who was sentenced to prison, said Paull has accepted responsibility for his actions.
“A lot of people have complicated personal lives and very strong passions,” said Jay Stanley, an American Civil Liberties Union privacy expert. “There’s greed, there’s lust, there’s all the deadly sins. And often, accessing information is a way for people to act on those human emotions.”
Other police employees searched for family members, sometimes at relatives’ requests, to check what information was stored or to see if they were the subjects of warrants.
Still other searchers were simply curious, including a Miami-Dade officer who admitted checking dozens of officers and celebrities including basketball star LeBron James.
Political motives occasionally surface.
Deb Roschen, a former county commissioner in Minnesota, alleged in a 2013 lawsuit that law enforcement and government employees inappropriately ran repeated queries on her and other politicians over 10 years. The searches were in retaliation for questioning county spending and sheriff’s programs, she contended.
She filed an open-records request that revealed her husband and daughter were also researched, sometimes at odd hours. But an appeals court rejected her suit and several similar cases this month, saying the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate the searches were unpermitted.
“Now there are people who do not like me that have all my private information … any information that could be used against me. They could steal my identity, they could sell it to someone,” Roschen said.
“The sense of being vulnerable,” she added, “there’s no fix to that.”
BETRAYAL OF TRUST
Violations are committed by patrol officers, dispatchers, civilian employees, court personnel and high-ranking police officials. Some made dozens of improper searches. Some were under investigation for multiple infractions when they were punished, making it unclear whether database misuse was always the sole reason for discipline.
Agencies uncover some violations during audits, or during investigations into other misconduct. Some emerge after a citizen, often the target of a search, finds out or grows suspicious. A Jacksonville, Florida, sheriff’s officer was found to have run queries on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend after she raised concerns she was being harassed, an internal affairs report says.
The AP sought to focus on officers who improperly accessed information on others but also counted some cases in which officers divulged information to someone not authorized to receive it, or ran their own names for strictly personal purposes, including to check their car registrations.
The tally also includes some cases in which little is known about the offense because some agencies provided no details — only that they resulted in discipline.
The AP tried when possible to exclude benign violations, such as new employees who ran only their own names during training or system troubleshooting. But the variability in record-keeping made it impossible to weed out all such violations.
Agencies in California, for instance, reported more than 75 suspensions, resignations and terminations between 2013 and 2015 arising from misuse of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, state records show. But because the records didn’t identify officers or specify the allegations, it’s unclear whether multiple violations were committed by the same person or how egregious the infractions were.
Colorado disclosed about 35 misuse violations without specifying punishment. Indiana listed 12 cases of abuse but revealed nothing about them. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported about 400 violations in 2014 and 2015 of its Driver and Vehicle Information Database, or DAVID, but didn’t include the allegations or punishment.
The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division offers training to state and local law enforcement agencies on NCIC use, and conducts audits every three years that include a sample of local departments, said spokesman Stephen Fischer.
But it doesn’t track how often NCIC information is misused. Violations, which are not required to be reported directly to the FBI, are inconsistently disclosed to the federal government. The FBI relies on local agencies to address violations that are identified, Fischer said.
The AP requested records from large police departments and state agencies tasked with administering NCIC usage within their districts. The responses included cases where officers misused motor vehicle data, including driver’s license and registration information, and also more sensitive criminal history records.
Officers are only occasionally prosecuted, and rarely at the federal level.
One recent exception is a former Cumming, Georgia, officer charged in June with accepting a bribe to search a woman’s license plate number to see if she was an undercover officer. Another involved Ronald Buell, a retired New York Police Department sergeant who received probation for selling NCIC information to a private investigator for defense attorneys.
At his July sentencing, Buell said he hoped other officers would learn “to never put themselves in the position I’m in.”
It’s unsettled whether improper database access is necessarily a federal crime and whether it violates a trespass statute that criminalizes using a computer for other than authorized purposes.
A federal appeals court last year reversed the computer-crime conviction of ex-NYPD officer Gilberto Valle, whom tabloids dubbed the “cannibal cop” for his online exchanges about kidnapping and eating women and who improperly used a police database to gather information. Valle argued that as an officer, he was legally authorized to access the database. The court deemed the statute ambiguous and said it risked criminalizing a broad array of computer use.
Misuse has occasionally prompted federal lawsuits under a statute meant to protect driver’s license data.
A Florida Highway Trooper, Donna Watts, accused dozens of officers of searching her in the state’s driver database after she stopped a Miami-Dade officer for speeding in 2011. She alleged in lawsuits that she was harassed with prank calls, threatening posts on law enforcement websites and unfamiliar cars that idled near her home.
Each unlawful access, she said in a court document, “has either caused or worsened anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other medical/physical/psychological conditions I suffer.”
Law enforcement officials have taken steps to try to limit abuse, though they say they know of no foolproof safeguard given the volume of inquiries and the need for officers to have information at their fingertips.
“There’s no system that could prohibit you from looking up your ex-wife’s new boyfriend, because your ex-wife’s new boyfriend could come in contact with the criminal justice system,” said Peggy Bell, executive director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said it changed the way officers access a state driver database after a 2013 legislative audit found over half of the 11,000 law enforcement personnel who use it made searches that appeared questionable. The audit was conducted after a former state employee was charged with illegally viewing thousands of driver’s license records.
