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The UAE has denied it was behind the alleged hacking of Qatar’s state news agency in May.

The Washington Post cited US intelligence officials as saying the UAE had orchestrated the posting of incendiary quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir that he insisted were fabricated.

The incident helped spark a diplomatic rift between Qatar and its neighbors.

Qatar said the report “unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place”.

Qatar Crisis: Saudi-Led Bloc Warns of Unspecified New Measures

Swiss news network The Local said a fake news story quoting FIFA president Gianni Infantino had been posted on a copycat website on July 15.

The Washington Post‘s story cited unnamed US intelligence officials as saying newly-analyzed information confirmed that on May 23 senior members of the UAE government had discussed a plan to hack Qatari state media sites.

Image source Al Jazeera

Later that day, the official Qatar News Agency quoted Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as criticising US “hostility” towards Iran, describing it as an “Islamic power that cannot be ignored”, and calling Hamas the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

Qatari officials said the agency had been hacked by an “unknown entity” and that the story had “no basis whatsoever”. However, the remarks were reported across the region and caused a stir.

Qatar Rejects List of Conditions for Lifting Sanctions

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt responded by blocking Qatari media.

Two weeks later, the four countries cut all links with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and relations with Iran. The boycott has caused turmoil in the oil- and gas-rich emirate, which is dependent on imports by land and sea for the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million.

The US intelligence officials told the Washington Post it was unclear whether the United Arab Emirates authorities had hacked the Qatar News Agency itself or paid a third party to do it.

Donald Trump Claims Credit for Qatar Isolation

The Qatari government communication office said in a statement: “The information published in the Washington Post… revealed the involvement of the United Arab Emirates and senior Emirati officials in the hacking of Qatar News Agency.”

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the FBI had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible.

US intelligence agencies declined to comment on the Washington Post‘s article, but the UAE’s ambassador insisted that it “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking”.

“What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors,” Yousef al-Otaiba wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Qatar has acknowledged providing assistance to Islamist groups designated as terrorist organizations by some of its neighbors, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. However, it has denied aiding jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS.

Four Gulf countries are to discuss the Qatar crisis, a month after they severed ties with the state.

The meeting of foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Cairo comes on the day a deadline expires for Qatar to accept a list of demands or face further sanctions.

The demands to Qatar including shutting down the Al Jazeera network and scaling down ties with Iran.

Qatar has called the list of demands “unrealistic and not actionable”.

Qatar Crisis: Gulf Countries Extend Demands List Deadline by 48 Hours

The country is accused of destabilizing the region by supporting extremism and terrorism – which it denies.

Image source Wikimedia

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain.

The restrictions have caused turmoil in the oil- and gas-rich nation, which is dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million.

Qatar Rejects List of Conditions for Lifting Sanctions

On July 3, Saudi Arabia and its allies gave Qatar an extra two days to accept their ultimatum for restoring relations, after an earlier 10-day deadline expired.

The authorities in Doha have responded to the demands – but no details have been publicly released. Qatar has said the demands break international law.

On July 4, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani described the demands as unrealistic.

“It’s not about terrorism, it’s talking about shutting down the freedom of speech,” he said.

The four Gulf countries accuse Qatar of harboring Islamist groups that they consider terrorist organizations – including the Muslim Brotherhood – and giving them a platform on the Al Jazeera channel, which is funded by the Qatari state.

Qatar denies the accusations.

As a result of the sanctions, Iran and Turkey have been increasingly supplying Qatar with food and other goods.

On July 4, Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production capacity over the coming years.

Qatar is the world’s leading producer of LNG.

Qatar has rejected a list of 13 conditions set by four Arab states for lifting sanctions with its foreign minister saying it is neither reasonable nor actionable.

The Arab country is under strict sanctions from Saudi Arabia and its allies, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain. They accuse Qatar of backing terrorism.

Among other things, the four countries have demanded the closure of Al Jazeera TV, which is funded by the Qatari government.

Al Jazeera accused them of trying to “silence freedom of expression”.

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions for more than two weeks, with Iran and Turkey increasingly supplying it with food and other goods.

It denies accusations that it is funding terrorism and fostering regional instability.

The four countries also want Qatar to reduce its ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base, setting a deadline on June 23 of 10 days.

The government is reviewing the demands, a spokesman has said.

Image source Flickr

On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked the four countries to make their demands “reasonable and actionable“.

However, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, quoted by Al-Jazeera, said: “The US secretary of state recently called upon the blockading nations to produce a list of grievances that was <<reasonable and actionable>>.

“The British foreign secretary asked that the demands be <<measured and realistic>>. This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the demands were proof that the sanctions had “nothing to do with combating terrorism… [but] limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy”.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said: “We assert our right to practice our journalism professionally without bowing to pressure from any government or authority.”

Qatar’s main import routes – by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from container ships docked in the UAE – have been disrupted and much of the surrounding airspace has been closed to its air traffic.

However, Qatar has so far avoided economic collapse by finding alternative routes.

Qatari citizens living in neighboring countries or with family living there have been hit harder, Reuters notes, because of ultimatums issued for them to leave.

Correspondents say there has been frustration in Washington over the time taken by the Saudis and others to formalize their demands.

President Donald Trump has taken a hard line towards Qatar, accusing it of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism.

However, the Arab states involved in the crisis are all close allies of the US while the largest American base in the Middle East is in Qatar.

Senior al-Qaeda leader Farouq al-Qahtani has been killed in a US drone strike in north eastern Afghanistan last month, the Pentagon confirms.

Farouq al-Qahtani, al-Qaeda’s leader in the area, was killed two weeks ago in what the Pentagon described as a precision strike.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

The Saudi-born was placed on a US list of most wanted terrorists in February.

Farouq al-Qahtani was said to be one of al-Qaeda’s senior plotters against the US.

A Qatari national, Farouq al-Qahtani was also accused of involvement in plots targeting Europe.

Afghan government spokesman Abdul Ghani Mosamem said that 15 insurgents were killed in the operation on October 23 in the province of Kunar.

Those killed included two Arabs and a number of Pakistani Taliban fighters.

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The will of Osama Bin Laden has revealed he left a personal fortune of around $29 million after his death in a raid in 2011.

It is among a trove of documents released to US media on March 1.

The will was seized in the US assault in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

Osama Bin Laden urged his family to “obey my will” and to spend his inheritance on “jihad, for the sake of Allah”.

In another letter, Osama Bin Laden urged his father to take care of his wife and children in the event of his death.

That message made it clear that the risk of being killed was present in his mind.Osama Bin Laden letters released

“If I am to be killed, pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home,” he wrote.

Although Osama Bin Laden referred to the money as being in Sudan, it is not clear whether it was in the form of cash or assets, or whether any of it made its way to his heirs.

Osama Bin Laden lived in Sudan for five years in the 1990s as a guest of the Sudanese government.

In other letters, he gave his assessment of the progress of the West’s “war on terror” and the US military campaign in Afghanistan.

“They thought that the war would be easy and that they would accomplish their objectives in a few days or a few weeks,” Osama Bin Laden wrote.

“We need to be patient a bit longer. With patience, there is victory!”

Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces in May 2011 in a raid on his compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda has since been led by the former second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

At least three people have been killed after gunmen launched an attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in the centre of Mali’s capital, Bamako.

Two gunmen have locked in 140 guests and 30 employees in “a hostage-taking situation”, the hotel’s US owners said.

The attackers entered the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is popular with expat workers, shooting and shouting “God is great!” in Arabic.

A Malian army commander told the AP news agency that about 20 hostages had been freed.

Hostages able to recite verses of the Koran were being released, a security source has told Reuters news agency.

Six staff from Turkish Airlines are staying at the hotel, and a Chinese guest told China’s state news agency Xinhua that he was among about seven Chinese tourists trapped there.Mali Radisson Blu attack

French newspaper Le Monde quoted the Malian security ministry as saying at least three hostages had been killed, AFP news agency reports.

In August, suspected Islamist gunmen killed 13 people, including five UN workers, during a hostage siege at a hotel in the central Malian town of Sevare.

France, the former colonial power in Mali, intervened in the country in January 2013 when al-Qaeda-linked militants threatened to march on Bamako after taking control of the north of the country.

“It’s all happening on the seventh floor, jihadists are firing in the corridor,” a security source told AFP.

Malian soldiers, police and Special Forces are on the scene along with some UN peacekeeping troops and French soldiers, the agency reports.

The US embassy in Bamako tweeted that all American citizens were asked “to shelter in place” and were “encouraged to contact their families”.

Some reports say about ten gunmen in total are involved in the attack.

The Rezidor Hotel Group, which owns the Radisson Blu, said it was in constant contact “with the local authorities in order offer any support possible to re-instate safety and security at the hotel”.

