Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy
for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, has quit over President Donald Trump’s
decision to pull troops from Syria.
He brought his departure forward from February.
Before President Trump’s announcement he had insisted that the US would
continue working against ISIS in Syria.
President Trump described Brett McGurk’s resignation as a “nothing
The president tweeted: “Brett
McGurk, who I do not know, was appointed by President Obama in 2015. Was
supposed to leave in February but he just resigned prior to leaving.
Grandstander? The Fake News is making such a big deal about this nothing event!”
Brett McGurk’s decision to quit follows the resignation of Defense Secretary
Jim Mattis on December 20.
General Jim Mattis had also opposed withdrawing troops from Syria as well as
reducing the US presence in Afghanistan.
Brett McGurk, 45, is an experienced
diplomat who was appointed to his current role in 2015 under the Obama
In early December, the envoy told
reporters: “We want to stay on the
ground and make sure that stability can be maintained in these areas.”
He added: “It would be reckless if we were just to say, well, the physical
caliphate is defeated, so we can just leave now. I think anyone who’s looked at
a conflict like this would agree with that.”
In his resignation letter, seen by
AP news agency, Brett McGurk said that ISIS militants in Syria were on the run
but not yet defeated. He said that withdrawing US forces from Syria would
create the conditions that gave rise to ISIS.
In an email to staff quoted by the New York Times, Brett McGurk said
President Trump’s decision to pull out troops “came as a shock and was a
complete reversal of policy”. It “left our coalition partners
confused and our fighting partners bewildered”, he said.
Brett McGurk went on to say: “I ultimately concluded I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.”
The Pentagon said it would not provide further details of what that next phase is “for force protection and operational security reasons”.
The White House said the US and its allies stood “ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support and any means of infiltrating our borders”.
Israel said it had been told the US had “other ways to have influence in the area” but would “study the timeline [of the withdrawal], how it will be done and of course the implications for us”.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on state-controlled Channel One TV that the US decision could result in “genuine, real prospects for a political settlement” in Syria.
Pulling troops out of Syria had long been promised by President Trump.
The state department abruptly canceled its daily briefing on December 19 after the withdrawal was announced.
One of President Trump’s supporters, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the armed services committee, called it a “huge Obama-like mistake”.
In a series of tweets, Lindsey Graham said ISIS was “not defeated”, and warned withdrawing US troops puts “our allies, the Kurds, atrisk”.
This week Turkey said it was preparing to launch an operation against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria, which has been an ally of the US in its fight against ISIS.
A 29-year-old man has been killed and other four people wounded in a knife attack in the busy Opéra district of Paris on May 12.
According to witnesses, the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) before being shot dead by police.
ISIS later said one of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
France has been on high alert following a series of attacks in Paris and Lyon. More than 230 people have been killed by ISIS-inspired jihadists in the past three years.
Security forces have identified the attacker as being born in 1997 in the Russian republic of Chechnya, although he was not carrying any identification papers and has not been officially named. Chechnya is a republic in the North Caucasus region of southern Russia.
The republic declared independence in 1991 but Russian troops invaded in 1994 to quash it, sparking a decade-long conflict.
Jihadist groups, including those aligned with ISIS, have long operated in the region.
The judicial source told French media the suspect had no criminal record and that his parents had been held for questioning. Another source told Reuters the suspect was not previously known to police.
The suspect is believed to be a French national.
This is thought to be the first time an assailant of Chechen origin has carried out a terrorist attack in France.
France is home to some 30,000 people of Chechen origin.
France’s Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the man who died was a 29-year-old passer-by, but gave no further details.
The four who were injured have also not yet been named. AFP news agency, citing sources, said a 34-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were seriously hurt, while a 26-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were slightly wounded.
Gérard Collomb said none had life-threatening injuries.
The attacker began stabbing passers-by at about 21:00 local time.
Eyewitnesses described him as a young man with brown hair and a beard, dressed in black tracksuit trousers.
The attacker tried to enter several bars and restaurants but was blocked by people inside.
Police first tried to stop the assailant with a stun-gun before shooting him dead, nine minutes after he began the attack.
