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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
A U.S. military base in Syria has been the target of a “deliberate and coordinated” attack involving both drones and indirect fire. According to U.S. Central Command (CentCom), the initial assessment suggested that there were no injuries as a result of the attack on the At-Tanf military base, which is near the Jordanian border. CentCom spokesperson Capt. Bill Urban said, “we maintain the inherent right of self-defense and will respond at a time and place of our choosing.” There has not been a claim of responsibility for the attack. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
The U.S. did not attribute blame to anyone for the attack on the military base in its statement on the attack. However, “for several years, [the United States] has attempted a balancing act with Iranian-backed militias along the Iraq-Syria border who want to drive the United States out of both countries and launch periodic attacks on U.S. positions,” Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post.
Syrian government forces shelled a marketplace and roads in the town of Ariha in the Idlib region, the last major section of Syria still held by rebels, killing at least 13 people, including children, yesterday. Salem Abdan, the head of Idlib’s health directorate, said in a text message that at least 13 people had been killed, including three children, while UNICEF’s Middle East spokesperson, said that the organization had confirmed that four children were killed in the shelling while they were on their way to school. Jared Malsin and Nazih Osseiran report for the Wall Street Journal.
A little-known group called Saraya Qasiyoun has claimed responsibility for the roadside bombing in Damascus yesterday that killed at least 14 people. The group claimed responsibility in a statement shared on its Telegram channel and said it will continue its operations inside government-held areas “in response to the daily massacres that the regime and its militias commit against our people in the freed north.” The shelling in Ariha by government forces was reported by local media about an hour after the attack in Damascus. Sarah Dadouch reports for the Washington Post.
The Syrian government is siphoning off millions of dollars of foreign aid by forcing U.N. agencies to use a lower exchange rate, according to new research from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Operations & Policy Center, and the Center for Operational Analysis and Research. “The Central Bank of Syria, which is sanctioned by the U.K., U.S. and E.U., in effect made $60m…in 2020 by pocketing $0.51 of every aid dollar sent to Syria, making U.N. contracts one of the biggest money-making avenues for President Bashar al-Assad and his government,” Tessa Fox reports for the Guardian.
Syrian President Basha Assad and the United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had a rare telephone call yesterday in which they discussed strengthening relations and cooperation, Syria’s state media has reported. “Assad’s office said [that] the two leaders discussed mutual relations and ways of strengthening them in addition to expanding cooperation. It added that they also discussed regional and international affairs,” AP reports.
The Department of Commerce has taken further steps to crack down on the sale of hacking products used by foreign governments and other groups to survey and repress individuals. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued a rule that will establish control on the export, re-export, or transfer of certain cybersecurity items by requiring a license to ship these products to any countries posing a national security or weapons of mass destruction risk. In a statement yesterday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the rule was intended to promote cybersecurity and protect human rights, adding that it is “an appropriately tailored approach that protects America’s national security against malicious cyber actors while ensuring legitimate cybersecurity activities.” The rule comes amid growing concerns about the use of hacking tools by foreign governments for the purpose of surveillance. Maggie Miller reports for The Hill.
Spain’s highest criminal court has agreed to extradite Venezuela’s former intelligence chief, Hugo Carvajal, to the U.S., where he faces drug trafficking charges. The decision comes after Carvajal was denied asylum in Spain. The Spanish authorities first detained Carvajal on the American extradition request in April 2019 after he fled to Spain, but he was then released from prison after a court deemed the extradition request to be too “abstract” to prove his involvement in drug trafficking. Carvajal was a prominent figure in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government before he broke with him in February 2019 by accusing Maduro of running a corrupt dictatorship. According to charges filed in federal court in New York, the U.S. Department of Justice stated that Carvajal coordinated the transportation of about six tons of cocaine to Mexico from Venezuela. Raphael Minder reports for the New York Times.