The UN force in Mali took over responsibility for security in the country from French and African troops in July 2013, after the main towns in the north had been recaptured from the Islamist militants.

At least 15 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack claimed by al-Shabab on a hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, officials say.

A car bomb exploded at the main gate of the Sahafi Hotel early on November 1, with attackers then storming the hotel as they exchanged gunfire with security guards, police say.

A suicide bomber detonated a second set of explosives inside the hotel.

African Union troops and government forces say they have regained control of the hotel after a fierce gun battle.

The Sahafi Hotel is popular with Somalia’s members of parliament.

A website associated with al-Shabab claimed responsibility, saying that fighters from the al-Qaeda linked group had infiltrated the hotel after an explosion.Mogadishu Sahafi Hotel attack

Those killed in the attack included parliamentarian Mohamed Abdi Abtidoon and a freelance photographer.

Several prominent people were among the injured, including a journalist and a local businessman.

Medical sources confirmed that a top Somali military commander, General Gacma Duule, and Somalia’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Abdisalam Haji Adam, were also injured.

The attack comes a day after deadly clashes between jihadist fighters and African Union (AU) troops in the Bakool region near the border with Ethiopia.

The AU is helping the government battle al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.

Security in Somalia has improved, but al-Shabab still attacks Mogadishu regularly.

The militants have also targeted neighboring countries, killing almost 150 people in an assault on Garissa University College in Kenya in April.

Top al-Qaeda commander Nasser al-Wuhayshi has been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen, the AQAP group confirmed.

Nasser al-Wuhayshi’s death was announced by the AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) in an online video, in which it said two other fighters had also died.

Nasser al-Wuhayshi was seen as al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and was a former private secretary to Osama bin Laden.

His successor was named in the video as military chief Qasim al-Raymi.Top al-Qaeda commander Nasser al-Wuhayshi killed in a US drone strike in Yemen

The Yemeni news group al-Masdar Online has previously reported that Nasser al-Wuhayshi was killed in an attack in Hadramawt province on June 12.

“We in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula mourn to our Muslim nation… that Abu Baseer Nasser bin Abdul Karim al-Wuhayshi, God rest his soul, passed away in an American strike which targeted him along with two of his mujahideen brothers, may God rest their souls,” Khaled Batarfi, a senior member of the group, was quoted as saying on the video.

The Pentagon said it would not comment.

But it previously said that if the death were confirmed it would be the biggest strike on al-Qaeda since Bin Laden’s death in Pakistani in 2011.

The US State Department offered a $10 million reward for anyone who could help bring Nasser al-Wuhayshi to justice.

It said he was “responsible for approving targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources to training and attack planning, and tasking others to carry out attacks”.

Nasser al-Wuhayshi became head of AQAP when the Yemeni and Saudi branches of al-Qaeda merged in 2009.

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New documents that were found at Osama bin Laden’s secret compound in Pakistan during the 2011 raid have been released by the US intelligence officials.

Osama bin Laden was killed during the 2011 operation. During the same operation the US special forces recovered the documents that officials have branded Bin Laden’s Bookshelf.

As well as Arabic correspondence, there are English language books by Bob Woodward and Noam Chomsky, and others on economic and military theory.

More documents may yet be released.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said a “rigorous” review had taken place before the documents were released.

The documents – 103 papers and videos in all – include a number of translated letters, notes, and other material detailing al-Qaeda operations. Many of the documents also have a version available in Arabic.

In one of the letters, the al-Qaeda chief instructs one of his deputies to tell “our brothers” that they must remained focused on fighting Americans.

Their “job is to uproot the obnoxious tree by concentrating on its American trunk, and to avoid being occupied with the local security forces,” Osama bin-Laden writes.

Another letter mocks President George W. Bush’s War on Terror, with Osama bin Laden writing that it had not created stability in Iraq or Afghanistan. No date is included on the translation provided on the US government website.Osama bin Laden documents released 2015

There is also section entitled Materials Regarding France, which includes a number of academic reports and articles about the France’s military, politics and economy.

Also included is a document described as a “suicide prevention guide”, several English language books including Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, several maps, and a few video game guides.

The documents are being released in the wake of President Barack Obama’s calls for greater transparency, said Jeffrey Anchukaitis, a spokesman for the ODNI.

“The Intelligence Community will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release,” Jeffrey Anchukaitis said.

Some of the material that has been included in the trove was previously declassified for use in federal prosecutions.

