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IRAN: US Charges 3 In Plot To Kill Iranian-American Author In NYC

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. According to officials, the Justice Department has charged three men in an alleged plot to kill an Iranian American author and activist who has spoken out against human rights violations in Iran.

Rafat Amirov, 43, of Iran, Polad Omarov, 38, of the Czech Republic and Slovenia, and Khalid Mehdiyev, 24, of Yonkers, New York, were charged in an unsealed indictment in federal court in New York with money laundering and murder-for-hire. The three men were detained, and one was awaiting extradition to the United States.

Masih Alinejad, a New York-based Iranian opposition activist, journalist, and writer, confirmed that she was the intended target.

“I’m not scared,” Alinejad said after U.S. authorities announced the charges. “I want to tell you that the Iranian regime believes that by attempting to kill me, they will silence other women or me. But they only serve to strengthen me, to make me more powerful in my fight for democracy and to give a voice to the brave women who are fighting the Islamic Republic with guns and bullets in the streets.”

She claimed FBI agents read her the messages the plotters exchanged, including a final one that said, “It’s going to be done today.”

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Iran Media Did Not Acknowledge The Plot

Iran’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges. Late Friday, Iranian state media did not immediately acknowledge the alleged plot.

While the alleged plotlines in Iran, the indictment does not directly blame the country’s theocracy for the alleged murder-for-hire.

Nonetheless, the case “follows a disturbing pattern of Iranian government-sponsored efforts to kill, torture, and intimidate activists into silence for speaking out for the rights and freedoms of Iranians around the world,” according to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Mehdiyev was caught last year while driving around Masih’s Brooklyn neighborhood with a loaded “AK-47-style” rifle and a lot of bullets. At the time, Alinejad told The Associated Press that authorities had told her that the man was looking for her and that a home security video had captured him skulking outside her front door.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said when he announced the charges, “The Iranian government has previously gone after dissidents around the world, including the victim, who are against the regime’s violations of human rights.”

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Victim Had Kidnapping Plots Against Her

He claimed that “individuals in Iran” tasked the defendants with carrying out the assassination plot.

“The victim made public the Iranian government’s human rights violations, discrimination against women, suppression of democratic participation and expression, and use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and execution,” Garland said. “This activity posed such a threat to the Iranian government in 2019 that the chief judge of Iran’s Revolutionary courts warned that anyone who sent videos criticizing the regime to the victim would be sentenced to prison,” according to the report.

He claimed that in 2021, an Iranian intelligence official and three others were charged with plotting to kidnap the victim.

All three defendants are Azerbaijanis, a country with a border and cultural ties to Iran.

Amirov appeared in court for the first time in New York, and his attorney, Michael Martin, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. During the brief court appearance, the defense did not immediately request bail. Amirov used a Russian interpreter because he speaks it, although it is not his first language.

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Evolving Threat And Brazen Behavior

Mehdiyev’s attorney declined to comment on Friday. Omarov was arrested earlier this month in the Czech Republic. It was unclear whether he had an attorney speaking on his behalf.

“This case also highlights Iran’s evolving threat and increasingly brazen behavior,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. She also mentioned charges filed against members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate a former U.S. national security adviser and charges filed against Iranian hackers accused of targeting utility companies.

FBI Director Christopher Wray says that Iranian intelligence and security services have been using more “transnational repression tactics” in recent years to go after political opponents and critics. He said that tactics in Iran include surveillance, cyber operations, intimidation of family and friends, and kidnapping and assassination plots.

“The Iranian government’s efforts to silence its critics are not limited to Iranian borders,” Wray said.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are higher than usual, with the Biden administration’s efforts to resurrect a 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program failing and the U.S. condemning Iran’s targeting of protesters in Iran. Iran is also said to have given Russia drones that Russia has used to attack civilian targets in Ukraine.

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Calls For Congress To Do Something

Alinejad said that she hoped the ruthlessness of Iranians plotting to kill a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil would persuade President Joe Biden to act on calls from some in Congress and elsewhere to list Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

“They are challenging U.S. authorities to see what the consequences will be if no punishment is imposed, and there is no reason for them to stop killing innocent Americans or innocent Iranians,” she said.

Alinejad was a journalist in Iran for many years. Since he left the country after the disputed presidential election and crackdown in 2009, Iran’s theocracy has been after him.

She is a prominent figure on Farsi-language satellite channels abroad that criticize Iran, and she has worked as a contractor for the Voice of America’s Farsi-language network, which the United States funds, since 2015. She became a citizen of the United States in October 2019.