The next few weeks will be “decisive” in determining whether the U.S. and Iran are able to return to indirect negotiations on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, the General Secretary of the International Automatic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has said. Iran, in response to an urgent appeal by Grossi, has now extended an invitation for him to meet with its political leaders in Tehran in the coming days, Grossi explained in an interview. “On his agenda are interruptions in international monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program and other questions that, if they are not resolved, could make it virtually impossible to return to the agreement,” Karen DeYoung and Job Warrick report for the Washington Post.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said that he believes that Turkey and the U.S. will make progress in talks for the sale of F-16 fighter jets and that Ankara will recoup $1.4 billion it paid for F-35s it is blocked from buying. “We will get this $1.4 billion of ours one way or another,” the state-owned Anadolu news agency quoted Erdogan as saying. “I believe we will make progress. We will of course talk about this with [President] Biden at the G20 meeting in Rome,” Erdogan added. Reuters reporting.
Dozens of protesters and human rights activists are calling on the Pakistani government to work to end the continued imprisonment of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui in the U.S.. the protesters gathered outside the Pakistan Consulate in New York yesterday. “The rally was part of a series of protests organised by a coalition of more than 20 local and national human rights and religious groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations… Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated-Pakistani national, was charged with attempting to kill U.S. soldiers and FBI agents during interrogation after her arrest in 2008 in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province,” Raqib Hameed Naik reports for Al Jazeera.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
The U.S. Capitol Police Office of Inspector General has detailed shortcomings with the police division tasked with protecting congressional leadership during the Jan. 6 attack. The watchdog’s report highlighted multiple problems that affected the police division, including that the division “was short at least a quarter of its staff on Jan. 6, had reported ballistic vest issues, and did not have a plan of action that day,” Nichols Wu reports for POLITICO.
House Republicans are expected to overwhelmingly oppose an effort to hold former President Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena. In an email sent yesterday evening, House Republican leadership officially informed members of their recommendation to vote against holding Bannon in contempt of Congress. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) called the creation of the select committee investigation of Jan. 6 “a very partisan exercise” and added, “You’re seeing most members get tired of the witch hunts and the games.” The two Republicans on the select committee, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), voted in favor of the resolution to hold Bannon in contempt during the select committee’s markup. Despite opposition by House Republicans, Democrats do not need any Republican votes to refer a criminal contempt charge to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which will ultimately decide whether to bring charges against Bannon. Melanie Zanona, Ryan Nobles, and Annie Grayer report for CNN.
The Jan. 6 select committee “is more interested in pursuing a partisan agenda to politicize the January 6th attack rather than conducting a legitimate good faith investigation into the security failures leading up to and on that day,” a Republican whip notice released yesterday evening reads. The whip notice goes on to cast doubt over the reach of congressional power, saying that Congress’s authority “does not include law enforcement powers.” The House is scheduled to vote today on the Jan. 6 select committee’s recommendation for Bannon to be referred to the DOJ. Rebecca Beitsch reports for The Hill.
Attorney General Merrick Garland is to be put at the center of a legal and political storm by the Jan. 6 select committee’s referral of Bannon for contempt charges. Garland’s nomination to Attorney General premised on insulating the DOJ from politics and pledged against partisanship at his confirmation hearing, telling senators: “I am not the President’s lawyer, I am the United States’ lawyer.” However, the matter over Bannon has already put Garland in an uncomfortable position, after President Biden, when asked Friday whether witnesses should be prosecuted for not cooperating with the committee, said, “I do.” The DOJ responded with a strikingly forceful statement that said that it makes “its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop.” Tierney Sneed and Jessica Schneider report for CNN.
An Army reservist, who was known among colleagues for sporting a “Hitler mustache,” was demoted and discharged earlier this year after he was charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Timothy Hale-Cusanelli was working part-time as an Army Reserve sergeant in human resources. In May, he was demoted to private — the enlisted force’s lowest rank — and given an other-than-honorable discharge the next month. Hale-Cusanelli is the first known service member to be forced out of the military after officials learned of an alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. Federal authorities have accused Hale-Cusanelli of illegally entering the Capitol, using hand and arm signals to advance rioters forward, and harassing police officers. Alex Horton reports for the Washington Post.
NAVY SUBMARINE SPY CASE
A Maryland couple, charged with selling U.S. secrets relating to nuclear-powered submarines, were planning to flee the country. The Annapolis couple, arrested on Oct. 9, allegedly exchanged $100,000 in cryptocurrency for sensitive Navy documents. At the bail hearing on Wednesday, Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to challenge bail, but his wife sought release. Prosecutors then laid out new details of the couple’s plan to escape the country with cash and a cryptocurrency wallet. Josh Gerstein reports for POLITICO.
The couple both pleaded not guilty yesterday in separate hearings to charges relating to accusations that they sought to sell sensitive secrets to a foreign country about the Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines. Pete Williams reports for NBC News.
The FBI are still unable to find the money paid to the accused Maryland spy couple or the remaining sensitive documents that were allegedly smuggled out of government buildings, an FBI agent testified yesterday. The prosecutors at the federal court hearing were seeking to convince the Magistrate Judge that the couple were skilled enough in espionage that Dianna Toebbe’s bail request pending trial should be denied. “FBI special agent Peter Olinits testified in court that he was concerned she might flee, in part because agents have searched the Toebbe home and their computers and so far have found neither the $100,000 in cryptocurrency that the U.S. government paid the couple nor the thousands of additional pages of secret documents the bureau says Toebbe stole from his job. Olinits said that in three of the four instances in which Jonathan Toebbe allegedly dropped secret files to be picked up later by what he thought was his foreign intelligence service handler, Diana Toebbe was just a few feet away, acting as a lookout,” Devlin Barrett reports for the Washington Post.
How Toebbe, who had gone to remarkable lengths to protect his identity and evade detection, eventually surfaced and was caught by FBI agents, is reported on by William Wan and Ian Shapira for the Washington Post.
Soldiers did not know how to react and their leaders did not take control, when a fire broke out aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard in July 2020, a 400 page report on the incident, officially released yesterday, found. Once the blaze started, “the response effort was placed in the hands of inadequately trained and drilled personnel from a disparate set of uncoordinated organizations that had not fully exercised together and were unfamiliar with basic issues to include the roles and responsibilities of the various responding entities,” the report states. “Overall, this command investigation concluded that the loss of the ship was clearly preventable, and this is unacceptable,” Naval Operations Vice Chief Adm. Bill Lescher told reporters. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) has requested that the army conduct a “full and independent” examination on the initial investigation in the death of a paratrooper, Enrique Roman-Martinez. Roman-Martinezo was reported missing in May 2020, and later found dead, after going on a camping trip with fellow soldiers on an island off the North Carolina coast. Roman-Martinez’s “family has spent over 16 months painfully waiting for justice with no end in sight. During this time, the family has lost all confidence in the Army Criminal Investigation Command,” Torres wrote in a letter to Department of Defense Inspector General Sean O’Donnell. “Torres also wants a review on how the military communicated with Roman-Martinez’s family, addressed language barriers, the army’s treatment of any people of interest during the investigation, and whether any logistical or jurisdictional hurdles affected the speed of the probe,” Olafimihan Oshin reports for The Hill.
Former President Trump has announced that he is launching his own social media company, “TRUTH Social.” Trump said that he aimed “to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the Big Tech companies of Silicon Valley.” Trump announced he had secured financing of roughly $300 million for the venture. The partner financing the deal is Digital World Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company. The announcement promised that the app for the new social media company would be available for pre-sale, and mock up illustrations of the platform seem to resemble Twitter. Jeremy W. Peters and David Enrich report for the New York Times.
Special counsel John Durham gave a glimpse yesterday of his extensive use of a federal grand jury to bring a false statement charge against former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, as part of his investigation of the FBI probe into Trump and Russia. “In a new court filing, Durham says he issued subpoenas to 15 people and entities in the course of his investigation, including political organizations, a university, researchers, an investigative firm, and companies,” Katelyn Polantz reports for CNN.
The Trump Organization is facing a new criminal inquiry by the Westchester County district attorney’s office into the financial dealings at one of the company’s golf courses. The district attorney has subpoenaed records from the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester county. The investigation appears to be focused, at least in part, on whether the Trump Organization misled local officials about the value of the property to reduce property taxes. William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess report for the New York Times.
Senate Republicans blocked a voting rights bill for the third time with a vote of 49 to 51. The bill, introduced by Democrats, included provisions to make Election Day a national holiday, require early voting and mail in ballot options in every state, change the process of drawing congressional districts, and impose new campaign finance disclosure requirements. Alex Rogers and Daniella Diaz report for CNN.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NB) has stepped down as the top Republican on the House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, one day after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of lying to federal investigators about his campaign contributions. “Under House Republican rules, lawmakers who have been indicted must resign from their committee assignments while the charges are pending…. The congressman…said in a video released Monday evening that he anticipated the indictment. His wife, Celeste, in a letter to supporters before the indictment was announced, labeled it a ‘false accusation,’” Felicia Sonmez and Donna Cassata report for the Washington Post.
A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. does not have a legal basis for holding an Afghan man at Guantánamo Bay because, despite fighting on the side of a militia in Afghanistan, he was not part of Al Qaeda. In a petition of habeas corpus, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta found that the detainee, Assadullah Haroon Gul, does not qualify as a member of Al Qaeda or an associated force, which makes up the legal basis for detention at Guantánamo Bay. Gul was captured in 2006 as a member of an Islamic militia. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said lawyers are still considering whether to appeal the decision. Carol Rosenberg reports for the New York Times.
Taliban representatives have attended their first international conference since the group took power in August, joining a gathering of senior officials from Russia, China, and other countries, including neighboring countries to Afghanistan, in Moscow. The Taliban were put under pressure to form a more inclusive government and pursue a friendly policy toward Afghanistan’s neighbors. “In a statement issued following Wednesday’s talks, the participants expressed concern over the manifestation of activities by banned terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, but called for establishing engagement with the country regardless of whether the international community recognizes the Taliban as the new Afghan government… The conference participants — which also included senior officials from Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — urged the international community to mobilize efforts to provide urgent economic and humanitarian aid to the conflict-ridden, cash-strapped nation,” Ann M. Simmons reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The Taliban rulers won the backing of 10 regional powers at talks in Moscow yesterday for the idea of a U.N. donor conference to help the country stave off economic collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe. Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan joined the Taliban in calling for the U.N. to convene such a conference as soon as possible to help rebuild the country. The countries said such a conference should take place “with the understanding, of course, that the main burden…should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in this country over the past 20 years.” Reuters reports.
The U.N. has set up a special trust fund to provide urgently-needed cash directly to Afghan people through a system tapping into donor funds frozen since the Taliban took control of the country in August. The aim is to inject liquidity into Afghan households to permit them to survive this winter and remain in their homeland despite turmoil, the U.N. Development Programme’s administrator, Archim Steiner, said. “We have to step in, we have to stabilise a ‘people’s economy,’ and, in addition to saving lives, we also have to save livelihoods,” Steiner told a news briefing. Stephanie Nebehay reports for Reuters.
Almost half of Afghan refugees held at U.S. bases are children, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said in a letter to lawmakers. According to the letter, responding to written questions from Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, about 22% of the 53,000 Afghan evacuees brought to the U.S. and living at military installations are female adults and 34% are male adults. The letter did not address how many of the children were unaccompanied by adult guardians, and Inhofe has not asked the question. Nancy A. Youssef reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Over 200 female judges in Afghanistan are in hiding. The judges, who made rulings in divorce, family law, domestic violence, and custody cases are under threat from the Taliban for sitting in judgment of men. David Zucchino reports for the New York Times.
The Taliban commander who used to run Taliban suicide-bombing squads in Kabul is now a police chief for one of Kabul’s districts, one of thousands of former Taliban fighters thrown into mundane jobs as the new government struggles to stay on its feet in Afghanistan. Saeed Shah reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Afghan public health facilities are being forced to turn many patients away as international aid is slow to enter the country. Health-care facilities across Kabul and Afghanistan are struggling to provide basic services, especially in rural areas, humanitarian groups are reporting. In an interview, Abdul Bari Umar, a Taliban deputy health minister, said the “main factor” in Afghanistan’s struggling health-care system was that the world had abandoned the country for political reasons. “Umar did not say how the new government plans to address the health crisis, but he asserted that it has made strides to improve health care by stopping widespread corruption and nepotism,” Pamela Constable reports for the Washington Post.
NORTH KOREA AND SOUTH KOREA
The U.S. and several European countries have condemned North Korea’s recent missile test and have reiterated the urgent need to increase the implementation of U.N. sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and its economic activities. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged North Korea to stop its “reckless provocations” that violate Security Council sanctions resolutions. She urged all countries to fully implement U.N. sanctions “so that we can prevent the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] from accessing the funds, the technology, the know-how it needs to further develop unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.” Thomas-Greenfield also reiterated the U.S.’s call for North Korea to start talks with the Biden administration without preconditions and that the U.S. has “no hostile intent toward the DPRK.” “In a separate statement, the three members of the European Union on the Security Council — Ireland, France and Estonia — said Monday’s reported test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile ‘forms part of a pattern of provocations by the DPRK’ in recent weeks, including launches of short-range ballistic missiles, long-range cruise missiles, ‘and what it has claimed to be a hypersonic glider,’” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
Thomas-Greenfield also called for North Korea to engage in “sustained and substantive dialogue toward the goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” “We are committed to working closely with the international community to reduce tensions and maintain peace and stability in the region,” she added. Caroline Vikal reports for The Hill.
North Korea has said that the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council are “tampering with a dangerous time bomb” following a meeting over the nation’s most recent ballistic missile test, North Korean state media has reported. The U.N. Security Council held a closed-door meeting yesterday in the wake of North Korea’s claims on Tuesday that it has successfully test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an article published by state media that the U.S. had taken “provocative moves” by calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “When doing the recent test-firing we did not have the U.S. in mind nor aimed at it, but it is the work which had already been planned purely for the defense of the country…So there is no need for the U.S. to worry or trouble itself over the test-firing,” the ministry said. Yoonjung Seo, Samantha Beech and Philip Wang report for CNN.
South Korea has launched its first homegrown rocket, stepping up the country’s ambitions in space as an arms race also heats up between North Korea and South Korea. The Korean Satellite Launch Vehicle II, known as Nuri, took off from Goheung located 500km (310 miles) south of Seoul. It put a 1.5 tonne dummy satellite into orbit. South Korea plans to carry out four more launches of the Nuri until 2027 to increase reliability, according to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute that is overseeing the launch. BBC News reports.
A hacking tool linked to a Russian crime ring is believed to have been used in ransomware attack that disrupted programming at Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair, the second largest operator of TV stations in the U.S., had the production of its local newscasts impeded on Sunday and Monday. According to a security researcher who reviewed the ransom note, the code resembles one previously used by Russian crime group Evil Corp. Allan Liska, senior intelligence analyst at Recorded Future said, “according to someone that I have been in direct contact with, who is part of the recovery team at Sinclair, the company was hit with Macaw ransomware, which appears to be a new ransomware from Evil Corp.” The group Evil Corp is sanctioned by the U.S. government and has been accused of stealing $100 million from victims around the world in part by breaking into bank account login information. Despite this analysis, neither Sinclair nor the U.S. government have officially named a culprit in the hack. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
NATO defense ministers are set to agree a new master plan today to defend against any potential Russian attack on multiple fronts, diplomats and officials have said. The strategy, which is confidential, aims to prepare for any simultaneous attack in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, possibly including nuclear weapons, hacking of computer networks or from space. U.S. officials and NATO diplomats have said that no such attack is imminent but say that the strategy is needed as Russia develops advanced weapon systems and deploys troops and equipment closer to allied borders. “Russia denies any war-like intentions and says it is NATO that risks destabilizing Europe with such preparations,” Robin Emmott reports for Reuters.
Moscow has warned NATO that any move towards Ukraine’s membership in NATO will have consequences, the RIA state news agency has quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko as saying. “Rudenko had been asked about U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comments on a visit to Ukraine this week when he said that Washington supported Kyiv’s aspirations to join the transatlantic alliance and that no country could veto such a move,” Reuters reports.
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been awarded the prestigious European human rights Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in recognition of his work in defense of human rights. “He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life,” European Parliament President David Sassoli said in announcing the award to Navalny. “Today’s prize recognizes his immense bravery and we reiterate our call for his immediate release,” Sassoli added. Adela Suliman reports for the Washington Post.
The Kremlin has said that Russia cannot be forced to respect the European Parliament’s decision to award the Sakharov Prize to Navalny. A Kremlin spokesperson told reporters the decision had been made by people without reliable data. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
The U.N. Security Council has urged leaders in central Africa’s Great Lakes region to seize the momentum of recent positive political developments to make progress toward ending conflicts and the illegal exploitation of gold and other natural resources in eastern Congo. “A presidential statement adopted by the U.N.’s most powerful body cited diplomatic efforts reinvigorated by the presidents of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi that have resulted in improved bilateral cooperation. The council also commended efforts by the African Union and regional groups to support the political process and help solve conflicts in the region,” Edith M. Lederer reports for AP.
A leak of documents has revealed how countries, including Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia, are seeking to “lobby” the U.N. to play down the need for the world to move rapidly away from fossil fuels to tackle climate change. The documents have also shown how some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies, and the leak is raising questions for the COP26 climate summit in November. “The leaked documents consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists compiling a U.N. report designed to bring together the best scientific evidence on how to tackle climate change,” Justin Rowlatt and Tom Gerken report for BBC News.
The U.K. has raised the terrorism threat level against U.K. lawmakers to “substantial,” following the stabbing and death of U.K. Parliamentarian Sir David Ames. Home Secretary Priti Patel told the U.K. House of Commons that police and intelligence services would “properly” reflect the change in their security arrangements. However, she added there was no information on “any credible, specific or imminent threat.” BBC News reports.
The Crown’s Prosecution Service has charged the man who stabbed Sir David, Ali Harbi Ali, with murder following an investigation led by counter-terrorism police. The service also charged Ali with the preparation of terrorist attacks. The prosecution service said it would argue to the court that the murder had “a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideoligical motivations.” Vikram Dodd reports for the Guardian.
Eswatini’s government has directed the country’s main telecoms operator, MTN, to shut down Facebook in a bid to curb pro-democracy protests and demands for major constitutional reforms in the country which has the last absolute monarchy in Africa. “Privately-owned pro-opposition Swaziland News website reported on the government accusing social media platforms of ‘irresponsibly’ spreading misinformation, which was ‘contributing to the violent attacks and events around the country’… MTN also sent a message to its users informing them of the decision to shut down Facebook,” BBC News reports.
The coronavirus has infected close to 45.22 million people and has now killed over 731,200 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 242.06 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.92 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley, and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A Brazilian Senate report yesterday recommended pursuing crimes against humanity and other charges against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for allegedly failing to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and contributing to nearly half the country’s death toll of more than 600,000 Covid-19 deaths. “Sen. Renan Calheiros presented the proposal to a committee of colleagues that has spent six months investigating the Brazilian government’s management of the pandemic. The decision on whether to file most of the charges would be up to Brazil’s prosecutor-general, a Bolsonaro appointee and ally,” DÉbora Álvares and Diane Jeantet report for AP.
The Covid-19 pandemic will “go on for a year longer than it needs to” because poorer countries are unable to get the vaccines they need, a senior leader at the World Health Organization has said. Dr. Bruce Aylward said that vaccine inequity would mean that the crisis could “easily drag on deep into 2022.” “Less than 5% of Africa’s population have been vaccinated, compared to 40% on most other continents… The vast majority of Covid vaccines overall have been used in high-income or upper middle-income countries. Africa accounts for just 2.6% of doses administered globally,” Naomi Grimley reports for BBC News.
The U.S. has donated 200 million Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the world, a White House official has said. The vaccines were all successfully delivered and went to over 100 countries, the official said. The State Department also released a video to celebrate the 200 million vaccines, “touting that the U.S. donated more vaccines than any other country in the world and all at no cost and with no strings attached,” Alex Gangitano reports for The Hill.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.