In 2012, some documents recovered in the raid were released by the research wing of the US military academy, West Point.

Osama bin Laden’s former aide Khalid Abdulrahman al-Fawwaz has been sentenced to life in jail for aiding in the bombing of US embassies in east Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people.

Saudi national Khalid al-Fawwaz was arrested in London the same year as the bombings, and was extradited to the US 14 years later.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

He has been called Osama bin Laden’s spokesman and al-Qaeda’s media adviser in London.

Khalid al-Fawwaz was convicted in February of four conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say he operated an office in London where he disseminated Osama bin Laden’s fatwas, or religious decrees, to media outlets.

Khalid al-Fawwaz was also accused of using the office to send communications equipment, including a satellite phone, to the al-Qaeda leader.

The sentence was read out by a Manhattan jury at a heavily guarded downtown courthouse.

Khalid al-Fawwaz’s lawyers argued that he was a peaceful political dissident and not a violent terrorist.

The White House has admitted that two hostages held by al-Qaeda were accidentally killed by a US counterterrorism operation in January.

American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in the raid in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Barack Obama described it as a painful loss he profoundly regretted.

Two other Americans thought to be al-Qaeda members were also killed, one of them in the same raid.

Al-Qaeda leader Ahmed Farouq was killed in that operation and Adam Gadahn, once regarded as a spokesman for the militant group, was killed in a separate raid, the White House said.Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto

Unnamed officials told Associated Press the attack that killed the hostages was a CIA drone strike.

Barack Obama, speaking at the White House about the operation that killed the hostages, said the US had launched the raid in the belief the target was an al-Qaeda compound with no civilians present.

As commander-in-chief, the president said, he took “full responsibility” for the operation.

The White House said compensation would be paid to the families of the hostages.

Warren Weinstein’s wife Elaine said in a statement the family was “devastated”.

“Those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility,” she added.

Elaine Weinstein thanked several members of the US congress and unnamed officials from the FBI, but said the assistance received from “other elements of the US government was inconsistent and disappointing”.

She also criticized the Pakistani government and military who, she said, treated her husband’s captivity “as more of an annoyance than a priority”.

Barack Obama said the operation was in compliance with the White House’s counterterrorism protocols.

Warren Weinstein, 73, was abducted in Lahore in 2011, where he was working as an aid worker. Giovanni Lo Porto disappeared from Multan, Pakistan in January 2012. Both men were aid workers.

Saudi national Khalid al-Fawwaz, a former aide of Osama Bin Laden, has been found guilty of plotting the al-Qaeda bombing of US embassies in east Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people.

Khalid al-Fawwaz, 53, was convicted by a New York court after three days of jury deliberations.

Extradited from the UK to the US in 2012, Khalid al-Fawwaz was found guilty on four conspiracy counts and now faces a possible life sentence.

Khalid al-Fawwaz has been described as Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman in London.

A statement from Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the defendant “played a critical role for al-Qaeda in its murderous conspiracy against America”.

There were a dozen Americans among the dead after US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania were bombed in 1998.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

He was arrested in London in the same year as the bombings and extradited 14 years later.

Preet Bharara described Khalid al-Fawwaz as one of Osama Bin Laden’s “original and most trusted lieutenants” who was the leader of an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, then later acted as Bin Laden’s “media adviser” in London.

One of his roles, Preet Bharara said, was to ensure Osama Bin Laden’s threats against the US were distributed and noticed across the globe.

“Murderous words lead to murderous action,” assistant Attorney Nicholas Lewin told jurors.

The trial, which lasted a month under very heavy security in Manhattan, did not feature any testimony from the defendant.

When the verdict was read out, Khalid al-Fawwaz stood expressionless.

Five other people have already been convicted in New York for the embassy attacks.

A military base in southern Yemen has been seized by al-Qaeda linked fighters, militants and officials say.

The Ansar al-Sharia group said they set off a bomb at the base in the central town Bayhan before capturing soldiers.

The attack comes amid fears that Yemen is plunging into chaos after Shia rebels took over the capital.

Shia Houthis have been expanding south from their northern stronghold, prompting clashes with al-Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP) and other Sunni groups.

The UN has warned that Yemen is on the brink of civil war.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The base is in Shabwa province, an al-Qaeda stronghold. It is reportedly home to more than 1,000 troops.

The militants captured heavy weaponry when they took the base, one official told the AFP news agency.

Tribal mediators were trying to convince the group to withdraw, the official added.

Last week, the Houthis dissolved parliament and announced the formation of an interim government.

The move was widely condemned, with critics calling the actions a “coup”.

The US, UK and France have said they are closing their embassies in Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation there.

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9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui has claimed members of the Saudi royal family helped fund the 2001 attacks.

Al-Qaeda’s Zacarias Moussaoui, who is imprisoned in Colorado for his role in the 9/11 attacks, gave testimony in October to lawyers for victims suing Saudi Arabia.

His statement came to light when it was filed in court this week in response to a Saudi bid to drop the lawsuit.

Saudi Arabia has rejected the accusation from a “deranged criminal” with no credibility.

They have made several attempts for the lawsuit to be dropped.Zacarias Moussaoui accuses Saudi royals of funding attacks

In a rare interview for an inmate at a high security “supermax” prison, Zacarias Moussaoui said “extremely famous” Saudi officials, including Prince Turki al-Faisal Al Saud, a former Saudi intelligence chief, were funding al-Qaeda from the late 1990s.

Zacarias Moussaoui also claimed to have met a Saudi official in Afghanistan who worked in the US embassy.

The two men were later supposed to travel to Washington to find a location “suitable to launch a stinger [missile] attack” on Air Force One, he said.

His claims, made under oath, have not been verified.

Zacarias Moussaoui was arrested weeks before the 9/11 attacks on immigrations charges and was in prison at the time of the attacks. He had taken flying lessons in Minnesota and had been wired money by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

In court at his sentencing, Zacarias Moussaoui said he had been part of a grandiose plot to fly a Boeing 747 into the White House.

However, testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – also in US custody – was used by Zacarias Moussaoui’s defense lawyers to undercut his claims during trial.

Families of 9/11 victims allege that Saudi Arabia and a government-affiliated charity knowingly provided funding and other material support to al-Qaeda that helped it carry out the attacks.

Plaintiffs include families of the nearly 3,000 people killed, as well as insurers that covered losses suffered by building owners and businesses.

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Human rights groups and the United Nations have called for the prosecution of US officials involved in what a Senate report called the “brutal” CIA interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects.

A top UN human rights envoy said there had been a “clear policy orchestrated at a high level”.

The CIA has defended its actions in the years after the 9/11 attacks on the US, saying they saved lives.

President Barack Obama said it was now time to move on.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson said that senior officials from the administration of George W. Bush who planned and sanctioned crimes must be prosecuted, as well as CIA and US government officials responsible for torture such as waterboarding.

“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” Ben Emmerson said in a statement made from Geneva.

“The US attorney general is under a legal duty to bring criminal charges against those responsible.”CIA torture report

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said that the CIA’s actions were criminal “and can never be justified”.

“Unless this important truth-telling process leads to prosecution of officials, torture will remain a <<policy option>> for future presidents,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that the attorney general should appoint a special prosecutor to conduct “an independent and complete investigation of Bush administration officials who created, approved, carried out and covered up the torture program”.

“The crime of torture has no statute of limitations when torture risks or results in serious injury or death, and the US government has the obligation under international law to investigate any credible evidence that torture has been committed,” an ACLU statement said.

“If there’s sufficient evidence of criminal conduct… The offenders should be prosecuted. In our system, no one should be above the law, yet only a handful of mainly low-level personnel have been criminally prosecuted for abuse. That is a scandal.”

CIA torture report key findings:

None of 20 cases of counterterrorism “successes” attributed to the techniques led to unique or otherwise unavailable intelligence

The CIA misled politicians and public

At least 26 of 119 known detainees in custody during the life of the program were wrongfully held, and many held for months longer than they should have been

Methods included sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, often standing or in painful positions

Saudi al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end

Waterboarding and “rectal hydration” were physically harmful to prisoners, causing convulsions and vomiting

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According to a US Senate report, the CIA carried out “brutal” interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

The summary of the report, compiled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the CIA misled Americans about what it was doing.

The information the CIA collected this way failed to secure information that foiled any threats, the report said.

In a statement, the CIA insisted that the interrogations did help save lives.

“The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaeda and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” Director John Brennan said in a statement.

However, the CIA said it acknowledged that there were mistakes in the program, especially early on when it was unprepared for the scale of the operation to detain and interrogate prisoners.

Photo AFP/Getty Images

Photo AFP/Getty Images

The program – known internally as the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program – took place from 2002 to 2007, during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Suspects were interrogated using methods such as waterboarding, slapping, humiliation, exposure to cold and sleep deprivation.

Introducing the report to the Senate, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein described the CIA’s actions as a stain on US history.

“The release of this 500-page summary cannot remove that stain, but it can and does say to our people and the world that America is big enough to admit when it’s wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes,” Dianne Feinstein said.

“Under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured,” she added.

Earlier, President Barack Obama responded to the report, saying the methods used were inconsistent with US values.

“These techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners,” he said in a statement.

Reacting to the release of the report summary, the Senate Republican leaders insisted that the methods used helped in the capture of important suspects and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong,” Senators Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss said in a joint statement.

The Senate committee’s report runs to more than 6,000 pages, drawing on huge quantities of evidence, but it remains classified and only a 480-page summary has been released.

Barack Obama halted the CIA interrogation program when he took office in 2009.

Earlier this year, the president said that in his view the methods used to question al-Qaeda prisoners amounted to torture.

Publication of the report had been delayed amid disagreements in Washington over what should be made public.

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Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie have been killed by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen during a failed rescue bid.

The military operation on December 6 was carried out by joint US and Yemeni special forces in the southern, Shabwa region.

President Barack Obama condemned Luke Somers’s death as a “barbaric murder”

They were being held by militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.

The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

President Barack Obama said he authorized the raid to rescue the UK-born American photojournalist and other hostages held in the same location.

He said information had “indicated that Luke’s life was in imminent danger.”Luke Somers killed in Yemen

A number of militants were also killed in the operation.

“Terrorists who seek to harm our citizens will feel the long arm of American justice,” Barack Obama said.

A US official told the New York Times that Luke Somers was apparently shot by his captors as the raid unfolded and was badly wounded when the US forces reached him.

By the time he was flown to a US naval ship in the region, he had died from his injuries, the official was quoted as saying.

Luke Somers’ sister, Lucy Somers, told the Associated Press earlier that she had been notified by the FBI of his death.

“We ask that all of Luke’s family members be allowed to mourn in peace,” Lucy Somers told AP, speaking from London.

Meanwhile there are reports that Pierre Korkie was expected to be released on December 7.

Pierre Korkie was abducted with his wife Yolande in May 2013 in Yemen’s second city, Taiz.

Yolande Korkie was freed on January 2014 without ransom and returned to South Africa.

Luke Somers, 33, was kidnapped in Yemen in September 2013.

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Top al-Qaeda commander Adnan el Shukrijumah, who was accused of planning to bomb trains in New York and London, has been killed in Pakistan, the country’s military says.

Adnan el Shukrijumah was killed in a raid in north-western Pakistan, near the Afghan border, the military said.

The FBI describes him as al-Qaeda’s global operations chief, a post once held by the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Adnan el Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia and lived for several years in the US.

He was named in a US federal indictment as a conspirator in the case against three men accused of plotting suicide bomb attacks on New York’s subway system in 2009.

Adnan el Shukrijumah is also suspected of having played a role in plotting al-Qaeda attacks in Panama, Norway and the UK.

Photo FBI

Photo FBI

Pakistan’s military said two other militants were killed in the raid on December 6. One soldier was also reportedly killed, and another was hurt.

A military statement said the “intelligence-borne operation” took place in the Shinwarsak region of South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.

The region is a base for the Pakistani Taliban and its allies.

Pakistan’s military launched an offensive in June against militants in neighboring North Waziristan.

Adnan el Shukrijumah is alleged to have been in charge of planning al-Qaeda attacks outside Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A Saudi national, he spent more than 15 years in the US, moving there when his father took up a post at a Brooklyn mosque. The family later moved to Florida.

In the late 1990s, Adnan el Shukrijumah is thought to have left for militant training camps in Afghanistan.

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US and Yemeni forces have launched a new military operation to rescue American hostage Luke Somers held by al-Qaeda militants, reports say.

Details of the bid to free UK-born journalist Luke Somers are unclear.

It comes as nine alleged al-Qaeda militants were reported to have died in a drone strike believed to have been carried out by the US in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province.

Yemen’s defense ministry confirmed a “major operation” was taking place in the region.

Luke Somers, who was abducted in Yemen in 2013, has appeared in a video appealing for help.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon confirmed that an attempt to rescue Luke Somers last month had failed.Luke Somers hostage in Yemen

There are conflicting reports about the outcome of the operation to free him on December 6.

Luke Somers, 33, worked as a journalist and photographer for local news organizations. His material appeared on international news outlets.

