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Westlake Legal Group > JON GAMBRELL

US-Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news US-Iran tensions rise ahead of anniversary of deal pullout JON GAMBRELL fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc db12d9b1-3b16-5204-8eac-09b4077b2b4d Associated Press article

A sudden White House announcement that a U.S. aircraft carrier and a bomber wing would be deployed in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran comes just days ahead of the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is said to be planning a speech Wednesday on the anniversary to discuss the next steps Tehran will take in confronting the U.S. Officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran might increase its uranium enrichment, potentially pulling away from a deal it has sought to salvage for months.

The military has almost always had an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as part of its sprawling military presence in the strategic region, but had begun to scale back its presence as the air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria wound down.

Sunday night’s statement from national security adviser John Bolton said the USS Abraham Lincoln, other ships in the carrier’s strike group and a bomber wing would deploy to the Mideast. Bolton blamed “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings,” without elaborating.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said.

In Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency on Monday quoted an anonymous official as saying that Rouhani planned a broadcast address Wednesday and may discuss the “counteractions” Tehran will take over America’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. It said Iranian officials have informed their European counterparts — with whom Iran has been trying to salvage the agreement — of the planned speech.

“Partial and total reduction of some of Iran’s commitments and resumption of some nuclear activities which were ceased following (the deal) are the first step,” ISNA said. Iranian state television and the semi-official Fars news agency similarly suggested an Iranian response loomed.

A spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Keivan Khosravi, also dismissed Bolton’s comments as “psychological warfare.”

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says Iran has continued to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But American sanctions have wreaked havoc on Iran’s already-anemic economy, while promised help from European partners in the deal haven’t alleviated the pain.

The U.S. last week stopped issuing waivers for countries importing Iranian crude oil, a crucial source of cash for Iran’s government.

It’s unclear what specific threat American officials perceive coming from Iran. A U.S. official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said American troops at land and sea could be targeted.

The USS Abraham Lincoln had been in the Mediterranean Sea conducting operations alongside the USS John C. Stennis, another aircraft carrier that has twice been in the Persian Gulf in recent months.

However, American military officials have stopped the near-continuous presence of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, a pattern set following the 1991 Gulf War. American air bases spanning the region can scramble fighter jets and drones, lessening the necessity of an aircraft carrier as U.S. officials also worry about China and Russia.

Already in the Persian Gulf is a group of U.S. Navy warships led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship carrying troops from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Kearsarge also carries AV-8B Harrier fighter jets, MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 Osprey airplanes.

Across the wider 5th Fleet, there were 17 warships deployed, according to the most-recent count by the U.S. Naval Institute, which tracks deployments around the world.

The Bahrain-based 5th Fleet declined to comment on the White House announcement when reached by the AP on Monday.

It also remains unclear what bomber wing would be deployed to the region. Typically, the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, home to the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command, hosts such bomber deployments.

In late March, the Air Force acknowledged a rare gap in bomber cover in the Mideast after a squadron of B-1 Lancers left al-Udeid to return to Texas. B-52 bombers also had been deployed to the area to keep up attacks on the Islamic State group, the first time the aging aircraft had deployed to the region in 25 years.

Officials at al-Udeid, which also hosts the F-35 fighter jet, declined to answer questions from the AP.

The Trump administration, which abruptly announced in December that it was pulling out of Syria, still maintains 2,000 U.S. troops in the northern part of the war-torn country. Officials suggest they serve as a check on Iranian ambitions and help ensure that Islamic State fighters do not regroup. No significant U.S. forces have so far withdrawn from Syria.

Trump has also said he has no plans to withdraw the 5,200 troops stationed in Iraq as part of a security agreement to advise, assist and support the country’s troops in the fight against IS. Earlier this year, Trump angered Iraqi politicians and Iranian-backed factions by saying troops should stay there to keep an eye on neighboring Iran.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

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Ambassador: US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat

Westlake Legal Group ambassador-us-had-no-prior-knowledge-of-sri-lanka-threat Ambassador: US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat JON GAMBRELL fox-news/us/religion fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fa630c60-7c31-501b-b702-75cd7d1e4642 Associated Press article

The U.S. had no prior knowledge of the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 350 people, the American ambassador said Wednesday, despite local claims that foreign officials had been warned an attack was looming.

