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BrkNEWS: America under threat of terrorism by mail; suspect quizzed

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The discovery of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, CNN and a liberal billionaire has put the United States on edge and sent law enforcement officials scrambling to prevent any more packages from reaching their targets.

The hunt for a serial mail bomber began late Tuesday night when Secret Service personnel conducting standard mail screenings found a pipe bomb inside a plain manila envelope with a bubble-wrapped interior addressed to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

A similarly packaged bomb was found hours later in mail addressed to former president Barack Obama.

Neither bomb got close to its intended target, and neither contained a written message, according to law enforcement officials.

At least seven suspicious packages were sent in New York, Washington and Florida, including to prominent African American Democrats, Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder and Maxine Waters, a California lawmaker.

Waters was sent three packages, according to the FBI.

The envelopes were marked with computer-printed address labels. Each listed Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, as the sender.

Those targeted were a virtual litany of US President Donald Trump’s favourite subjects of criticism in tweets and at campaign rallies, from his “lock her up” slogan for Clinton to his denunciation of CNN as “fake news”.

From the White House, Trump initially appealed for unity, saying “acts of political violence” have “no place in the United States”.

“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective,” he later told a campaign rally in Wisconsin, before switching his criticism back to the media.

The attacks began on Monday when police “proactively detonated” a pipe bomb found at a residence in New York’s suburbs owned by billionaire philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros, who’s often portrayed by conservatives as a secretive bankroller of liberal causes.

Officials described the devices as attempted acts of terrorism and cautioned that the number of bombs – and intended victims – could grow.

“This investigation is of the highest priority for the FBI,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

One such package used an incorrect address for Holder, and it was “returned” to Wasserman Schultz’s office in Sunrise, Florida, where it was intercepted, according to officials.

Photos by AP

Authorities do not believe she had anything to do with the packages and think she was a potential victim.

The bomb addressed to former CIA director John Brennan was found in the mail at CNN’s office in New York.

Since leaving the government, Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Trump; he is an on-air analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, rather than CNN.

The Secret Service intercepted the package addressed to Clinton at the home she shares with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, north of Manhattan on Tuesday, and a second package addressed to Obama’s Washington home on Wednesday.

Law enforcement officials described the devices as PVC pipes stuffed with explosive material and shards of glass.

They were wrapped in electrical wire and tape, but they provided no detail on how they would have been detonated.

Malcolm Brady, a former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official who spent decades investigating bomb suspects, said federal agents were carefully poring over the packages for any clues they may hold as to the identity or location of the sender.

“You have to be extremely careful when you examine this stuff, because a piece of tape could have a fingerprint on it,” Brady said.

Most mail-bombing suspects are “loner types”, said Brady, who added he doubts this bomber made a mistake when he used a bad address for Holder.

“That looks like an intentional manipulation of the system, to try to get it to go to the congresswoman (Wasserman Schultz). I strongly suspect he wanted that package to go to her. That suggests he’s really focused on her.”

The US Postal Service operates a sophisticated imaging system that photographs the outside each piece of mail processed across the country and can be used to determine the specific location of where it was sent.

That’s how federal officials were led to a woman who sent the poison ricin through the mail to Obama and then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013.

The envelopes and packaging materials themselves will also be closely scrutinised.

“It will be a treasure trove of forensic evidence,” said Anthony Roman, a private security and investigations consultant.

“As human beings, we are filtering off our DNA everywhere we walk, everywhere we sit.”

Even the most careful bomber is likely to leave behind genetic material that could be used to identify them, especially traces of sweat, saliva or skin cells. There may also be fingerprints or hair.

But it may not be that simple to catch the culprit.

There have been times, such as with the recent spate of bombings in Austin, Texas, as well as with the notorious Unabomber, when each device had a different “signature” in an attempt to throw off authorities or as the person making the devices tested and finessed their technique.

The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, Reuters

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Buhari to debate Atiku, Moghalu on January 19; rising Sowore not listed

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@Chido247

As the countdown to the February 2019 presidential elections in Africa’s most populated country continues, Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) have announced the “names of political parties” that they have pre-qualified to participate in the 2019 vice presidential and presidential debates.

The Executive Secretary of the NEDG, Eddie Emesiri, listed the parties as the following: Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP).

The Presidential debate will hold on Saturday, January 19, 2019 while the VP debate will be in Abuja on Friday, December 14, 2018.

President Buhari, a retired army general who does not warm up to contrary even if helpful views, USAfrica notes, will have the opportunity of counterpoint exchanges with his 2015 former ally Atiku Abubakar, and especially from the  former deputy Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank Prof. Kingsley Moghalu. 

Significantly, the debate excludes Omoyele Sowore, the activist-journalist and young candidate who is among the top canvassers and most travelled candidates (inside and outside Nigeria) in search of votes. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica [Houston] and USAfricaonline.com

https://usafricaonline.com/2018/05/19/usafrica-why-saharareporters-sowores-disrupt-the-nigerian-system-message-is-gaining-momentum-by-chido-nwangwu/

 

 

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AFRICA

Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria, Somalia and Egypt among the worst hit.

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The Global Terrorism Index for 2018 has been released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which recorded 3 African countries of Nigeria, Somalia  and Egypt among the worst hit. Iraq’s almost daily blasts placed it at the top, followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan. 

The GTI found that “the global impact from terrorism is on the decline, it also shows that terrorism is still widespread, and even getting worse in some regions.”

The United States is at number 20. 

The Index ranked 138 countries based on the severity of terror attacks throughout 2017, and found that “The total number of deaths fell by 27 percent between 2016 and 2017, with the largest falls occurring in Iraq and Syria. The overall trend of a decline in the number of deaths caused by acts of terror reflects the increased emphasis placed on countering terrorism around the world since the surge in violence in 2013.”

“In the Maghreb and Sahel regions of Northern Africa, there has been a resurgence of terrorist activity in the past two years, most notably of al-Qa’ida. As of March 2018 there were more than 9,000 members of terrorist groups active in the region, mostly concentrated in Libya and Algeria,” it noted.

The GTI assessed the total global economic impact of terrorism at almost $52 billion.

USAfricaonline.com notes that the attacks by Nigeria’s Boko Haram and its affiliates mainly in the north east and exponential rise in the violence unleashed by the Fulani herdsmen negatively affected the country. By Chido Nwangwu @Chido247

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AFRICA

U.S calls on Nigeria to investigate killings of Shiite muslims by soldiers

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The United States embassy in Nigeria said on Thursday it was “concerned” and called for an investigation after supporters of an imprisoned Shiite cleric were killed in clashes with security forces.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said 49 of its members were killed this week after the army and police fired live bullets at crowds who marched near and in the capital Abuja, calling into doubt the military’s official death toll of six.

“The United States embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja,” said the US embassy in a statement.

“We urge government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides,” it added.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday it had “strong evidence” that police and soldiers used automatic weapons against IMN members and killed about 45 people.

“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members,” said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is almost evenly split between a mostly Muslim north – which is predominantly Sunni – and a largely Christian south.

Experts have warned the government that a heavy-handed response to the group risks sparking conflict in a volatile region where poverty is widespread.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in custody since 2015, when an army crackdown killed 300 of his supporters, who were buried in mass graves, according to human rights groups.

Zakzaky is facing a culpable homicide charge in connection with the 2015 violence, and is in jail despite a court order granting him bail. ref: AFP

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