The video of Luke Somers released this week also shows a member of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) threatening to kill him unless unspecified demands are met.

AQAP is regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.

The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

Luke Somers’ family has appealed in a video to al-Qaeda militants in Yemen to “show mercy” and release him.

In the online statement, the mother of the UK-born American hostage, Paula Somers, says: “Please… give us an opportunity to see our Luke again.”

A man identifying himself as Luke Somers, who was abducted in 2013, appeared in a separate video on December 3, saying his life was in danger and asking for help.

The US has revealed it tried to rescue Luke Somers in November 2014.

“Regrettably, Luke was not present, though hostages of other nationalities were present and were rescued,” the National Security Council said on December 4.

In a video posted on YouTube, Luke Somers’ mother and brother said he was “only trying to do good things for the Yemeni population”.

“Luke is only a photojournalist and is not responsible for any actions the US government has taken,” his brother, Jordan, said.

Noting that her son “appears healthy” in his captors’ video, Paula Somers said: “We thank you for that.”Luke Somers hostage in Yemen

Luke Somers, 33, worked as a journalist and photographer for local news organizations and his material appeared on international news outlets.

In the video released on December 3, a member of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) threatens to kill Luke Somers unless unspecified demands are met.

In a statement afterwards, the White House said President Barack Obama had authorized a rescue operation to free Luke Somers and other hostages last month, but that he was not present at the time of the raid.

On November 25, US and Yemeni forces rescued six Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian being held by AQAP in an operation at a mountain cave in the remote Hajr al-Sayar district of Hadramawt province. Seven militants were reportedly killed.

AQAP’s threat to kill Luke Somers follows the murder of five Western hostages – including three Americans – since August by the Islamist militant group Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

The Obama administration has been criticized for not paying ransoms, not allowing hostage families to speak out and not taking opportunities to negotiate.

AQAP is regarded by the US as one of the deadliest offshoots of al-Qaeda.

The group is based in eastern Yemen and has built up support amid the unrest which has beset the impoverished country since the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011.

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Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who was an al-Qaeda spokesman after 9/11, has been sentenced to life in prison for terrorism-related charges at a trial in New York.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, is the highest-ranking al-Qaeda figure to face trial on US soil since 9/11 attacks.

The Kuwaiti clergyman was captured in Jordan last year and brought to the US.

In March, a jury found Sulaiman Abu Ghaith guilty of conspiracy to kill Americans and aiding al-Qaeda.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is the highest-ranking al-Qaeda figure to face trial on US soil since 9/11 attack

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is the highest-ranking al-Qaeda figure to face trial on US soil since 9/11 attack

Addressing him directly, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said it was his “assessment that you are committed to doing everything you can to carry out al Qaeda’s agenda to kill Americans”.

Videos showing Sulaiman Abu Ghaith threatening America with no end to the “storm of airplanes” were shown to jurors.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith argued his role was a purely religious one, aimed at encouraging all Muslims to rise up against their oppressors.

He testified that Osama bin Laden had asked him to be al-Qaeda’s spokesman on the night of the 9/11 attacks.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who is one of the highest-ranking al-Qaeda linked figures to face a civilian jury on terrorism-related charges, is married to Osama bin Laden’s eldest daughter Fatima.

Osama bin Laden, a founder of al-Qaeda, was killed by US forces in May 2011 at his hideout in Pakistan.

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The trial of Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith has begun in New York.

The prosecutor has said Sulaiman Abu Ghaith used the “murderous power of his words” to rally others against America after the 9/11 attacks.

The statement came during opening arguments in the terrorism trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who once served as al-Qaeda’s spokesman.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to kill Americans.

The Kuwaiti national was brought to New York from Turkey last year.

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith once served as al-Qaeda's spokesman

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghaith once served as al-Qaeda’s spokesman

Prosecutors say Sulaiman Abu Ghaith appeared in videos with Osama bin Laden the day after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington DC that killed almost 3,000, calling for jihad against “the Jews, the Christians and the Americans”.

Assistant US Attorney Nicholas Lewin described Sulaiman Abu Ghaith as a fiery orator who had spoken to those training in al-Qaeda camps in the months before the attacks in order to inspire them.

Nicholas Lewin said Sulaiman Abu Ghaith had agreed to appear in the group’s videos to call for further violence “while our buildings still burned”.

The Kuwaiti imam is married to the late al-Qaeda leader’s eldest daughter, Fatima. He is the highest-ranking al-Qaeda official to stand trial in the US since the 9/11 attacks.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was turned over to US officials in Jordan in 2013 after being deported from Turkey.