In Florida, a memorandum of understanding this year increased the amount of field audits law enforcement agencies must undergo regarding DAVID usage. Troopers in the Florida Highway Patrol sign usage warnings when they access the DAVID system and a criminal sanctions acknowledgment. Users are audited and instructed to select a reason for a search before making inquiries.
Denver’s independent monitor, Nicholas Mitchell, argued for strong policies and strict discipline as a safeguard, especially as increasing amounts of information are added to databases. His review found most of the 25 Denver officers punished for misusing databases over 10 years received at most reprimands.
Miami-Dade police cracked down after the Watts scandal and other high-profile cases. The department now does quarterly audits in which officers can be randomly asked to explain searches. A sergeant’s duties have been expanded to include daily reviews of proper usage and troubleshooting, said Maj. Christopher Carothers of the professional compliance bureau.
Even if the public is unaware of the amount of available information, Carothers said, “The idea that police would betray that trust out of curious entertainment or truly bad intent, that’s very disturbing and unsettling.”
Eric Tucker reported from Washington. AP writer Tom Hays in New York and AP video journalist Joshua Replogle in Akron, Ohio, contributed to this report.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Unanswered questions still surround the fatal police shooting of a black man by a black police officer in North Carolina despite a week of rallies and marches calling for wider investigations and more transparency by law enforcement.
Authorities have said officer Brentley Vinson, 26, shot Keith Lamont Scott, 43, after the man refused to drop a pistol as he exited a vehicle parked at an apartment complex where officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department were waiting to arrest someone else. They also have released two police recordings of the moments before and after the fatal gunfire, and Scott’s family has released a video taken by his wife, who was nearby.
But the explanations and images haven’t erased all the questions about the shooting. Here are some of them:
DID SCOTT OWN A GUN?
Police said Scott had a loaded gun that had been reported stolen previously, and they said testing showed the weapon found at the scene carried both his fingerprints and DNA. But Scott’s relatives and demonstrators dispute that.
On the video taken by Scott’s wife, the woman tells officers “He has no weapon” several times, even as officers yell at him, “Drop the gun.” Demonstrators have consistently repeated claims that Scott was unarmed when he was killed.
But Scott had a weapon a year ago, according to a court document filed by his wife. In asking a judge for a restraining order against her husband in October 2015, Rakeyia Scott wrote that officers should consider her husband a potential threat because he carried a 9mm gun. “He said he is a ‘killer’ and we should know that,” she wrote.
IF HE DID OWN A GUN, WHERE WAS IT?
After the shooting, police released an evidence photograph of a cocked, Colt .380-caliber handgun lying in a parking lot with the safety disengaged to illustrate their claim that Scott was armed when Vinson opened fire. The .380-caliber weapon is a form of a 9mm gun, a weapons expert said, and could be referred to as a 9mm, as Scott described in her complaint.
But it’s not clear if the gun mentioned in the restraining order is the same one police said they recovered.
The image is vital because Scott’s family said he had a book, not a gun. Several things appear to be on the ground around where Scott fell, but no gun is clearly evident. A video from an officer’s body camera at one point shows something on the ground near Scott’s feet that could be a gun. But it isn’t visible as the video continues, and it’s unclear what it is. Several things appear to be on the ground in the video taken by Scott’s wife, but it’s unclear what they are.
Did the gun get kicked away in the seconds after the shooting, or did an officer stand on it or pick it up perhaps? Police haven’t explained.
WHO WERE POLICE SEEKING WHEN THEY ENCOUNTERED SCOTT?
Police say two plainclothes officers were sitting inside an unmarked car waiting to serve an arrest warrant at the apartment complex when Scott pulled in beside them in a white sport-utility vehicle. Officers first saw him rolling what appeared to be a marijuana blunt and then saw him hold up a gun, prompting officers to order him out of the SUV seconds before the shooting, police have said.
Police have not said who they were attempting to arrest. Police Lt. David Robinson said the suspect remained at large and was wanted on a federal probation violation.
The suspect was not related to Scott, police have said.
WHY HAVEN’T MORE POLICE VIDEOS BEEN RELEASED?
Scott’s family and advocacy groups complain that authorities have made public only about three minutes of footage from two police cameras, one on a dashboard and the other from a police officer’s body, despite at least four officers being present. The footage does not include body camera video from Vinson.
Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the officer who shot Scott was not wearing a body camera that day because he was serving with a tactical unit in which members are not equipped with the devices. He previously said he was reluctant to make officers in high-risk operations wear cameras that could reveal tactics and locations.
The American Civil Liberties Union has questioned whether the department is violating its own body camera policy instituted in April 2015. The policy, according to the department’s site, states the cameras must be activated in situations including arrests and encounters with suspicious people. It doesn’t address whether tactical units must wear them.
But only one officer at the time of Scott’s shooting was equipped with a body camera, and all video footage from that camera leading up to, involving and immediately after the shooting has been released, said Robinson, the police spokesman.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — A powerful Libyan general whose forces recently captured several key oil facilities has rejected a U.N.-brokered government and said the country would be better served by a leader with “high-level military experience.”
In a series of written responses to questions from The Associated Press this week, Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter said his army only recognizes the authority of the Libyan parliament based in the east, which has also rejected the U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.
Libya was plunged into chaos by the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, and for the last two years has been split by rival authorities based in the far east and in Tripoli, in the west.