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Three Defendants Are Members Of An Eastern European Criminal Organization

Her “White Wednesday” and “My Stealthy Freedom” campaigns have seen women film themselves in public in Iran without head coverings or hijabs, which can result in arrests and fines. She has also made the voices of Iranian protesters louder since the death of Mahsa Amini in September. Amini died after being arrested by the morality police and was later found dead.

According to court documents, the three defendants are members of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran.

According to the indictment, Amirov, a group leader living in Iran, was “tasked” with targeting her by unnamed people. Garland declined to elaborate on where the orders came from. Amirov turned to Omarov, who lives in Eastern Europe, and together they brought Mehdiyev, who lives in New York, and paid him $30,000 in cash. US authorities say that Mehdiyev got the gun and started watching her house in July.

For more than a week, he took photos and videos and devised ways to entice her outside, according to the indictment. Mehdiyev described himself as being “at the crime scene” at one point.

Alinejad, on the other hand, left her house on July 28 after noticing something suspicious. When Mehdiyev attempted to leave, he was stopped by a New York police officer. The gun, ammunition magazines, cash, and a black ski mask were discovered by police. He was taken into custody on a federal firearms charge.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

 

 

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

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Biden | NBC Image

Washington — President Joe Biden is greeting Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House for a three-day state visit as the East African country prepares to send troops to Haiti as part of a United Nations-led effort to calm a deteriorating security situation in the Caribbean.

Some 1,000 Kenyan police personnel will soon arrive in Haiti as part of a multilateral security support operation aimed at reducing gang violence. Other countries anticipated to assist the Kenyan military include the Bahamas, Barbados, Benin, Chad, and Bangladesh.

For years, the United States has worked with Kenya on counterterrorism initiatives in Africa, notably the fight against the extremist group al-Shabab. Kenya has joined the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and an international maritime task force established by the Biden administration in December in response to Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

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Biden | AP News Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

A top Biden administration official praised Ruto’s decision to send police personnel to Haiti, calling it an “unprecedented undertaking” and demonstrating Kenya’s international leadership.

Kenya is the first African nation to have a state visit from the United States since 2008.

“This is a deep and broad partnership,” White House principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer said last week. He said it begins with combatting terrorism in Kenya’s region of Africa and progresses to “becoming a net security provider in our own hemisphere” with the upcoming deployment to Haiti.

The state visit begins with the two leaders meeting with CEOs at the White House in the afternoon. The goal is to increase relations between the American and Kenyan IT industries. The White House predicts that Teneo, Alphabet, and Semiconductor Technologies Limited executives will attend.

On Thursday, Biden and Ruto will hold formal talks and a joint press conference before attending a state dinner. Ruto is also scheduled to attend a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event with Vice President Kamala Harris this Friday.

Ruto began his journey to the United States in Atlanta, where he visited The King Center, met NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal, and dropped by Tyler Perry Studios.

The United States and Kenya are commemorating their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. According to White House officials, the leaders’ agenda will include trade and investment, technological innovation, climate and sustainable energy, as well as health and security.

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell stated that the two countries would make “substantial commitments” to strengthen Kenya’s technical industry. Kenya hosts Google and Microsoft headquarters and established itself as East Africa’s technology hub, the Silicon Savannah.

In December 2022, Biden gathered dozens of African leaders in Washington to make the case that the United States was “all in” on Africa’s future, promising billions of dollars in government and private investment in health, infrastructure, business, and technology. The Democrat also promised to visit Sub-Saharan Africa in 2023.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

But other issues got in the way last year, notably the Israel-Hamas conflict and Biden’s lengthy battle with Republicans to renew financing for Ukraine’s war with Russia. Biden’s projected journey to Africa never occurred.

All the while, Russia has attempted to strengthen its economic and military influence in Africa. The junta in the West African nation recently ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Niger, which should be complete by mid-September. Meanwhile, Russia sent military trainers to Niger.

In addition, the United States needs to catch up to rival China in terms of investment in Africa, which has emerged as a vital battleground in the rivalry between great powers.

Biden and his advisers foresee fierce economic competition with Beijing in Africa but have attempted to argue that Washington is a far more stable partner in the long run

To that purpose, Biden took steps early in his presidency to prioritize Africa over his predecessors, including hosting over 50 leaders for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Conference in December 2022. However, analysts think the administration’s involvement has waned since the summit.

Cameron Hudson, a senior scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Program, highlighted that Biden has only hosted one African leader, Angola President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, for meetings at the White House since the conference.

“This visit today feels a bit like a fig leaf, not just for the Kenyans but for Africa in general, and a kind of a placeholder for the administration to say: All of those things that we said early on in the administration, they all remain true,” Hudson stated.

According to Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at the United States International University in Africa, Ruto hopes to use the visit to boost his international reputation. He feels that deploying Kenyan police to Haiti will help him achieve that aim.

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Biden | AP news Image

Biden Is Honoring Kenya With State Visit As The East African Nation Prepares To Send Police To Haiti

“Ruto wishes to be known as the African leader, particularly in the West. “And this kind of recognition fuels that desire,” Munene explained.

Ruto has stated that Kenya’s mission to Haiti aims to “formulate actionable strategies that will lead to long-term solutions” in the poorest Western Hemisphere country. For decades, Haiti has suffered from poverty, political instability, and natural calamities. The United States has agreed to offer direct financial assistance to the United Nations-backed mission and training, logistics, and material support.

However, Ruto’s decision to involve Kenyan police in a crisis hundreds of miles abroad has sparked criticism in Nairobi, including legal challenges to prevent police troops from being deployed.

International intervention in Haiti has a complex history. A sexual abuse scandal and the arrival of cholera, which claimed over 10,000 lives, hindered a U.N.-approved stabilization operation in Haiti that started in June 2004. The mission concluded in October 2017.

SOURCE – (AP)

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2024: Spain, Ireland And Norway Say They Will Recognize A Palestinian State. Why Does That Matter?

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Palestinian | AP News Image

Some 140 of the about 190 countries represented in the U.N. have already recognized a Palestinian state.

Here’s a look at how and why the new European announcements could be important:

A U.N. partition plan in 1947 called for the creation of a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state, but Palestinians and the wider Arab world rejected it because it would have given them less than half of the land even though Palestinians made up two-thirds of the population.

The Arab-Israeli war the following year left Israel with even more territory, Jordan in control of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and Egypt in control of Gaza.

In the 1967 war, Israel seized all three territories, and decades of on-again, off-again peace talks have failed.

The United States, Britain and other Western countries have backed the idea of an independent Palestinian state existing alongside Israel as a solution to the Middle East’s most intractable conflict, but they insist statehood should come as part of a negotiated settlement. There have been no substantive negotiations since 2009.

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Palestinian | AP news Image

Spain, Ireland And Norway Say They Will Recognize A Palestinian State. Why Does That Matter?

Though the EU countries and Norway won’t be recognizing an existing state, just the possibility of one, the symbolism helps enhance the Palestinians’ international standing and heaps more pressure on Israel to open negotiations on ending the war.

Also, the move lends additional prominence to the Middle East issue ahead of the June 6-9 elections to the European Parliament.

Diplomatic pressure on Israel has grown as the battle with Hamas stretches into its eighth month. The U.N. General Assembly voted by a significant margin on May 11 to grant new “rights and privileges” to Palestine in a sign of growing international support for a vote on full voting membership. The Palestinian Authority currently has observer status.

The leaders of Spain, Ireland, Malta and Slovenia said in March they were considering recognizing a Palestinian state as “a positive contribution” toward ending the war.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Wednesday, “This recognition is not against anyone, it is not against the Israeli people,” he said. “It is an act in favor of peace, justice and moral consistency.”

Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told The Associated Press that while the country has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state for decades, recognition is “a card that you can play once.”

“We used to think that recognition would come at the end of a process,” he said. “Now we have realized that recognition should come as an impetus, as a strengthening of a process.”

While dozens of countries have recognized a Palestinian state, none of the major Western powers has done so, and it is still being determined how much of a difference the move by the three countries might make.

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Palestinian | AP News Image

Spain, Ireland And Norway Say They Will Recognize A Palestinian State. Why Does That Matter?

Even so, their recognition would mark a significant accomplishment for the Palestinians, who believe it confers international legitimacy on their struggle. Norway said it would upgrade its representative’s office for Palestine to an embassy, but it was unclear what Ireland and Spain would do.

Little would likely change on the ground in the short term. Peace talks are stalled, and Israel’s hardline government has dug its heels in against Palestinian statehood.

Israel reacted rapidly Wednesday by recalling its ambassadors to Ireland, Norway and Spain.

The Israeli government slams talk of independence as a “reward” for the Hamas Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the abduction of over 250 others. It rejects any move to legitimize the Palestinians internationally.

Steps like the ones by the three European countries Wednesday will harden the Palestinian position and undermine the negotiating process, Israel says, insisting that all issues should be solved through negotiations.

