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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.
Queen Elizabeth II, the U.K.’s longest-serving monarch, has died at her Scottish estate aged 96, after reigning for 70 years. She has been succeeded by her son King Charles III. In a statement, the King said the death of his mother was a “moment of great sadness” for him and his family and that her loss would be “deeply felt” around the world. He said: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother.” “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.” BBC News reports.
Live coverage is provided by BBC News.
North Korea has passed a law declaring itself to be a nuclear weapons state, according to state news agency KCNA. The country’s leader Kim Jong-un called the decision “irreversible” and ruled out the possibility of any talks on denuclearisation, it said. The law also enshrines the country’s right to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike to protect itself. BBC News reports.
Turkish security forces have arrested a senior Islamic State figure, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. The commander, who is code-named Abu Zeyd, was captured in Turkey in an operation carried out by police and Turkey’s intelligence agency. In a report published in July, the U.N. Security Council identified Abu Zeyd as “one of the senior executives of the [Islamic State] terrorist organisation.” Al Jazeera reports.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will stand trial for contempt of court, the Islamabad High Court has ordered. Proceedings were opened against Khan after he called out a judge from the lower judiciary in a speech at a rally last month and said he would “take action” against her. A conviction would disqualify him from electoral politics for the next five years. Given that Khan turns 70 this year, that could spell the end of his ambitions to return to power. Khan also faces other cases, including a treason allegation, and an accusation that his party received illegal campaign financing. He denies any wrongdoing. Saeed Shah reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Indian and Chinese troops have begun disengaging from the disputed Gogra-Hotsprings border area in the western Himalayas, the Indian government said yesterday. The disengagement, which comes two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties, was announced ahead of a meeting in Uzbekistan next week which Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to attend. India said disengagement was taking place in a coordinated and planned way and is meant to keep border peace. Reuters reports.
At the U.N. Security Council yesterday, Russia and the U.S. clashed over the supply of foreign weapons and military equipment to Ukraine. Russia accused the U.S. and Europe of launching “the largest proxy war” against it through Ukraine, while U.S. officials shot back that Russia was the “sole aggressor” in a brutal and unnecessary war. During the meeting, Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N.’s top official for disarmament affairs, expressed concerns about the delivery of foreign weapons to Ukraine, noting that there were widespread and verified reports of heavy weaponry, including artillery rocket systems, going to local armed groups. “Large-scale influx of weapons to conflict-affected zones raises many concerns, including potential for diversion,” Nakamitsu said, adding that beyond the supply issue, the impact of weapons on Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure had been devastating. Farnaz Fassihi reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. Treasury Department yesterday announced sanctions against Iranian companies involved in the sale of drones to Russia. The sanctions form part of a continuing effort to pressure military supply chains and make it more difficult for Moscow to resupply its forces fighting in Ukraine. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed sanctions on four companies, including an Iranian air transport provider, and one company executive in connection with Tehran’s sale of Shahed drones. As a result of the action, any international foreign bank or financial institution that conducts a transaction involving one of the designated companies could be subject to sanctions. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
Ukraine claims it has regained significant territory on multiple fronts following an offensive launched this week in the Kharkiv region. “In total, more than a thousand square kilometers of the territory of Ukraine have been liberated since the beginning of September,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the nation in his nightly address yesterday. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed that tangible gains had been made by Ukraine in recent days. However, he also sought to temper expectations for what will probably continue to prove a bloody campaign. Marc Santora reports for the New York Times.
European Union countries announced fresh restrictions yesterday on Russian tourists coming to the bloc, with the Baltic states and Poland saying they will restrict entry for most Russian visa holders. In a joint statement, Poland and the three Baltic states said they had agreed a common regional approach “to address imminent public policy and security threats and restrict the entry into the Schengen area for the Russian citizens traveling for tourism, culture, sport and business purposes.” The Schengen-area is the EU’s border-free travel zone which includes most member states. The measure will come into effect on Sept. 19, the countries said. Laurence Norman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
The FBI and private investigators have seized about $30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean government-linked hackers from a video game company in March. It’s the latest example of a concerted effort from U.S. law enforcement to recover some of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Pyongyang’s hackers have allegedly plundered from cryptocurrency firms in recent months – money that U.S. officials worry is used to fund North Korean’s nuclear weapons programs. Sean Lyngaas reports for CNN.