Nine people have been killed in Egypt during two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, the interior ministry has said.
According to the interior ministry statement, 6 civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested.
It said the gunman had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.
The interior ministry revised an earlier account given by the health ministry.
The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.
More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in 2017, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of ISIS.
Security forces have reinforced checkpoints in place around Cairo in response to the attacks.
Earlier this week, they announced plans to protect festivities around the New Year and, on January 7, Coptic Christmas. They include the deployment of rapid-reaction forces, combat troops and jamming equipment.
According to the interior ministry statement, the first attack on December 29 took place at a household appliances shop. Then the attacker headed to the Saint Mina Coptic church, where he attempted “to trespass the church’s perimeter security”.
It said that seven people, including an auxiliary policeman, had been killed and four injured as the gunman opened fire at the church.
The attacker also had an explosive device, a machine gun and 150 rounds, it added.
The ministry suggested he was known to security services, saying he was “one of the most active terrorist elements and he carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians”.
However, the interior ministry account contradicts earlier ones from officials and witnesses, who spoke of a higher death toll and more than one attacker.
Video footage has also emerged appearing to show one gunman lying dead at the scene and another alleged attacker fleeing in a red car.
Egypt is a Muslim-majority country and its Christian minority – mostly members of the Coptic Orthodox Church – make up around 10% of the population.
Locals are quoted as saying that followers of Sufism, a mystical branch of Sunni Islam, regularly gathered at the mosque.
Although Sufis are widely accepted across much of the Muslim world, some jihadist groups, including IS, see them as heretics.
The head of ISIS’ religious police in Sinai said last December that Sufis who did not “repent” would be killed, after the group beheaded two elderly men reported to be Sufi clerics.
The victim of the mosque attack also included military conscripts.
Militant Islamists have been waging an insurgency on the Sinai Peninsula in recent years, stepping up attacks after Egypt’s military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after mass anti-government protests in July 2013.
Hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians have been killed since then, mostly in attacks carried out by Sinai Province group, which is affiliated to ISIS.
Sinai Province is thought to want to take control of the Sinai Peninsula in order to turn it into an Islamist province run by ISIS.
The charges filed against Sayfullo Saipov are federal, which means the government can override New York state’s ban on capital punishment.
Sayfullo Saipov appeared in court in a wheelchair 24 hours after mowing down cyclists and pedestrians on a bike lane in Lower Manhattan on October 31.
Six people died at the scene and two more in hospital. Twelve people were injured, four of whom remain in critical condition.
Prosecutors say Sayfullo Saipov spoke freely to them, waiving his right to avoid self-incrimination while in custody.
According to federal court papers, the suspect said the attack was planned two months ago, and he carried out a trial run with a rental truck last month. He intentionally chose Halloween because he believed there would be more people in the streets. Sayfullo Saipov originally planned to target the Brooklyn Bridge as well and he wanted to display ISIS flags on the truck, but decided not to draw attention to himself.
Sayfullo Saipov was inspired by 90 propaganda videos found on his phone – in particular, one in which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asks what Muslims are doing to avenge deaths in Iraq.
He is also accused of providing material support and resources to ISIS.
Sayfullo Saipov, the man accused of killing 8 people in Lower Manhattan by driving a truck down a cycle lane, was inspired by ISIS, police say.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said that notes in Arabic claiming the attack on behalf of ISIS were recovered from the scene of the attack in New York.
Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, was shot and injured by police.
The suspect is in hospital and under arrest.
John Miller said: “Based on the investigation overnight, it appears that Mr. Saipov had been planning this for a number of weeks.
“He did this in the name of ISIS, and along with the other items recovered at the scene was some notes that further indicate that.
“He appears to have followed almost exactly to a ‘T’ the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before, with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.”
One of the notes said “the Islamic State would endure forever”, the deputy commissioner added.
President Donald Trump has ruled out a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that the move would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill.
Donald Trump said his original instinct was to pull US forces out, but had instead decided to stay and “fight to win” to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq.
The president said he wanted to shift from a time-based approach in Afghanistan to one based on conditions on the ground, adding he would not set deadlines.