Israel often responds to foreign countries’ decisions deemed as going against its interests by summoning those countries’ ambassadors and also punishing the Palestinians through measures such as freezing tax transfers to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

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Palestinian | AP News Image

Spain, Ireland And Norway Say They Will Recognize A Palestinian State. Why Does That Matter?

Some 140 countries have already recognized a Palestinian, more than two-thirds of the United Nations’ membership.

Some major powers have indicated their stance may be evolving amid the outcry over the consequences of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between noncombatants and fighters in its count.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said no recognition of a Palestinian state could come while Hamas remains in Gaza but that it could happen while Israeli negotiations with Palestinian leaders were in progress.

France indicated that it isn’t ready to join other countries in recognizing a Palestinian state, even if it isn’t opposed to the idea in principle. French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, in comments relayed by his ministry after a closed-door meeting with his Israeli counterpart on Wednesday, said that recognizing a Palestinian state must be “useful” in pushing forward a two-state solution and suggested that doing so now won’t have a genuine impact in pursuing that goal.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Singapore Airlines Passenger Killed During Severe Turbulence

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Singapore Airlines Flight Suffers Severe Turbulence That Kills 1 Passenger
The 73-year-old British passenger died from a heart attack: Reuters Image

London-Singapore Airlines crashed into an air pocket during breakfast, according to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport general manager Kittipong Kittikachorn. The pilot requested an emergency landing.

The aircraft reported sudden turbulence above Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Basin eleven hours into the flight. Without further details, the statement said the pilot reported a medical issue and rerouted the jet to Bangkok.

Reuters could not determine whether the medical issue preceded the turbulence.

Massive gashes in the overhead cabin panels, gas masks and ceiling panels, and scattered hand luggage were seen inside the airplane. Multiple heads punctured the panels above the lights, according to a passenger.

“I saw things lying everywhere and many air crew members injured” after the most severely injured passengers and crew were evacuated.

Kittikachorn believes the 73-year-old British man who died suffered a heart attack. Seven people were seriously injured, including brain trauma. He stated everyone seemed calm when they were led off the plane.

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Passengers were having breakfast when the turbulence struck: Reuters Image

Singapore Airlines condolences to the family

The Singapore Airlines apologized for the disturbing experience passengers and crew experienced on this journey.

Injury rates varied among the 211 passengers and 18 crew members. The airline reported 12 hospitalized and 18 admitted passengers. At Samitivej Hospital, 71 patients were being treated.

First, publicly available tracking data could not reconstruct the incident. However, FlightRadar 24 said it was studying data from 07:49 GMT that showed the plane leaning upwards and returning to its cruise altitude in less than a minute.

Reuters claimed that a Boeing 777-300ER passenger described feeling like you were rising and then plummeting.

As reported by Reuters, 28-year-old student Dzafran Azmir said, “Suddenly the aircraft starts tilting up and there is shaking, so I braced for what is about to happen, but suddenly there is a dramatic drop, causing everyone sitting without a seatbelt to be launched into the ceiling..”

According to him, some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented them. They also hit the areas where the lighting and masks are and used their heads to break straight through them.

The majority of passengers Kittikachorn spoke with said all the Singapore Air passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

According to a report posted by FlightRadar 24 about the altitude drop, “our initial thinking is that the turbulence event occurred before the standard descent from 37,000 to 31,000 feet.” They’re probably altering the flying levels before landing.”

It has been reported by the Suvarnabhumi airport that the plane requested an emergency landing at 3:35 p.m. Bangkok time (8:35 GMT) at the time of the incident. In the meantime, uninjured passengers were able to board a different flight at 3:51 pm.

An investigation will be conducted in Bangkok by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB).

Aftermath of Singapore Airlines turbulence

Aftermath of Singapore Airlines turbulence: Reuters Image

Flight Air Turbulence

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board found that turbulent circumstances cause the most airline crashes in 2021.

Turbulence caused over 33% of airline accidents between 2009 and 2018, with most resulting in serious casualties but little aircraft damage, according to the U.S. government. NTSB representatives will assist Singapore Airlines incident investigation, the statement said.

Singapore Airlines, a premium airline that sets the benchmark for the industry, has had few major issues in recent years.

The final fatal accident occurred on October 31, 2000, when it crashed into construction equipment at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after taking off from the wrong runway from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei. The crash killed 83 of 179 people.

The Aviation Safety Network lists seven Singapore Airlines accidents.

Boeing said it was in touch with Singapore Airlines and ready to help. Additional queries were sent to the airline and area police.

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