The two sides are deeply divided on Hifter’s future role in the country. In the east, he is seen as the kind of strong, experienced military leader who can defeat Islamic extremists and restore order to the oil-rich North African country. In the west, where powerful Islamist militias hold sway, he is seen as remnant of the Gadhafi government — which he once served — and an aspiring strongman.
Hifter said little to put such fears to rest.
He cited generals who went on to lead Western nations, as well as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in neighboring Egypt, who led the military ouster of an elected Islamist president in 2013 and has presided over a sweeping crackdown on dissent.
“Military people who were elected to lead their country achieved remarkable success,” Hifter said.
Asked if he intended to seek the highest office, Hifter demurred, saying the country first needed security, political and social stability, and that he would not answer the question until that was achieved.
The U.N.-backed government is led by a presidential council headed by Fayez Serraj, an independent technocrat. It was supposed to present a new Cabinet to parliament for approval after lawmakers rejected the last one in August, but has yet to do so.
Egypt has backed Hifter who, like el-Sissi, blames much of his country’s problems on the Muslim Brotherhood group. He says Tripoli has been “hijacked” by armed gangs, blaming disorder there and the expansion of rogue militias on Islamist factions.
Hifter has also lashed out at U.N. envoy Martin Kobler, accusing him of “meddling” in Libyan affairs after he allegedly sought to set up a meeting between Hifter and Serraj to discuss the makeup of the Libyan army.
Both Hifter’s troops and forces loyal to the U.N.-backed government are battling the Islamic State group and other extremists. Militias from the city of Misrata, in the west, have driven IS militants out of most of their last urban stronghold, Sirte, with the help of U.S. airstrikes.
But there are concerns that victory against IS could bring renewed conflict between east and west.
Earlier this month, Hifter’s forces accused a militia from Misrata of carrying out an airstrike that killed at least six women and a child near Sirte. The Misratans denied the allegations.
Hifter’s forces also recently seized three key oil terminals — at Ras Lanuf, al-Sidra and Zueitina — from a militia allied with the U.N.-backed government, drawing international condemnation. The U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain called on his forces to withdraw from the terminals, saying the Tripoli government is the “sole steward” of the resources and warning against “illicit oil exports.”
Exports from the Ras Lanuf terminal have resumed, and Hifter said in the interview that he had returned them to the authority of the National Oil Corporation. Oil revenues are channeled to the central bank, which is under the authority of Tripoli. He also said he has no plans to withdraw from the area.
“The Libyan National Army’s priorities are to protect the oil fields and ports of export,” he said.
He also called on the U.N. to lift an embargo on weapons sales to Libya, and help it remove mines left in “huge quantities” by IS fighters in residential neighborhoods they have been driven from. He blamed authorities in the west for the rampant smuggling of migrants bound for Europe, which he blamed on the militias and the “absence of state authority.”
Hifter returned to Libya after decades in exile during the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi. Hifter had played a key role in the 1969 coup that brought Gadhafi to power and eventually became his top general. He was captured during the 1980s war with Chad. After the war ended in 1987, he defected and eventually fled to the United States.
While living in exile in Virginia, he became commander of the armed wing of the Libyan National Salvation Front and orchestrated a couple of failed coup attempts against Gadhafi before breaking with the opposition group. In interviews with Arab media in the 1990s, he described himself as building an armed force with U.S. assistance to topple Gadhafi and his associates. A 1996 Congressional Research Service report suggested that the United States provided money and training to the National Salvation Front.
Hifter has long denied ever working for the CIA, but now he says he has proof.
“If I was working for U.S. intelligence they would be my first supporters with weapons and money,” he said.
FILE — In this March 18, 2015 photo file photo, Gen. Khalifa Hifter speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in al-Marj, Libya. Hifter, a powerful Libyan general whose forces recently captured several key oil facilities has rejected a U.N.-brokered government and said the country would be better served by a leader with “high-level military experience.” In a series of written responses to questions from The Associated Press this week, Hifter said his army only recognizes the authority of the Libyan parliament based in the east, which has also rejected the U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. (AP Photo/Mohammed El-Sheikhy, File)
Rohan reported from Cairo.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican senators pressed FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday about whether anything more could have been done to prevent recent acts of extremist violence, including the Orlando nightclub massacre and the Manhattan bombing this month. Comey said the FBI admits mistakes when it makes them, but he did not agree that anything should have been done differently or that any red flags were missed.
The questions arose because the FBI has said it investigated Orlando gunman Omar Mateen a few years before the June shooting and interviewed him as part of that probe. The FBI in 2014 also looked into Ahmad Khan Rahami, the Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused in the explosion, but found nothing that tied him to terrorism.
Two senators, in particular, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said they were alarmed that both individuals had at one point been on the FBI’s radar but were not intercepted.
“What more do we need to do? What are the lessons learned, and if you need additional support, we need to know about it very quickly,” Ayotte said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Paul, one of the Senate’s leading civil liberties champions, said he was troubled that the FBI appeared to often seek new tools but didn’t seem to adequately use the ones they had. Ayotte said she thought it was “obvious” that FBI agents in their earlier investigation of Mateen should have checked to see if he was saying anything online about terrorism, which Comey said he didn’t believe had been done — though he did note that the FBI had used other investigative methods to keep tabs on him.
Comey pushed back against the criticism, telling Paul that he had his facts wrong in characterizing the FBI’s investigations into both Mateen and Rahami. He said he had commissioned a review of the FBI’s past interactions with Mateen, who killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub, and would be doing the same with Rahami.