As the investigation into Sunday’s Islamic State-claimed attack continues, FBI agents and U.S. military personnel are in Sri Lanka assisting the probe, Ambassador Alaina Teplitz said.

While declining to say whether U.S. officials had intelligence on the local extremists and their leader who allegedly carried out the assault, Teplitz said America remained concerned over militants at large.

She also said that “clearly there was some failure in the system” that caused Sri Lankan officials to fail to share the warnings they received prior to the attack.

“I can tell you definitively we were not warned and we did not have any prior knowledge of this,” Teplitz told foreign journalists from her office at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo. “We did not know because believe me, if we had, we would have tried to do something about it.”

Sunday’s bombings ripped through Christian worshippers at church celebrating Easter and at hotels in Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern tip of India. The attacks killed at least 359 people and wounded some 500 others, marking Sri Lanka’s worst violence since its 26-year civil war ended a decade ago.

Authorities have blamed a local Islamic extremist group called National Towheed Jamaat, whose leader, alternately known as Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary speeches online.

On Tuesday, the Islamic State group asserted responsibility for the attack, sharing images of the leader and other men with their face covered before an IS flag to bolster its claim. The extremist group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made unfounded claims previously.

Asked about whether American officials received warnings or knew about the group and its leader before the bombings, Teplitz declined to comment, saying she would not discuss intelligence matters.

“If you look at the scale of the attacks, the level of coordination, again, the sophistication of them, it’s not implausible to think there are foreign linkages,” she said. She added that the U.S. believes “the terrorist plotting is ongoing” and said that’s why America continued to warn its citizens in Sri Lanka to be careful.

Prior to the bombings, Sri Lankan officials received intelligence reports and warnings that such an attack could be looming. However, that information failed to stop the assault.

Teplitz said the current political situation in Sri Lanka could have exacerbated that. President Maithripala Sirisena ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in October and dissolved the Cabinet, but Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court later reversed his actions.

“Certainly the fractious and fragmented political environment has not been good on a number of fronts,” Teplitz said.

She later added: “The Sri Lankans themselves have said they received information . and they had their own lapses that resulted in a failure to either mitigate or warn. So that’s incredibly tragic.”

Wickremesinghe has said some people might lose their job over the intelligence failures.

Teplitz also acknowledged that she heard “legitimate” concerns about civil rights in Sri Lanka after the government announced that it was allowing the military to conduct warrantless searches and hold prisoners for 14 days before bringing them before a judge.

“There is a legacy from that conflict era of human rights abuse, again an issue that the government here has been struggling to move past,” she said. “We definitely remain concerned about human rights here and democratic policing; the ability to respect people’s rights even in the midst of a crisis like this.”

Teplitz said the U.S. also was concerned that the bombings could spark reprisals targeting Muslims in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist-majority country of 21 million, which includes large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities, is rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict.

“I think the recognition that this could be a spark is out there and that there’s a pretty significant effort to try and blunt that,” Teplitz said.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6a1fd7d32c8b43048aa4b351c5e1ceb6 Ambassador: US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat JON GAMBRELL fox-news/us/religion fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fa630c60-7c31-501b-b702-75cd7d1e4642 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-6a1fd7d32c8b43048aa4b351c5e1ceb6 Ambassador: US had no prior knowledge of Sri Lanka threat JON GAMBRELL fox-news/us/religion fox-news/us/military fnc/us fnc fa630c60-7c31-501b-b702-75cd7d1e4642 Associated Press article

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Sri Lanka, like world, again sees scourge of suicide bombing

Westlake Legal Group sri-lanka-like-world-again-sees-scourge-of-suicide-bombing Sri Lanka, like world, again sees scourge of suicide bombing JON GAMBRELL fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 02a78716-0809-5c6e-9a44-8601440161f8

The deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka are a bloody echo of decades past in the South Asian island nation, when militants inspired by attacks in the Lebanese civil war helped develop the suicide bomb vest.

Government ministers have said seven Sri Lankans from a little-known local group carried out the six near-simultaneous bombings at churches and hotels that killed at least 290 people and wounded over 500. While little else was known about the group or their motives, Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger fighters used suicide bombing in the country’s 26-year civil war before being wiped out by government forces.