On Wednesday, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith’s lawyer mocked the prosecution’s opening statement.

“You’ve just been to the movies ladies and gentlemen,” Stanley Cohen said.

“At the end of the day, there’s really no evidence. There is the substitution for evidence with fright and alarm.”

He told them some of what Sulaiman Abu Ghaith had said was “dumb. It’s stupid”.

The Obama administration’s decision to try Sulaiman Abu Ghaith in civilian court had been criticized by Republicans.

A Pakistani bomb blast that struck an army convoy in north-western part of the  country has killed at least 20 soldiers, sources in the security forces say.

At least 24 others were injured in the explosion near the town of Bannu, with fears the death toll will rise.

The source of the explosion is still being investigated.

Pakistan’s Taliban said they had carried out the attack as part of a “fight against a secular system” and promised “many more such attacks”.

At least 20 soldiers have been killed in north-western Pakistan in a bomb blast that struck an army convoy

At least 20 soldiers have been killed in north-western Pakistan in a bomb blast that struck an army convoy

Soldiers and paramilitary Frontier Corps were preparing to leave Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for Razmak in North Waziristan when their convoy was rocked by the blast.

“The explosion took place in one of the vehicles of the convoy,” an unnamed senior security official told AFP.

“We are trying to ascertain the exact nature of the explosion, whether it was a planted device or a suicide attack.”

A military source told Reuters news agency the soldiers had been travelling in a hired civilian vehicle.

Speaking to Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said: “With the help of God we claim responsibility for this.

“The army is our enemy. We will carry out many more attacks like this again.”

Last week, a senior police officer known for campaigning against the militants was killed in a bomb blast in Karachi.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the US will help Iraq fight al-Qaeda-linked militants, but that it is not planning to send troops back to the country.

John Kerry said he was confident the government of Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki could defeat the militants.

Earlier, the Iraqi government said it had lost control of the strategic city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants now control the south of the city.

An Iraqi reporter there says tribesmen allied with al-Qaeda hold the rest of Fallujah.

John Kerry made the comments as he left Jerusalem for Jordan and Saudi Arabia to discuss his effort to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We will stand with the government of Iraq and with others who will push back against their efforts to destabilize,” he said.

John Kerry has said the US will help Iraq fight al-Qaeda-linked militants, but that it is not planning to send troops back to the country

John Kerry has said the US will help Iraq fight al-Qaeda-linked militants, but that it is not planning to send troops back to the country

“We are going to do everything that is possible. I will not go into the details.”

He added: “We are not contemplating putting boots on the ground. This is their fight.”

The head of the police in Anbar province – Hadi Razeij – said on Saturday that his men had pulled back to the city walls and the people of Fallujah were “the prisoners of Isis”.

Fighting there erupted after troops broke up a protest camp by Sunni Arabs in the city of Ramadi on Monday.

They have been accusing the Shia-led government of marginalizing the Sunnis.

Local Sunni Arabs have been angered by what they perceive as discrimination by the government of Nouri Maliki.

They also say their minority community is being targeted by anti-terrorism measures implemented to stem the surge in sectarian violence.

In recent months, Sunni militants have stepped up attacks across Iraq, while Shia groups began deadly reprisals – raising fears of a return to full-scale sectarian conflict.

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A New York Times in-depth report found no proof that al-Qaeda or any international terrorist groups played any role in the Benghazi attack, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

A senior Obama administration official said the White House does not dispute the article published Saturday about the 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The six-part report goes on to say that an American-made video mocking Islam largely triggered the attack, which was not well-planned.

“The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi,” the Times report reads, referring to the late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

A New York Times in-depth report found no proof that al-Qaeda or any international terrorist groups played any role in the Benghazi attack

A New York Times in-depth report found no proof that al-Qaeda or any international terrorist groups played any role in the Benghazi attack

“And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.” 

The Times said its investigation took months and was “centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context.”

It is not surprising the White House would welcome this report. Since the attack, Republicans have accused the Obama administration of downplaying the perpetrators’ links to al-Qaeda for political gain. The attack took place during the last leg of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Then UN Ambassador Susan Rice (now the national security advisor) became a lightning rod of criticism after appearing on all the Sunday talk shows shortly after the Benghazi attack and arguing it was the result of the American-made video.

Republicans have also held several hearings into the administration’s handling of the attack and its aftermath.

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