He declined to discuss specifics of the Rahami case since it’s pending in court.
“We’re going to go back and look very carefully at the way we encountered him, and we will find the appropriate (forum) to give you that transparency about what we did well, what we could’ve done better, what we’ve learned from it,” Comey said.
The FBI opened an assessment on Rahami in 2014 following a domestic incident. His father has said he warned the FBI that his son was drawn to terrorism, though law enforcement officials say he never discussed with them his son’s apparent radicalization or any interest in terror propaganda. The FBI searched its databases and found no terrorist connections, and the review was closed within weeks.
Rahami, the main suspect in the New York bombing, faces federal terrorism charges after a shootout with police. Prosecutors say the 28-year-old planned the explosion as he bought components for his bombs online and set off a backyard blast. They say he wrote a journal that praised Osama bin Laden and other Muslim extremists, fumed about what he saw as the U.S. government’s killing of Muslim holy warriors and declared “death to your oppression.”
Comey said Tuesday that Rahami’s actions do not point to a larger terror cell.
Separately, the FBI director said the U.S. remains concerned violent extremists will eventually flow out of Syria and Iraq and into other countries in hopes of carrying out attacks.
The number of Americans traveling to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State group has slowed to a trickle in the last year, but as the so-called caliphate is “crushed,” many militants from Western nations who are already there will stream out of the region and create new security threats.
“There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said.
Comey was testifying alongside Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, at a hearing examining threats to national security 15 years after the 9/11 attacks. The hearing took place just over a week after the explosions in New York and New Jersey and a separate stabbing attack at a Minnesota mall.
Johnson said terrorist threats have evolved, moving from terrorist-directed attacks “to a world that also includes the threat of terrorist-inspired attacks” in which individuals who live in the U.S. are “self-radicalized” to attack their own country.
Johnson said that by their nature, terrorist-inspired attacks and terrorist-enabled attacks are difficult to detect by intelligence and law enforcement communities, can occur with little or no notice and in general make for a more complex homeland security challenge.
The panel’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the threat of “militant Islamic terrorist attacks to the United States remains significant,” citing the Sept. 17 attacks in the New York region and Minnesota, as well as deadly attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Orlando.
“In all, Islamic extremist terrorists have killed 63 people on U.S. soil since our committee last held its annual hearing to consider threats to the homeland,” the chairman said in a prepared statement.
Two years after President Barack Obama stated a goal of defeating the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, “we have made little progress,” said the senator, who is not related to the Homeland Security chief.
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on on terror threats. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC
This gallery contains 1 photo.
BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street gained and investors were reassured by trade-friendly Hillary Clinton’s performance in a U.S. presidential debate against Donald Trump.
KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany’s DAX rose 1.4 percent to 10,502.21 and France’s CAC-40 added 1.3 percent to 4,457.50. London’s FTSE 100 gained 0.9 percent to 6,873.44. On Tuesday, the DAX lost 0.3 percent and the CAC-40 and FTSE 100 both declined 0.2 percent. Wall Street looked set to gain for a second day, with the futures for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index up 0.2 percent and for the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.1 percent. On Tuesday, the Dow added 0.7 percent, the S&P advanced 0.6 percent and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.9 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 1.3 percent to 16,456.40 and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent to 2,987.86. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was unchanged at 23,560.61. Seoul’s Kospi added 0.9 percent to 2,017.94 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.1 percent to 5,492.40. Benchmarks in New Zealand and the Philippines advanced while Singapore and Indonesia declined.
THE TRUMP EFFECT: Investors sold gold and other assets they had bought as hedges against a possible victory by the Republican Trump, who has called for controls on trade and immigration. Markets also have been unnerved by Trump’s tax and economic plans. They were reassured by what some commentators saw as his poor showing in a televised debate with the Democrat Clinton, who is seen as more favorable to trade and continuity in U.S. economic policy.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The strong performance by Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump in the first presidential debate had a major impact on markets as some of the Trump-related hedges saw a pullback,” said Angus Nicholson of IG Markets in a report. “A number of safe haven assets had been bid up during the Trump poll surge as investors worried about what Trump would mean for the global economy, and particularly the global security risks he poses. Gold saw its biggest one-day decline in more than a month losing 0.8 percent as Trump’s probability of becoming president was seemingly diminished after his poor showing in the debate.”
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rebounded after a Conference Board survey showed consumer confidence is at a nine-year high, a sign Americans will keep spending in the months to come. Technology and consumer stocks made the largest gains. Technology companies jumped, and solid results from cruise line operator Carnival sent travel-related companies higher. Energy companies slumped with oil prices as hopes for an international cut in fuel production faded. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 133.47 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,228.30. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 13.83 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,159.93. The Nasdaq composite gained 48.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,305.71.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 22 cents to $44.90 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $1.26 on Tuesday to close at $44.67. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 24 cents to $46.76 in London. The contract dropped $1.41 the previous session to close at $46.52.
CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 100.72 yen from Tuesday’s 100.29 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.12.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzNewsRoom / WP) —- The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is in the books. I tweeted, took notes and picked some winners and losers. They’re below.