Similar bombs would then detonate across Israel, wielded by Palestinian militants, and later across the wider Middle East, Africa and Europe by Islamic extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Such attacks strike fear around the world because of their indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, like those eating breakfast at a hotel or worshipping in a church on Easter. Sunday’s assault also raises questions about whether the perpetrators had help or experience from abroad.

“I call today the age of the suicide bomber. This is very much a time of extreme acts that have to, in a way, usurp the previous attacks,” said Iain Overton, executive director of the London-based group Action on Armed Violence who wrote a book on suicide bombings. “They have to be much more devastating, more impactful, more hurtful, to get as much media headlines as possible.”

Experts put the first modern suicide bombing in 1881, when a radical killed Tsar Alexander II of Russia. What may be the first photographs of a suicide bomb vest came in the 1930s when China used them in its war against Imperial Japan around World War II. Japanese kamikaze pilots turned their own planes into weapons.

But the shock of the suicide bomber only struck the minds of many in the West in the 1980s with Lebanon’s bloody civil war. Suicide truck bomb attacks struck both the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, and later a U.S. Marine barracks, killing 231 American troops in the bloodiest day for the armed forces since World War II. The U.S. later would blame the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which formed out of Lebanon’s civil war, and Iran for the bombings. Both deny involvement.

At that time, however, a small contingent of Tamil fighters was receiving weapons training in Lebanon and took what they learned back to Sri Lanka, Overton said. Their first suicide attack in 1987, in which a bomb-laden truck drove into a Sri Lankan army barracks and killed 55, resembled the U.S. Marine barracks attack.

Over nearly 30 years of civil war, the Tamil Tigers would launch more than 130 suicide bomb attacks, making them the leading militant group in such assaults at the time. They killed a Sri Lankan prime minister and a former Indian prime minister among others, including bystanders. The war ultimately ended in 2009 with the government crushing the Tamil Tigers, with some observers believing that tens of thousands of Tamils died in the last few months of fighting alone.

But while the Tamils were secular nationalists, Islamic extremists in the Middle East would embrace the suicide bomb as a weapon. By the 1990s, Palestinian militants from both Hamas and Fatah would use suicide bombs against Israel. Then al-Qaida under Osama bin Laden would employ them against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and later against the USS Cole off Yemen.

Then came Sept. 11 and the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Up until then, there were some 350 suicide attacks worldwide from 1980, said Robert A. Pape, a political science professor at the University of Chicago who directs its Chicago Project on Security and Threats.

The U.S. war in Iraq followed, which fueled bloody sectarian violence that put it on the brink of civil war. Suicide bombers pounded the country. An al-Qaida branch there would morph into the Islamic State group, which would launch its own suicide attacks around the world.

Today, the number of suicide attacks since 1980 is around 6,000, Pape said, with around half in Iraq and Syria alone.

“When we invaded and conquered Iraq, we touched off the largest suicide terrorist campaign in modern times,” he said.

Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local Islamic group, National Thowfeek Jamaath, for the Easter attacks. However, there is no recent history of Muslim extremist attacks in Sri Lanka, a predominantly Buddhist island nation off the southern tip of India. Nor was there any explanation for how a group previously not known for violence could engineer such a massive attack, which experts said resembled an assault by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida.

“What they are seeking to push is this ISIS mantra, which is ‘We love death more than they love life,'” Overton said, using an alternate acronym for the militants. “It is the icon of a death cult.”

Since the Islamic State group has lost all the territory it once held across Iraq and Syria, there’s been more concern among nations about foreign fighters returning home. Sri Lanka’s justice minister told parliament in 2016 that 32 Muslims from “well-educated and elite” families had joined the Islamic State group in Syria. It’s unclear what happened to them.

“There weren’t many, but there don’t have to be many,” Pape said.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-2abe3f662f7c41f6893c5978fa9a29f7 Sri Lanka, like world, again sees scourge of suicide bombing JON GAMBRELL fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 02a78716-0809-5c6e-9a44-8601440161f8   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-2abe3f662f7c41f6893c5978fa9a29f7 Sri Lanka, like world, again sees scourge of suicide bombing JON GAMBRELL fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/asia fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/world/world-regions/africa fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world fox-news/us fnc/world fnc Associated Press article 02a78716-0809-5c6e-9a44-8601440161f8

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com