However, President Trump warned it was not a “blank cheque” for Afghanistan.
He said: “America will work with the Afghan government, so long as we see commitment and progress.”
The Taliban responded by saying that Afghanistan would become “another graveyard” for the US if it did not withdraw its troops.
President Trump has committed to stepping up the US military’s engagement in Afghanistan, but details were few and far between.
The president said his new approach would be more pragmatic than idealistic, and would switch from nation building to “killing terrorists”.
However, Donald Trump refused to get drawn on how many extra troops, if any, would be deployed and gave no timeline for ending the US presence in Afghanistan.
Washington is expected to send up to 4,000 additional troops, but President Trump did not comment on this.
He did, however, put pressure on neighboring Pakistan, warning that the US would no longer tolerate it offering “safe havens” to extremists – an accusation swiftly dismissed by a Pakistani army spokesman.
President Trump also, for the first time, left the door open for an eventual peace deal with the Taliban, saying: “Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
However, he said there would be an escalation in the battle against groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
“[They] need to know they have nowhere to hide – that no place is beyond the reach of American arms,” President Trump said.
Meanwhile, he made it clear he expects his existing allies – singling out India – to support him in his new strategy, and urged them to raise their countries’ contributions “in line with our own”.
Before his presidency, Donald Trump was not shy about criticizing his predecessors on their Afghanistan policy. He previously supported pulling US troops out of the conflict, which began under President George W. Bush in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.
In November 2013, he said: “We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!”
However, early on in his presidential campaign, he did acknowledge that US troops would have to stay in order to avoid the total collapse of the Afghan government.
This long-awaited announcement came after a months-long review, with the president himself acknowledging that his original instinct to pull-out had been reversed after discussions with national security advisers.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the plan, saying: “The US-Afghan partnership is stronger than ever in overcoming the threat of terrorism that threaten us all.”
He said the new strategy would enhance the training of Afghan security forces.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also praised the move and said the alliance, which has about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan, would not allow the country to become “a safe haven for terrorists who would attack our own countries”.
General John Nicholson, the head of both US and international forces in Afghanistan, said it “means the Taliban cannot win militarily”.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid dismissed President Trump’s strategy as “nothing new”, telling the US to think of an exit strategy “instead of continuing the war”.
US combat operations against the Taliban officially ended in 2014, more than 8,000 Special Forces continue to provide support to Afghan troops.
The Afghan government continues to battle insurgency groups and controls just half of the country.
Spanish media have named 18-year-old Moussa Oubakir as the suspect.
Moussa Oubakir is the brother of Driss Oubakir, whose documentation was allegedly used to rent the van involved in the attack.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has condemned what he called a “jihadist attack”. He has announced three days of national mourning and a minute’s silence was held at noon on August 18.
Seven people, including a police officer, were wounded when a car was driven into them on August 18 in the morning, Catalan emergency services said. One later died in hospital.
Image source Twitter
The attackers’ vehicle overturned and when the men got out they were quickly fired upon by police, media say. One was reportedly brandishing a knife.
According to police, the men were wearing what appeared to be explosive belts and a series of controlled explosions was carried out. The belts proved to be fake, Catalan regional head Carles Puigdemont later told local radio.
Police say the situation in Cambrils – a popular seaside resort 68 miles south-west of Barcelona – is now under control.
Witnesses said the van deliberately targeted people, weaving from side to side.
The driver of the van, believed to be the sole attacker, fled on foot and is still being hunted by police.
Las Ramblas is a central boulevard that runs 0.75 miles through the center of Barcelona from the city’s Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) to the Christopher Columbus monument at the seafront.
Citizens of some 24 countries were killed or injured in the Las Ramblas attack, the Catalan government has said.
The confirmed dead are: Spaniard Francisco López Rodríguez, who was in his 60s; Italian Bruno Gulotta, 35; unnamed Italian; unnamed Belgian.
France’s foreign ministry said on August 18 that 26 French nationals were injured, with at least 11 in a serious condition.
Another 13 German citizens were wounded, some seriously. A 5-year-old Irish boy suffered a broken leg.