* Hillary Clinton: Clinton wasn’t perfect in this debate. At times she came across as overly rehearsed and robotic. I thought her answer on race relations was way too much head and not enough heart. But, Clinton was head and shoulders better than Trump. She was, unsurprisingly, very well prepared — using a slew of facts and figures to not only make her positive case but also to slam Trump. She was terrific in bashing Trump on taxes. Her response to Trump’s attack on her temperament — the shoulder shimmy! — was effective. Her birtherism response — while low-hanging fruit — was effective. And, on her biggest weakness — her decision to establish a private email server at the State Department, Clinton skated. She delivered a full and unequivocal apology — what a concept! — and the debate moved on without much of a stir. This was a clear win for her on virtually every front.
* Split Screen: I’m not sure who made the call at networks to keep Trump and Clinton on screen at all times during the debates, but whoever did it: good job! Debates are aimed at revealing not only policy proposals but also personality and temperament. Split screens help illuminate who these people are when under duress and attack, when they are nervous and when they feel backed into a corner. Trump didn’t fare as well as Clinton with the split screen. He sighed, made faces and looked, well, not very presidential.
* Lester Holt: My guess is that the “Nightly News” anchor will be criticized in some circles for a) not fact-checking Trump enough and b) often disappearing during the debate. On point A, it’s impossible to fact-check every single thing Trump says in real time without making the debate seven hours long. On point B, I applaud Holt for disappearing at times. Good moderators are the ones you don’t remember; they’re like referees in that regard. Holt let the two candidates duke it out time and time again. He avoided forcing a format on them or demanding that they move on when they were discussing real disagreements. That’s what he’s supposed to do! Want a testament to how well Holt did? I guarantee you no one is talking about him tomorrow. That’s a win.
* Twitter: I really don’t know how I watched debates before Twitter. Sure, it can be distracting at times. And mean. And snarky. Also, I just described why I love it so much.
* The “bigly” vs “big league” debate: I am certain Trump says “big league.” Other are convinced he says “bigly.” Regardless, he said one of those things a bunch on Monday night. Also, well done Merriam Webster!
* Donald Trump: Trump was simply not prepared well enough for this debate. He regularly struggled to deal with questions he had to know were coming. His answer on his five year quest to show that President Obama was not born in this country was like watching a car accident in slow motion. His answer on why he wasn’t willing to release his tax returns wasn’t much better. His explanation of his position on the Iraq war not only ran counter to the facts but made very little sense. On temperament, perhaps the key to Trump’s chances of beating Clinton, he resorted to insisting he had one of the best temperaments and that Clinton had come unhinged in a speech over the weekend. (Sidebar: If you have to say you have one of the best temperaments, you probably don’t.) Then there was the fact that Trump left so many potent hits on Clinton unused. He never once used the phrase “basket of deplorables.” He barely skirted her email problems. He didn’t even mention the words “honest” or “trustworthy.” And, as the debate wore on, Trump seemed to resort to his worst instincts — interrupting Clinton and shouting “not true” while she spoke, with very little back-up for those claims. Not a good night.
* Donald Trump’s website: Take a note: If you are going to make mention of your website during a presidential debate where the audience is likely to be upwards of 80 million people, make sure it is ready for some traffic.
* The debate stage background: Who thought it was a good idea to have words behind the two candidates? And in sort-of cursive no less! I am sure it seemed like a good idea in theory to have the Constitution as a background. But, in the words of our greatest philosopher, Homer Simpson, “in theory, communism works!” It was far too distracting for this viewer and needs to be done away with for future debates.
* The audience: Look, if you are going to have an audience why tell them repeatedly they can say and do nothing during the debate? I am agnostic on whether these general election debates should have an audience at all. But, if you are going to have one don’t tell them to never make a sound. A little bit of cheering and reaction makes the whole thing more watchable, more enjoyable and more real. If we don’t let the audience react every once in a while, then we let the “Quiet Car” people win. And we can’t let that happen.
* 400 pound hackers: Trump, pushing back against claims that the Russians were responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee, suggested that a 400 pound hacker sitting on a bed might have done it. Hmmm. I mean, maybe? If so, here’s what he looks like:
This gallery contains 1 photo.
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) — Donald Trump aggressively tried to pin the nation’s economic and national security problems on Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate, belittling the former senator and secretary of state as a “typical politician” incapable of delivering the change many Americans crave.
But Trump found himself on the defensive for much of the 90-minute showdown Monday night. Clinton was thoroughly prepared, not only with detailed answers about her own policy proposals, but also sharp criticism of Trump’s business record, his past statements about women, and his false assertions that President Barack Obama may not have been born in the United States. She said his charges about Obama were part of his pattern of “racist behavior.”
The Democrat also blasted Trump for his refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with decades of presidential campaign tradition. She declared, “There’s something he’s hiding.”
Trump has said he can’t release his tax returns because he is being audited, though tax experts have said an audit is no barrier to making the information public. When Clinton suggested Trump’s refusal may be because he paid nothing in federal taxes, he interrupted to say, “That makes me smart.”
The televised face-off was the most anticipated moment in an election campaign that has been historic, convulsive and unpredictable. The candidates entered the debate locked in an exceedingly close race to become America’s 45th president, and while both had moments sure to enliven their core constituencies, it was unclear whether the event would dramatically change the trajectory of the race.
The debate was confrontational from the start, with Trump frequently trying to interrupt Clinton and speaking over her answers. Clinton was more measured and restrained, often smiling through his answers, well-aware of the television cameras capturing her reaction.
