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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
The self-styled Islamic State militant group nearly doubled its territory in Mali in less than a year, U.N. experts said in a new report. Meanwhile, Malian armed groups’ inability to implement agreements made in 2015 to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate combatants into society is empowering an al-Qaida-linked militant group. Mali’s junta ordered a U.N. peacekeeping force to leave in June after a decade of working to tackle a jihadi insurgency. The U.N. experts said Mali’s military rulers are watching the confrontation between the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates, hoping it will strengthen the Malian authorities. However, experts warn a lack of action enables the Jihadists to deepen their ties in the communities they control. Edith M. Lederer reports for AP News.
Denmark will criminalize the public mistreatment of religious objects following a spate of Quran burnings in Denmark and Sweden, the government said on Friday. A fine or sentence of up to two years in prison could be imposed, according to a draft of a bill published by the Danish Justice Ministry. Aaron Boxerman reports for the New York Times.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – PRIGOZHIN PLANE CRASH
Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the paramilitary organization Wagner group, has been confirmed dead after DNA analysis following Wednesday’s plane crash, the Investigative Committee said. A criminal investigation remains ongoing. BBC News reports.
Before he died in Wednesday’s plane crash, Yevgeny Prigozhin traveled to the capital of the Central African Republic to reassure the government that he would bring new fighters and investments to the region. Yet Prigozhin’s efforts to strengthen the paramilitary organization Wagner group in Africa came into tension with the Russian defense ministry, which was in Libya declaring its intention to take control of Prigozhin’s sprawling corporate network. Prigozhin’s death now leaves the future of his corporate network in Africa uncertain. Benoit Faucon, Drew Hinshaw, Joe Parkinson, and Nicholas Bariyo report for the Wall Street Journal.
While the future of the paramilitary organization Wagner group is uncertain, some of its fighters are already joining volunteer formations and official units under the Russian armed forces. Aleksandr Borodai, a member of the Russian Parliament, has said, “Wagner, in itself, as a structure, most likely won’t exist.” Natasha Frost reports for the New York Times.
The Kremlin issued an executive order that could require paramilitary organization Wagner group members to make an oath to Russia. “The oath to the State Flag of the Russian Federation shall be administered to people joining volunteer units and other persons contributing to fulfilling the objectives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” according to a post on the website for the President of Russia on Friday.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Ukrainian troops today liberated the southeastern settlement of Robotyne and were trying to push further south, the Ukrainian military said. The advance comes after Ukrainian forces said they broke through the most challenging line of Russian defenses. They expect to progress more quickly now. Reuters reports.
At least two people were killed and five injured in a Russian missile strike on Ukraine’s central Poltava region, a senior Ukrainian official said today. Meanwhile, Russian air defenses destroyed two drones over the western Bryansk region, Moscow’s defense ministry said today. Maria Kostenko and Josh Pennington report for CNN.
Konstantin Malofeyev, a Russian oligarch under financial sanctions for nearly a decade, has been able to use Western banks to raise money for orphanages in an area where the Kremlin is deporting Ukrainian children to Russia. According to a database created by a team of independent Russian analysts, one of Malofeyev’s orphanages has a “high probability” of housing Ukrainian children. Prosecutors at The Hague have labeled these resettlement efforts a war crime. Malofeyev says the reports of resettlement schemes are “fake.” Monika Pronczuk and Valerie Hopkins report for the New York Times.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) is directing Russian civilians to build relationships with influential Western individuals and then disseminate pro-Kremlin narratives to influence Western public policy and opinion, according to newly declassified U.S. intelligence. Because these influence operations are designed to be “deliberately small scale,” they obscure the FSB’s role through layers of ostensibly independent actors. Those who repeat pro-Kremlin narratives do so unwittingly. One official said, “They remain unaware who is essentially seeding these narratives.” Katie Bo Lillis reports for CNN.
Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of Ukraine’s eastern forces, has called for reinforcements along the eastern front where Russian forces threaten to make additional gains, even though the United States advises focusing on the south. While the United States has called for massing troops for an overwhelming push to the south, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “We will not give up Kharkiv, Donbas, Pavlohrad or Dnipro. And that’s that.” Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports for the New York Times.
