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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 30-hour siege by Shabab militants at a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has left 21 people dead and 117 wounded, government officials have said. The attack on Friday evening was the first complex and sustained assault carried out by Al Shabab in the Somali capital since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in May. The attack drew condemnation from the U.N. along with countries including Kuwait and Turkey. The U.S. State Department also issued a statement deploring the attack, saying that the U.S. would continue to support Somalia in its “efforts to counter terrorism and build a secure and prosperous future.” Abdi Latif Dahir reports for the New York Times.
Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has formally filed a petition to Kenya’s Supreme Court challenging the country’s recent election results. Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja (Aspiration to Unite) coalition claimed it had enough evidence in the petition to prove misconduct by the electoral commission after the August 9th presidential election that resulted in a narrow win for Deputy President William Ruto. This is Odinga’s fifth time running and third time challenging his loss in presidential elections through the Supreme Court. Bethlehem Feleke and Larry Madowo report for CNN.
Pakistani police have filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan. The charges followed a speech Khan gave in Islamabad on Saturday in which he vowed to sue police officers and a female judge and alleged that a close aide had been tortured after his arrest. Khan could face several years in prison for the new charges, which accuse him of threatening police officers and the judge under the country’s sedition act. A court in Islamabad has issued a so-called “protective bail” for Khan, preventing police from arresting him over the charges for the next three days. Munir Ahmed reports for AP.
Mexico’s former attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam was arrested on Friday in connection with the violent abduction and likely massacre of 43 students in 2014. He is the first high-level official to be detained in connection to the case, and the authorities said Friday that they had also issued more than 80 arrest warrants related to it, including for military officers, police officers and cartel members. It was not immediately clear if any of those warrants had led to other arrests, but their sudden announcement came just a day after the Mexican government said an official inquiry had found the disappearance of the students to be a “crime of the state” involving every layer of government. Oscar Lopez reports for the New York Times.
Japan is considering the deployment of 1,000 long-range cruise missiles to boost its counterattack capability against China, the Yomiuri newspaper reported yesterday. The arms would be stationed mainly around the southern Nansei islands and would be capable of reaching coastal areas of North Korea and China. Reuters reports.
Preparations are underway for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to travel to Central Asia to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and other leaders at a regional summit in mid-September, according to people familiar with the planning. The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is scheduled to take place in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Sept. 15 and 16. The tentative addition of the trip to Xi’s schedule was prompted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this month, which was seen in Beijing as an escalation of Western pressure on China, some of the people said. Keith Zhai reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-IN) arrived in Taiwan yesterday, making him the latest U.S. official to visit the self-governing island amid its escalating tensions with China. Holcomb and a delegation that includes Indiana’s commerce secretary are in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei to kick off an “economic development trip” in Taiwan and South Korea, following the signing of the federal CHIPS Act and the recent announcement that Taiwan-based semiconductor company MediaTek will open a design center in Indiana, his office said in a statement. Jennifer Deaton and Veronica Stracqualursi report for CNN.
Iran has accused the U.S. of “procrastinating” in talks aimed at reinstating Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, calling on Washington to show flexibility to resolve the remaining issues. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani also emphasized that the concurrent exchange of prisoners with Washington was a separate issue and was not linked to the negotiations. Parisa Hafezi reports for Reuters.
President Biden’s administration will press ahead with talks on releasing billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s foreign-held assets despite frustrations with the Taliban. The decision to pursue the initiative to help stabilize Afghanistan’s collapsed economy underscores growing concern in Washington over a humanitarian crisis as the U.N. warns that nearly half the country’s 40 million people face “acute hunger” as winter approaches. At the core of the U.S.-led effort is a plan to transfer billions in foreign-held Afghan central bank assets into a proposed Swiss-based trust fund. Disbursements would be made with the help of an international board and bypass the Taliban, many of whose leaders are under U.S. and U.N. sanctions. Jonathan Landay reports for Reuters.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) from testifying in the investigation into efforts by President Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The appeals court instructed a lower court to determine whether Graham should be exempt from answering certain kinds of questions, given his status as a federal lawmaker. The ruling gives a temporary reprieve to Graham, who has been fighting prosecutors’ efforts to bring him before a special grand jury. Graham had been expected to testify behind closed doors on Tuesday. Richard Fausset reports for the New York Times.
An associate of Rudolph Giuliani tried to pass a message to Trump asking him to grant Giuliani a “general pardon” and the Presidential Medal of Freedom just after the Jan. 6 attack, according to a new book set to be released next month. The letter was intercepted by Guiliani’s close adviser Bernard B. Kerik before reaching the then president according to the book “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor,” by Andrew Kirtzman, who had covered Giuliani as a journalist. It is unclear if Giuliani, who helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election but has repeatedly insisted he did not seek a pardon shielding him from potential charges, was involved in the request. Maggie Haberman reports for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Justice Department (DOJ) must make public an internal memo senior lawyers prepared in 2019 on then President Trump’s actions investigated in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and whether these amounted to crimes prosecutors would ordinarily charge. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the DOJ failed to meet its legal burden to show that the memo from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel was part of a genuine deliberative process advising then-Attorney General William Barr on how to handle sensitive issues left unresolved when Mueller’s probe concluded in March 2019. Trump was never charged in Mueller’s probe and the special prosecutor’s final report declined to opine on whether what he did in response to the investigation amounted to a crime. However, some Trump opponents have called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to reconsider the issue now that Trump is no longer president. The release of the long-sought DOJ memo could fuel those calls and draw more attention to Trump’s potential criminal liability. Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney report for POLITICO.
Russian authorities have opened a murder investigation into the killing of Daria Dugina, daughter of influential, ultra-nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin. Dugina was killed in a car bombing in an affluent Moscow suburb on Saturday evening. There was no evidence that the attack was connected to the war in Ukraine, but associates of Dugina have claimed that Ukraine was behind it. Whilst Ukraine has denied any involvement, the rare attack on a member of the pro-Kremlin elite — reminiscent of the fiery assassinations of Moscow’s chaotic 1990s — has the potential to further upend Putin’s efforts to pursue the war in Ukraine while maintaining a sense of normalcy at home. Anton Troianovski reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. and other countries are taking action which could officially label Russian diamonds as “conflict diamonds,” claiming their sale helps pay for Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine. “Proceeds from that production are benefiting the same state that is conducting a premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war,” George Cajati, a State Department official, wrote in a letter in May to the chair of the Kimberley Process, an international organization created by a U.N. resolution to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds. The E.U., Canada and other nations in the West, as well as Ukraine and several activist organizations, have joined in similar calls for a discussion about the invasion’s implications. Dionne Searcey reports for the New York Times.
The authorities in Albania have arrested two Russian men and a Ukrainian woman on suspicion of espionage after one of the men was found inside a weapons factory. A 24-year-old Russian man sprayed two security officers with a chemical after he was found trying to take photos inside the factory in the city of Gramsh. He was arrested, and the authorities detained another Russian man, 33, and a Ukrainian woman, 25, who were outside the factory in a vehicle. Both are believed to be accompanying the 24-year-old man found in the factory. Ora News, an Albania broadcaster, reported that the three had told the police that they were bloggers who liked to document old military bases in former communist countries. Austin Ramzy reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA, UKRAINE – ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
The U.S., Britain, France and Germany have stressed the need to ensure the safety of nuclear installations threatened by the conflict in Ukraine. Following a phone call yesterday, the leaders of the four countries urged military restraint around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine, where renewed fighting has led to fears of disaster worse than that in Chernobyl in 1986. The leaders also welcomed a deal – approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday – to allow U.N. inspectors to visit the plant at a future date. Henri Astier reports for BBC News.
Russia fired rockets at towns to the west of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine early today. Overnight Russian rocket salvoes into Nikopol, across the Dnipro from Russian-occupied Enerhodar where the Zaporizhzhia plant is situated, regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. Ukraine also reported a Russian missile strike on Voznesensk, to the southwest and not far from the country’s second-largest atomic power station. Pavel Polityuk reports for Reuters.
COVID-19 has infected over 93.64 million people and has now killed over 1.04 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 596.288 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.45 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
A map and analysis of the vaccine rollout 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.