Trump’s criticism of Clinton turned personal in the debate’s closing moments. He said, “She doesn’t have the look, she doesn’t have the stamina” to be president. He’s made similar comments in previous events, sparking outrage from Clinton backers who accused him of leveling a sexist attack on the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.
Clinton leapt at the opportunity to remind voters of Trump’s controversial comments about women, who will be crucial to the outcome of the November election.
“This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,” she said.
The centerpiece of Trump’s case against Clinton was that the former senator and secretary of state is little more than a career politician who has squandered opportunities to address the domestic and international problems she’s now pledging to tackle as president.
“She’s got experience,” he said, “but it’s bad experience.”
Clinton, who hunkered down for days of intensive debate preparation, came armed with a wealth of detailed attack lines. She named an architect she said built a clubhouse for Trump who says he was not fully paid and a former Miss Universe winner who says Trump shamed her for gaining weight. She quoted comments Trump had made about women, about Iraq and about nuclear weapons.
When Trump made a crack about Clinton taking time off the campaign trail to prepare for the debate, she turned it into a validation of her readiness for the White House.
“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate,” Clinton said. “And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”
The candidates sparred over trade, taxes and how to bring good-paying jobs back to the United States.
Clinton said her Republican rival was promoting a “Trumped-up” version of trickle-down economics — a philosophy focused on tax cuts for the wealthy. She called for increasing the federal minimum wage, spending more on infrastructure projects and guaranteeing equal pay for women.
Trump panned policies that he said have led to American jobs being moved overseas, in part because of international trade agreements that Clinton has supported. He pushed her aggressively on her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact while she was serving in the Obama administration. She’s since said she opposes the sweeping deal in its final form.
Trump repeatedly insisted that he opposed the Iraq War before the 2003 U.S. invasion, despite evidence to the contrary. Trump was asked in September 2002 whether he supported a potential Iraq invasion in an interview with radio personality Howard Stern. He responded: “Yeah, I guess so.”
Presented with the comment during the debate, Trump responded: “I said very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows.”
The Republican also appeared to contradict himself on how he might use nuclear weapons if he’s elected president. He first said he “would not do first strike” but then said he couldn’t “take anything off the table.”
Clinton said Trump was too easily provoked to serve as commander in chief and could be quickly drawn into a war involving nuclear weapons.
Some frequently hot-button issues were barely mentioned during the intense debate. Illegal immigration and Trump’s promises of a border wall were not part of the conversation. And while Clinton took some questions on her private email server, she was not grilled about her family’s foundation, Bill Clinton’s past infidelities or voter doubts about her trustworthiness.
Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
(PhatzNewsRoom / AP) —- Undeterred and infuriated by Western accusations of war crimes and barbarity in the aerial assault on Aleppo, the Syrian government and its ally Russia intensively bombed the city in northern Syria on Monday for the fourth consecutive day. Residents and rescuers there described the bombardment as among the worst yet in the five-year war.
Both the Kremlin and the Syrian government appeared to harden their position that the United States and its partners had caused the disintegration of a fleeting cease-fire last week. The Russians went as far as suggesting that the Western portrayal of them as war criminals in the Syria conflict risked a further alienation in relations.
Insurgent-held neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo were hit with dozens of air attacks in the predawn hours, killing and wounding many people, according to doctors, nurses and activists in the city. By some estimates the deaths totaled 100 or more for the fourth day.
A number of monitor groups disseminated graphic photos and video clips portraying the medical mayhem wrought by the bombings.
The Aleppo Media Center, a group of antigovernment activists and citizen journalists who have sought to document the conflict, posted video footage of civilian victims in on a dirty hospital floor getting little more than simple bandages for wounds.
Stockpiles of food and supplies have dwindled to near nothing on the rebel-held side, according to a report from Aleppo by Agence France-Presse. It also said a shortage of blood for transfusions had forced doctors at the few functioning hospitals to amputate limbs of the seriously wounded. Save the Children, the international charity, said children were “dying on the floors of hospitals” for lack of ventilators, anesthetics and antibiotics.
The crisis in Aleppo has drastically worsened since Thursday, when Syrian and Russian warplanes sharply escalated the bombing of the divided city as the cease-fire, negotiated by the Russians and Americans, collapsed.
The volume of bombings has increased, residents and rescue workers in Aleppo have said, and incendiary weapons and heavy-duty bombs that can destroy underground shelters have been used for the first time, wreaking havoc on crowded neighborhoods.
One Syrian ambulance crew called Shafak said Sunday that half the dead it had collected over the weekend were children, according to Save the Children. Forty percent of the population in eastern Aleppo are children, Save the Children said, a statistic that helps to explain the high rates of young casualties.
Ahmad Mustafa Makiyya, a volunteer with the ambulance team, said he had to pull his own family members from the rubble of their house, which was struck on Monday. The house was close to a gathering point for day laborers, he said, making the area especially crowded.
At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sunday, the United States, Britain and other allies said that the Russians were abetting war crimes in Aleppo by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Bunker-busting bombs, more suited to destroying military instillations, are now destroying homes, decimating bomb shelters, crippling, maiming, killing dozens, if not hundreds,” Matthew Rycroft, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, told the council session. Mr. Rycroft said that “in short, it is difficult to deny that Russia” is committing war crimes.
Samantha Power, his American counterpart, accused the Russians of “barbarism.”
Russia’s government, which has called the military campaign a necessary response to terrorist groups in Syria, responded harshly on Monday to the criticism.