The Justice Department has asked federal judge Aileen M. Cannon to revisit her decision to temporarily stop prosecutors from gaining access to classified documents seized from former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. In a pair of filings in federal court, lawyers for the department announced their intention to appeal key parts of Cannon’s ruling. They said they would ask an appeals court to block those sections of her order if she does not agree to do so herself by next Thursday. The department argued that determining the national security implications of Trump’s retention of the documents was so intertwined with its criminal investigation that carrying out a separate risk assessment was impossible under the conditions imposed by the court. Glenn Thrush, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage report for the New York Times.
2020 ELECTION PROBES
A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of a fund-raising operation created by Trump after his loss in the 2020 election. According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save American PAC, which was Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle as he promoted baseless assertions about election fraud. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Trump’s presidential campaign. The fact that federal prosecutors are now seeking information about the fund-raising operation is a significant new turn in an already sprawling criminal investigation into the roles that Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election. Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Kenneth P. Vogel report for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Steve Bannon, a former senior Trump adviser, has been indicted in New York on charges of money laundering and other crimes in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud donors to a border-wall nonprofit. Bannon, surrendered yesterday to law-enforcement officials at the Manhattan district attorney’s office in lower Manhattan around 9 a.m.(EST). Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said that Bannon had acted as the architect of a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the U.S.—and hundreds in New York. “We are here to say today in one voice that in Manhattan and New York, you will be held accountable for defrauding donors,” Bragg said at a news conference. Bannon, through one of his lawyers, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment. He was released after his appearance but a judge ordered him to surrender his passport. Corinne Ramey and James Fanelli report for the Wall Street Journal.
The Pentagon’s watchdog has told two Republican senators it’ll conduct a review regarding a whistleblower’s allegation that hundreds of Afghan evacuees were allowed to enter the U.S. despite being on a Defense Department watch list. According to a letter sent by acting inspector general Sean O’Donnell to Sens. Ron Johnson (WI), the top Republican on Senate Homeland Security’s subcommittee on investigations, and Josh Hawley (MO) the review will be conducted during the Fiscal Year 2023, which begins in October. O’Donnell said he also plans to evaluate the senators’ questions about the whistleblower’s allegations that officials on Biden’s National Security Council and at the Pentagon cut corners and “did not follow proper procedures when processing evacuees in Afghanistan and at staging bases [in Europe].” The nonpartisan watchdog’s evaluation could provide new ammunition for Republican lawmakers who have already signaled plans to hold hearings on the administration’s controversial Afghanistan exit if they win control of Congress in November. Alayna Treene reports for Axios.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) declared a public emergency yesterday over the influx of asylum seekers bused in from Texas and Arizona. This is a formality that allows her to release $10 million in city funds to aid the migrants after the Pentagon twice rejected Bowser’s request for help from National Guard troops. Bowser plans to create an Office of Migrant Services that will coordinate an array of services, including temporary shelter, meals and medical support. Antonia Olivo reports for the Washington Post.
Twitter agreed in June to pay roughly $7 million to whistleblower Peiter Zatko, according to people familiar with the matter. The settlement, which was related to lost pay, was completed days before Peiter Zatko filed his explosive whistleblower complaint which accused the company of failing to protect user data and lying about security problems. As part of the settlement, Zatko agreed to a nondisclosure agreement that forbids him from speaking publicly about his time at Twitter or disparaging the company, the people said. However, congressional hearings and governmental whistleblower complaints are two of the few venues in which he is permitted to speak openly, they said. Zatko is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to discuss his allegations of security failures at Twitter. Cara Lombardo reports for the Wall Street Journal.
COVID-19 has infected over 95.18 million people and has now killed over 1.05 million people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 607.553million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 6.51 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.