The United States has known that Saudi Arabia was killing migrants trying to enter the kingdom from Yemen since the fall of 2022, yet did not publicly criticize the Saudis’ conduct. Since a report of the killings was published last week, State Department officials said that U.S. diplomats had raised the issue with their Saudi counterparts and asked them to investigate. The Human Rights Watch report noted that if killing migrants were official Saudi policy, it could be a crime against humanity. Ben Hubbard and Edward Wong report for the New York Times.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo arrived in Beijing yesterday to meet her Chinese counterpart, Wang Wentao. Raimondo today said it was “profoundly important” that the U.S.-China economic relationship be rooted in “direct, open and practical” communication. Raimonda seeks to stabilize business relations without easing restrictions on China developing advanced technologies like semiconductors and artificial intelligence. Meaghan Tobin reports for the Washington Post.
U.S. judge Cindy Jorgenson last week canceled a hearing set for today regarding a $10 billion lawsuit filed by Mexico aiming to hold U.S. gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating arms trafficking to drug cartels. Jorgenson “issued an order canceling the hearing in which she only stated that she is considering excusing herself from hearing the present litigation,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said. Reuters reports.
The United States has condemned Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, for claiming his rights in the occupied West Bank are more important than those of Palestinians. The State Department described the comments as “inflammatory” and criticized “all racist rhetoric.” Ben Gvir has said the “radical left” misquoted him. Tom Bateman reports for BBC News.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump is already at odds with some of his 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, as some look for different court dates and locations. Five defendants want to move the Georgia case to federal court. Mark Meadows is set to make the argument today. Kenneth Chesebro’s request for a speedy trial has been granted, and the date has been set for Oct. 23. Trump does not want an early trial and informed the court that he intends to separate his case from the rest of the defendants. Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim report for the New York Times.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The U.S. Air Force is incorporating artificial intelligence into its experimental aircraft. The artificial intelligence system would identify, evaluate, and engage enemy threats after getting human sign-off. While these technologies could lead to smart and relatively cheap weapons, they raise significant concerns about the need for human decision-making in war. Eric Lipton reports for the New York Times.
U.S.-based artificial intelligence companies use over 2 million people in the Philippines to perform often underpaid work editing text or labeling images to improve artificial intelligence models. Some workers are paid meager rates and often face delayed or withheld payments. Scale AI is only one U.S. company that does not abide by basic labor standards for workers abroad. Rebecca Tan and Regine Cabato report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Three U.S. Marines have died, and five were injured following an aircraft crash during a “routine training exercise” in Australia yesterday, officials said. The cause of the crash was under investigation. Sarah Fortinsky reports for The Hill.
Ryan Christopher Palmeter, who shot dead three people in Jacksonville, Florida, was motivated by racial hatred. Palmeter died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the scene. Palmeter wrote several manifestos outlining his hatred of black people, police said. Palmeter had been briefly detained in 2017 under the Baker Act, which allows the involuntary detainment of an individual for treatment. Palmeter acquired his weapons legally. Antoinette Radford reports for BBC News.
Muhammad Masood, a Pakistani doctor who worked at a research clinic in Rochester, was sentenced on Friday to 18 years in prison after telling government informants that he wanted to “fight on the frontline” for the self-styled Islamic State militant group. Masood pleaded guilty last year to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. According to prosecutors, he expressed a desire to conduct “lone wolf attacks” in the United States. Orlando Mayorquin reports for the New York Times.
Ramzi bin al-Shibh, accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, is incompetent to either face trial or plead guilty because of his mental illness, a military medical board has concluded. Bin al-Shibh faces the death penalty. Judge Col. Matthew N. McCall will now decide whether to remove bin al-Shibh from the case or to postpone proceedings pending treatment. Carol Rosenberg reports for the New York Times.
The Justice Department is nearing a final decision on whether to bring charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) following a public corruption probe. Corinne Ramey and Aruna Viswanatha report for the Wall Street Journal.