“We note the overall unacceptable tone and rhetoric of the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States, which can damage and harm our relations,” Dimitry S. Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters in Moscow.
Mr. Peskov said moderate Syrian opposition groups backed by the United States and Western and Arab allies had not complied with the terms of the cease-fire by failing to separate themselves from the jihadist fighters of the Nusra Front, which now calls itself the Levant Conquest Front.
“Terrorists continue their encroachments, they continue offensives,” he said, so that “naturally the fight against terrorists is ongoing, and must not be stopped.”
International aid groups that have long denounced the indiscriminate brutality of the Syrian war were aghast at the intensified bombings in Aleppo. The city is home to roughly two million people, including at least 250,000 who live in the insurgent-held eastern zones.
The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, a Cincinnati-based group that supports hospitals in Syria, said the use of bunker-busting bombs in recent days had made the crisis more desperate.
“These bombs have the capacity to destroy fortified hospitals, medical points and underground shelters (where tens of thousands are taking shelter) at high risk,” the group said in a statement.
The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who has repeatedly denounced what he has called the Syrian government’s culpability in most civilian casualties of the war, also expressed shock at the use of bunker-busting bombs.
“These bombs are not busting bunkers,” he said. “They are demolishing ordinary people looking for any last refuge of safety. International law is clear: The systematic use of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas is a war crime.”
The power of these bombs is far more destructive than the barrels stuffed with explosives and shrapnel that Syrian government forces have been dropping on rebel-held areas, where they kill and maim indiscriminately.
An ordinary building hit by the so-called barrel bombs will crumble, but the bunker busters obliterate buildings and also leave deep and wide craters, said James Le Mesurier, director of the Stichting Mayday Rescue Foundation, a group that supports the civil defense search and rescue crews known as the White Helmets.
While underground bunkers in eastern Aleppo have afforded civilians some measure of protection from barrel bombs, Mr. Le Mesurier said, the bunker busters leave no place to hide.
Caroline Anning, a spokeswoman for Save the Children in southern Turkey, said Syrian relief workers she had spoken to in recent days told her they no longer felt safe in underground bunkers.
Schools — such as they are, operating in basements — have been shut since early July in rebel-held eastern Aleppo. They were scheduled to resume on Saturday, though that now seems unlikely, Ms. Anning said.
There was little indication Monday that diplomacy could be revived to stop the Aleppo assault, with each side blaming the other. Mr. Assad and his subordinates, emboldened by Russia’s assistance, have said over the past week that they intend to retake the entire city by force if necessary.
Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, said in a television interview that he considered the United States responsible for the collapse of the cease-fire and that Mr. Ban’s comments on the Aleppo bombings were “shameful.”
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters in Washington that diplomacy remained for now the only viable option for reducing the fighting in Syria and ending the war.
However, Mr. Earnest said, “it is hard to imagine the United States reaching any other negotiated agreement with the Russians until they have lived up to the commitments they have already made.”
This gallery contains 1 photo.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The new Philippine president uses an expletive to warn key ally Barack Obama not to lecture him on human rights and, in another impromptu speech, declares a dramatic policy change in policy such as removing U.S. counterterrorism forces out of his country’s volatile south. His key officials walk back the remarks and say everything is normal.
And the world wonders which pronouncement is the one that will stick.
Impassioned speeches by Rodrigo Duterte about the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have repeatedly led his government to issue clarifications, though he has been on the job less than three months.
Here’s a sampling of Duterte’s broadsides — and the ensuing clarifications by him or other Philippine officials.
‘SOB’ (BUT WON’T CUT UMBILICAL CORD)
THE STATEMENT: “I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum.”
—Duterte in a Sept. 5 speech, using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch” in answer to a reporter, who asked what he’ll do if President Barack Obama questions his deadly anti-drug fight when they meet in Laos during the annual summit of leaders of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
THE BACKTRACK: Obama responded by canceling a much-awaited meeting with Duterte, who expressed regret over his remarks. The two leaders, however, met informally in a holding room before a gala dinner in Laos, where Duterte said he told Obama the SOB remark wasn’t directed at him. The brash Duterte capped the tempestuous week in U.S.-Philippine ties by discussing, in another Laos meeting with Obama and other world leaders, how U.S. colonial forces killed Muslims in his country’s south in the early 1900s. Back home, Duterte railed at the U.S. again in a speech but said he would not “cut our umbilical cord to countries we are allied with.”
MIGRAINE OR PRINCIPLES?
THE STATEMENT: “I purposely did not attend the bilateral talks between ASEAN countries and … the president of the United States. I really skipped that … Now, the reason is not I am anti-West. The reason is not, I do not like the Americans. It’s simply a matter of principle for me.”
—Duterte in a Sept. 12 speech at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila.
THE BACKTRACK: The remarks by Duterte, who has been critical of Obama and U.S. security policies, came four days after his much-noticed absence from the summit of ASEAN leaders and the U.S. president in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.
Duterte’s spokesman, Martin Andanar, and at least three Cabinet officials, however, told the media in Vientiane at the time that the Philippine leader couldn’t attend the annual ASEAN-U.S. summit because he had a migraine and wasn’t feeling well.
DRIVING U.S. FORCES OUT OF THE SOUTH
THE STATEMENT: “The special forces, they have to go. They have to go in Mindanao. There are many whites there, they have to go.”