Hong Kong, Taiwan and Greece are among those saying their citizens were injured. Pakistani, Philippine, Venezuelan, Australian, Romanian, Peruvian, Dutch, Danish, Algerian and Chinese nationals were also among the casualties, officials said.
Two people were detained on August 17 over the Las Ramblas attack, but not the driver of the van.
One of those held is Driss Oubakir, whose documents were used to rent the van, local media say.
According to local media, Driss Oubakir is in his 20s, and was born in Morocco. However, latest reports suggest he has told police he was not involved, and that his documents were stolen.
Spanish media also report that his younger brother, Moussa Oubakir, rented two vans, the one used in the attack and another found hours later in the town of Vic, north of Barcelona, and intended as a getaway vehicle.
The second man arrested was born in Melilla, the autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Africa. He has not been named.
On August 18, Spanish police announced a third arrest had been made in the Catalan town of Ripoll.
ISIS has said it was behind the Las Ramblas attack, saying in a brief statement carried by its Amaq news outlet that it was carried out by “Islamic State soldiers”. The group gave no further evidence or details to back this claim.
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.
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.
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.
Qatari nationals in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been given two weeks to leave.
Qatar denies backing militants and its foreign minister has called for “a dialogue of openness and honesty”.
Egypt has announced it was closing off its airspace to Qatar from 04:00 GMT on June 6 “until further notice”.
Travel disruption is expected as the airport in Doha, Qatar’s capital, is a major hub for international flight connections.
Image source Wikipedia
Airlines affected will include Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates.
When avoiding the massive neighbor to the west, Saudi Arabia, Qatari planes will inevitably have to take longer routes leading to longer flight times.
However, Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told broadcaster Al Jazeera the country would “still have access to the world through international sea lanes and international airspace”.
An anonymous Somali official told AP at least 15 Qatar Airways flights had used Somalia’s airspace on June 5, many more than on a normal day.
The states joining the move against Qatar, a tiny but gas-rich peninsula, on June 5 include some of the biggest powers in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE closed all transport ties by air, land and sea to Qatar.
They gave all Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their territory, and banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar.
The UAE and Egypt expelled Qatari diplomats, giving them 48 hours to leave.
Saudi Arabia closed down a local office of Al Jazeera, but said Qatari citizens would still be allowed to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Egypt, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives later followed suit in severing diplomatic ties.
Five countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen – have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region.
They say Qatar backs militant groups including ISIS and al-Qaeda, which Qatar has denied.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact with the tiny peninsula of Qatar.
Qatar called the decision “unjustified” and with “no basis in fact”.
Image source Flickr
The unprecedented move is being seen as a significant split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies.
It comes in the context of increased tensions between Gulf countries and their near-neighbor Iran. The Saudi statement accused Qatar of collaborating with Iranian-backed militias.
The diplomatic withdrawal was put into motion by Bahrain then Saudi Arabia on June 5. Their allies swiftly followed.
SPA cited officials as saying the decision was taken to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.
The three Gulf countries have given Qatari nationals two weeks to leave their territory.
More broadly, there are two key factors driving June 5 decision: Qatar’s ties to Islamist groups, and the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
While Qatar has joined the US coalition against ISIS, the Qatari government has been forced to repeatedly deny accusations from Iraq’s Shia leaders that it provided financial support to ISIS.
However, wealthy individuals in the emirate are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hard-line Islamist groups in Syria. Qatar is also accused of having links to a group formerly known as the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
The SPA statement accused Qatar of backing these groups, as well as the widely-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and that it “promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly”.
However, Donald Trump has dismissed such allegations as “fake news”.
Image source Russian Foreign Ministry
During the election campaign, President Trump repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for how she handled sensitive material.
In a conversation with the Russian foreign minister and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office, the president revealed details that could lead to the exposure of a source of information, officials told the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The discussion was about an ISIS plot. President Trump reportedly went “off-script”, revealing specifics of the plot, thought to centre on the use of laptop computers on aircraft, and the city from which that threat had been detected.
The intelligence disclosed came from a US ally and was considered too sensitive to share with other US allies, the papers report.
Others present realized the mistake and scrambled to “contain the damage” by informing the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), the Washington Post reports.
Donald Trump’s actions would not be illegal, as the US president has the authority to declassify information.
A police officer has been shot dead and two other wounded after a gunman opened fire on Paris’ Champs-Elysees on April 20.
The 39-year-old gunman has been identified from papers left in his car, but French officials are yet to release his name.
Local media say the suspect lived in Paris’ suburbs, and had been seen as a potential Islamist radical.
The attacker was killed by security forces on the Champs-Elysees.
President François Hollande is to chair a security cabinet meeting, as France readies for April 23 presidential poll.
Francois Hollande said he was convinced the attack was “terrorist-related”, adding that the security forces had the full support of the nation and a national tribute would be paid to the fallen policeman.
Meanwhile, ISIS said one of its “fighters” had carried out the attack.
A car pulled up alongside a police bus just before 21:00 and a man got out, opening fire on the bus with an automatic weapon, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.
After killing an officer, the man attempted to run away while shooting at other officers, two of whom he injured, the spokesman added.
The attacker was then shot dead by security forces.
The whole of the Champs-Elysees was evacuated.
Overnight, a property in the eastern Parisian suburb of Chelles was searched by investigators, who want to know who else – if anyone – may have known about the gunman’s plans.
Paris prosecutor François Molins said shortly after the shootings that “the attacker’s identity is known and has been verified”.
Image source NBC News
“I won’t reveal it, because investigations and raids are already under way, in particular to establish whether there is any evidence or not of complicity (in this attack),” Francois Molins said, adding that more information would be released on April 21.
According to French media, the gunman served several years in prison for firing on police officers with a gun in the early 2000s.
Meanwhile, ISIS identified the attacker as Abu-Yusuf al-Baljiki, in a statement carried by its Amaq news outlet.
The 11 candidates standing in April 23 closely fought presidential election were engaged in a final joint TV appearance to argue their policies as the attack happened.
Marine Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, tweeted: “I feel for and stand by our security forces, who have been targeted again.”
Center-right contender François Fillon also went on Twitter to pay “tribute to the security forces who give their lives to protect ours”.
Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron said during his TV appearance that it was a president’s “first duty to protect” and he expressed his “solidarity” with the police.
Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon and Emmanuel Macron have announced they are canceling campaign events scheduled for April 21, the last day of canvassing for votes.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, standing for the far left, tweeted: “I strongly feel for the policemen killed and wounded and their families. Terrorist attacks will never go unpunished, accomplices never forgotten.”
On April 12, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack was “an appalling crime” and praised the fans of both Dortmund and their Champions League opponents, Monaco, for coming together.
Fans later filled Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund for the rescheduled quarter-final first-leg, which kicked off at 18:45 local time.
Image source Flickr
There was a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone by both sets of fans before kick-off.
Earlier, a spokeswoman for Germany’s federal prosecutor, Frauke Kohler, said: “Two suspects from the Islamist spectrum have become the focus of our investigation. Both of their apartments were searched, and one of the two has been detained.”
German media are reporting that the suspect detained is a 25-year-old Iraqi, and the second suspect is a 28-year-old German.
The explosion radius of the attack was about 100m. Prosecutors said it was lucky the casualties were not worse.
Frauke Kohler said a piece of shrapnel had embedded itself in the headrest of one of the seats on the team bus.
She said three copies of the same letter were found near the site of the blasts, indicating that the attacker had links to ISIS. The terrorist had said it carried out the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in December that killed 12 people.
Frauke Kohler said the letter demanded “the withdrawal of [German] tornado fighter jets from Syria and, I quote, the closure of Ramstein airbase.”
Ramstein is a significant US Air Force base. The text is being analyzed to see if it is authentic.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said the letter began with the phrase “in the name of Allah”.
However, the newspaper said it was possible the perpetrators were deliberately trying to mislead the investigation.
A second letter was published online, in which left-wing extremist groups claimed to have carried out the attack, but prosecutors had reason to believe this letter was not authentic.
Borussia Dortmund players were on their way to their Champions League match, when three explosive charges detonated, police said.
Spain international Marc Bartra underwent an operation after breaking a bone in his wrist. No other players were hurt, but a police officer on a motorbike escorting the bus suffered trauma from the noise of the explosions.
Several reports said the explosives had been hidden in a hedge.
Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss news outlet Blick that the bus had turned on to the main road when there was a loud noise.
The players ducked to the floor of the bus, not knowing if there would be more blasts, he said.
President Donald Trump is standing firm over his ban on immigration from seven countries despite court rulings and mass protests against it.
In a statement, the president said visas would once again be issued once “the most secure policies” were in place, and denied it was a Muslim ban.
The move has been widely condemned.
Meanwhile, 16 state attorneys general have said the order is unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders.
Donald Trump’s executive order, signed on January 27, halted the entire US refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely banned Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival – even if they held valid US visas or other immigration permits. It is not known how many others were turned away at airports overseas as they tried to board flights to the US.
Thousands gathered at airports around the country to protest on January 28, including lawyers who offered their services for free to those affected.
Image source Flickr
Further demonstrations were held on January 29, including protests outside the White House and Trump Tower in New York.
As well as the ban on all refugees, travelers who have nationality or dual nationality of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are not permitted to enter the United States for 90 days, or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa.
This includes those who share dual nationality with allied countries, although Canada has been told its dual nationals are not affected.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said US green-card holders – legal residents – would also not be affected, but some have been detained since the order came into effect.
President Trump tweeted early on January 29 that the US needed “extreme vetting, NOW” but later, in a statement, tried to offer more reassuring words, saying: “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.
“We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
Reince Priebus rejected criticism that the implementation of the order had been chaotic, and said only 109 people, out of 325,000 travelling, had been detained and “most of those people were moved out”.
He told reporters on January 29: “We’ve got a couple of dozen more that remain and I would suspect that as long as they’re not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today.”
However, they have failed to allay concern among some in their Republican party. Senator John McCain said the order would “probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda”, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was important to remember that “some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims”.
Democratic Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer said the US now appeared “less humanitarian, less safe, less American” and said the Democrats would introduce legislation to overturn it.
In a joint statement, 16 attorneys general, from states including California, New York and Pennsylvania, said they would “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order” and, until it was struck down, would “work to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created”.
Yesterday, federal Judge Ann Donnelly, in New York, ruled against the removal from the US of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorized to enter the United States”.
President Donald Trump held a series of phone calls with world leaders, including one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to the Kremlin, both sides had agreed to make fighting “international terrorism” – including ISIS and “other terrorist groups” in Syria – a top priority.
And the White House said the call was a “significant start” to improving a relationship “in need of repair”.
President Trump also spoke with leaders from Japan, Germany, France and Australia.
In a statement in English, the Kremlin provided more details of the first official call between the two leaders since Donald Trump took office.
The Kremlin said it was a “positive and constructive” conversation, during which they discussed the fight against terrorism, the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict, strategic stability, non-proliferation and Iran’s nuclear program, North and South Korea, the situation in Ukraine.
The Russian account of the call was also notable for its lack of any mention of economic sanctions against Russia by the US, which have been the subject of much speculation in recent days.
However, the statement did say both parties “stressed the importance of rebuilding mutually beneficial trade”, which, the Kremlin said, could aid the development of relations in other areas.
Russia considers all anti-Assad rebels in Syria as terrorist fighters, though the previous US administration has supported some moderate rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
The White House did not offer additional clarity on the items discussed, but rather issued a short statement saying: “Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.”
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin also agreed to arrange a face-to-face meeting for a later date – and stay in “regular personal contact”.
In his other phone calls on January 28, President Trump invited Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to the White House in a meeting scheduled for February 10, press secretary Sean Spicer said.
At least four people have been killed in a car bomb and gun assault on a courthouse in the Turkish city of Izmir, state media say.
Two attackers, a police officer and a court worker are being reported dead.
Officials blamed Kurdish militants for the attack. A third attacker is reportedly still being sought.
The attackers drove a car to the courthouse entrance, sparking an exchange with police and then detonating the car bomb.
Other of people were injured in the explosion, some critically.
Some of Turkey’s big cities have been targeted recently both by ISIS and by Kurdish militants.
Turkey launched a military operation in Syria last year to push back ISIS and Kurdish forces from the Turkish border.
Image source birgun.com
ISIS had said it was behind last weekend’s Istanbul club attack that left 39 people dead.
Izmir’s Governor Erol Ayyildiz the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov rifles and grenades.
Deputy PM Veysi Kaynak said that, judging by the weapons found following the raid, a much larger attack was being planned.
Images from the scene showed two cars ablaze. Erol Ayyildiz said that the second had been destroyed in a controlled explosion.
Reports of the number of people injured in the car bomb blast ranged from five to 11.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at the opening of a metro line in the capital, Ankara, said that Turkey was “under mutual attack by terrorist groups and they want Turkey to be brought to its knees”.
The Turkish president said: “They won’t be able to set people against each other. They couldn’t destroy our unity.”
No-one has yet said they carried out the Izmir attack but the governor said initial findings pointed to the involvement of Kurdish fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK is fighting for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.
It has carried out many attacks on Turkish security forces, particularly in the south-east.
A number of people of Uighur ethnicity have been detained in Turkey over the deadly Istanbul’s Reina club attack that killed 39, the state-run news agency reports.
Those arrested are believed to have come from China’s Xinjiang region with ties to the attacker, Anadolu agency says.
Deputy PM Veysi Kaynak also said they were closing in on the attacker, who he said was possibly an ethnic Uighur.
Also on January 5, there was an explosion near the courthouse in the city of Izmir in western Turkey.
Social media images showed two vehicles ablaze and several people were reported wounded.
Other images showed what appeared to be the body of a man carrying a gun, amid media reports he was an attacker who was shot dead by police.
Anadolu reported a second man was shot dead and police were seeking a third.
ISIS says it carried out the Istanbul attack over Turkey’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Turkish authorities have reportedly tightened security at the country’s land borders and airports to prevent the attacker from fleeing abroad.
Local media have run images of a suspect, saying the pictures were handed out by the police. But the police have given no official details.
The Turkish foreign minister has said the authorities have identified the gunman, but has not given further details.
Special forces made the early morning arrests at a housing complex in Selimpasa, a coastal town on the outskirts of Istanbul, after police were reportedly tipped off that individuals linked to the attacker were in the area.
Uighurs were among those detained – the number was not confirmed – on suspicion of “aiding and abetting” the attacker, Anadolu reported.
At least 36 people were already in custody over suspected links to the attack, many of whom were picked up in an earlier police operation in Izmir.
Several families had recently traveled there from Konya, a central city where the main suspect was said to have stayed for several weeks before the attack.
Separately, Veysi Kaynak told Turkish broadcaster A Hamer that the authorities knew where the suspect, who he described as “specially trained”, was hiding, without giving further details.
The deputy prime minister confirmed the attacker had acted alone, but may have had help inside Reina club.
Veysi Kaynak expressed confidence in the Turkish police operation but said he could not rule out the possibility of the attacker fleeing the country.
Previous media reports incorrectly suggested the attacker was a national from Kyrgyzstan, after a passport photo claiming to show the gunman was circulated.
It later emerged the passport belonged to someone unrelated to the attack.
Kyrgyzstan’s embassy in Turkey has since asked the media to retract the reports and issue an apology.
More than half of those killed in New Year’s attack on Istanbul’s popular Reina club were foreigners, including citizens from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq and Morocco.
The gunman managed to escape in the aftermath of the attack.
A day later, ISIS issued a statement saying “a heroic soldier” belonging to the group had carried out the attack in retaliation for Turkey’s military role in northern Syria.
Veysi Kaynak also said on January 5 Turks were questioning the use of the country’s Incirlik air base by both NATO and the US-led coalition launching air strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey launched a military operation in Syria in August to push back ISIS and Kurdish forces.
Some of Turkey’s big cities have since been targeted in a number of bomb attacks by ISIS and by Kurdish militants.
The gunman who carried out Istanbul’s Reina club attack on New Year’s Eve has been identified, Turkey’s foreign minister says.
However, Mevlut Cavusoglu did not name the attacker.
He gave no further details about the inquiry into the murder of 39 people at the Reina club.
ISIS has said it was behind the nightclub attack in which dozens more were hurt.
Meanwhile, a number of suspects have been arrested in the western city of Izmir.
The police operation on January 4 was said to have targeted families who had recently traveled to Izmir from Konya, a central city where the main suspect was said to have stayed for several weeks before the attack.
Turkish authorities released images of the main suspect on January 3 but later discounted reports that he was a 28-year-old Kyrgyz national who had flown home from Istanbul.
The country is under growing pressure while the gunman remains on the loose. Checkpoints were set up in Istanbul on January 4 as officers checked cars and taxis. Police arrested 12 people in raids in Istanbul on January 3.
Turkish media have run images of a suspect, saying the pictures were handed out by the police. But the police have given no official details.
A video posted on social media showed a man being physically attacked on the Asian side of Istanbul on January 4 as people shouted: “It’s him” and “it’s the Reina attacker”. The man was punched, knocked to the ground and taken to a local police station before being released.
EU affairs minister Omer Celik said the gunman had clearly had training in the Middle East, and had managed to evade police by not using technology and steering clear of “all modern intelligence techniques”.
In his first public comments about the attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that the jihadist would not succeed in dividing Turks, saying: “In Turkey, no-one’s way of life is under any threat. Those who claim this have to prove it. It is my duty to protect everyone’s rights.”
The Reina club, which sits on the banks of the Bosphorus, is one of Istanbul’s most fashionable venues – popular with foreigners and often frequented by singers and sports stars.
The attacker is said to have arrived by taxi before rushing through the entrance with a long-barreled gun he had taken from the boot of the car.
He fired randomly at people in an assault lasting seven minutes, and then fled during the chaos.
On January 3, Turkey extended its state of emergency for another three months. It was implemented following the July failed coup which was blamed on a movement loyal to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
However, Turkey’s big cities have also been targeted by ISIS and by Kurdish militants.
ISIS was blamed for an attack last June on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, in which more than 40 people were killed. Police are investigating whether the nightclub suspect belongs to the same cell.
Turkey’s Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus said on January 2 that Reina club attack was a “message” against Turkey’s operations in Syria but that they would not be affected.
Turkey launched a military operation in Syria in August to push back ISIS and Kurdish forces.
ISIS has claimed it was behind the New Year attack on Istanbul’s Reina club that killed 39 people in Turkey.
The Islamist group said in a statement it was carried out by “a heroic soldier”.
At least 600 revelers were celebrating in the early hours of January 1 at Reina club when the gunman began firing indiscriminately.
ISIS has been blamed for recent attacks in Turkey, which is taking military action against the group in neighboring Syria.
The group has already been linked to at least two attacks in Turkey in 2016.
Photo Getty Images
The ISIS statement accused Turkey of shedding the blood of Muslims through “its air strikes and mortar attacks” in Syria.
More details of the nightclub attack have been emerging. The attacker, who fired up to 180 bullets, arrived by taxi before rushing through the entrance with a long-barreled gun he had taken from the boot of the car.
The gunman fired randomly at people in an assault lasting seven minutes, starting with a security guard and a travel agent near the entrance. Both were killed.
The attacker is reported to have removed his overcoat before fleeing during the chaos.
Turkish media reports quote police sources as saying he may have been from Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan.
A manhunt is under way, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed, saying: “We hope the attacker will be captured soon.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused groups such as ISIS of trying “to create chaos”.
“They are trying to… demoralize our people and destabilize our country,” he said.
Turkey suffered a bloody 2016 with a series of attacks, some carried out by Kurdish militants.
However, a day before the ISIS claim, the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was quick to distance itself from Reina club attack, saying it would “never target innocent civilians”.
At least 25 of those killed were foreign, according to local media, among them citizens from Israel, Russia, France, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Belgium, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Security guard Fatih Cakmak was among the first to die.
At least 69 people are being treated in hospital, officials said, with three in a serious condition.
Reina club, which sits on the banks of the Bosphorus, is one of Istanbul’s most fashionable venues – popular with foreigners and often frequented by singers and sports stars.