—Duterte in a Sept. 12 speech. He added that he was reorienting the Philippines’ foreign policy and that Americans were under threat of attack by Muslim militants. “I do not want a rift with America, but they have to go. It’ll become more heated. If they see an American, the latter will really be killed. Ransomed off, then killed.”
THE BACKTRACK: Duterte’s key officials initially explained that his remarks were based on fears for the safety of the Americans. But his defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, later played down the safety issue: “The fears of the president that they might be subject to reprisal by the Muslims is a little bit, may not happen because they’re only in the camp and they don’t go out of the camp alone or unless they’re accompanied by our troops or they are also armed. … (T)hese people are also combatants. They are not civilians that are subject to kidnapping by terrorists.
Duterte later suggested he only made the remarks to pacify restive Muslims opposed to the U.S. presence in the south: “I didn’t say (they) have to leave immediately. I said, ‘There will be sometime in the future that I will ask the special forces to go’ … I never said, ‘Get out of the Philippines,’ for after all, we need them there in the (South) China Sea.”
THE STATEMENT: “The issue here is not my mouth. And they would say the ratings on business, on the economy, so be it, you get out of here. Then we will start on our own. I can go to China, I can go to Russia. I had a talk with them, they are waiting for me, so what the hell.”
—Duterte, after U.S.-based firm Standard & Poor last week maintained its investment-grade rating and stable outlook for the Philippines but added that a credit rating upgrade in the next two years under Duterte was unlikely. It also warned it may lower that rating if reforms stall.
THE BACKTRACK: Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar took a more optimistic stance. “We welcome S&P’s decision as it gives government greater resolve to make our economy growth robust, sustainable, and inclusive. The fundamentals of the economy are solid and strong. … Peace and order is a must for investors to invest more in the country.”
ON BREAKING OFF FROM THE UNITED NATIONS:
THE STATEMENT: “Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you’re that rude, son of a bitch, we’ll just leave you. So take us out of your organization, you have done nothing here anyway.”
—Duterte at a news conference in August, reacting to concerns by U.N.-appointed human rights rapporteurs about drug-related killings.
THE BACKTRACK: Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay later assured that the Philippines isn’t bolting out of the 193-nation world body and clarified the context of the president’s remarks: “I can assure you that he remains committed to the United Nations, of which the Philippines is one of the founding members, and to the purposes and objectives of which this august body stands for.”
FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses with a fist bump during the anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing at the Philippine Air Force headquarters in Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines. Impassioned speeches by Duterte about the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have repeatedly led his government to issue clarifications, though he has been on the job less than three months. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
EDITOR’S NOTE — Jim Gomez is the chief Philippines correspondent for The Associated Press and is based in Manila.
This gallery contains 1 photo.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bombings in New York and New Jersey — and a stabbing attack in Minnesota the same day — underscore that homegrown attacks inspired by violent extremists are as much a threat to the United States as those directed by terrorists, the nation’s Homeland Security chief says.
While all attacks are difficult to detect and prevent, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the United States and its allies continue to “take the fight militarily to terrorist organizations overseas” 15 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
In prepared testimony before a Senate committee Tuesday, Johnson said air strikes and special operations against the so-called Islamic State terror group have led to the deaths of a number of its leaders. While it remains a threat, the Islamic State has lost nearly half the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq and thousands of square miles in Syria, Johnson said.
At the same time it loses territory, the group has “increased its plotting on targets outside of Iraq and Syria and continues to encourage attacks in the United States,” Johnson said.
Johnson, FBI Director James Comey and Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, are set to testify Tuesday as the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee looks at security threats 15 years after 9/11.
The panel’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson said the threat of “militant Islamic terrorist attacks to the United States remains significant,” citing the Sept. 17 attacks in the New York region and Minnesota, as well as deadly attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando.
“In all, Islamic extremist terrorist have killed 63 people on U.S. soil since our committee last held its annual hearing to consider threats to the homeland,” Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a prepared statement.
Two years after President Barack Obama stated a goal of defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, “we have made little progress,” said Johnson, who is not related to the Homeland Security chief.
Ahmad Khan Rahami, the main suspect in the New York bombing, faces federal terrorism charges after a shootout with police.
Prosecutors say Rahami, 28, planned the explosions for months as he bought components for his bombs online and set off a backyard blast. They say he wrote a journal that praised Osama bin Laden and other Muslim extremists, fumed about what he saw as the U.S. government’s killing of Muslim holy warriors and declared “death to your oppression.”
While Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has suggested a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, Jeh Johnson said the U.S. should focus on “building bridges to diverse communities” to defend the homeland.
Lawmakers also may focus on police shootings in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C., as well as Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Republicans have assailed Comey’s decision not to prosecute Clinton, now the Democratic nominee for president. Several have demanded the Justice Department investigate whether Clinton lied during testimony last year on the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Democrats call the claims partisan and intended to hurt Clinton’s candidacy.
FILE – In this March 21, 2016, file photo, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addresses an audience during a forum at John F. Kennedy School of Government on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass. Bombings in New York and New Jersey, and a stabbing attack in Minnesota the same day, underscore that homegrown attacks inspired by violent extremists are as much a threat to the United States as those directed by terrorists, the nation’s Homeland Security chief said. Johnson said the U.S. should be ‘building bridges to diverse communities’ to defend the homeland. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Follow Matthew Daly: http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC