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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 245)

The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike

Video

transcript

Video Shows Aftermath of U.S. Strike That Killed Top Iran Commander

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. But we caught him in the act. We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_166605342_bb1d07c1-25be-4a96-8815-857e98b24a47-videoSixteenByNine3000 The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Khamenei, Ali Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Baghdad International Airport (Iraq) Baghdad (Iraq)

President Trump authorized the attack early Friday at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.CreditCredit…Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg News

President Trump said Friday afternoon that the airstrike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the powerful Iranian commander, was ordered “to stop a war” and prevented attacks on Americans.

“Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” he said, speaking to reporters from his resort in West Palm Beach, Fla. “We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war.”

Mr. Trump said the United States is not seeking regime change in Iran, but called for Tehran’s “aggression in the region” to immediately end. He also warned Iran against retaliating, saying, “If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary.”

He added, “that in particular refers to Iran.”

The airstrike directed by Mr. Trump dramatically ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Tehran, and Iran’s leaders quickly promised retaliation for the general’s killing.

Around the time of the overnight strike, a Special Operations unit based in the United States boarded transport aircraft bound for the Middle East, one Defense Department official said.

The deployment of the elite Army Rangers was the latest to the region. This week, the Pentagon readied 4,000 troops based at Fort Bragg, N.C., for a similar security mission to Kuwait. They are to depart in the coming days, joining 750 troops already deployed, officials said.

“The brigade will deploy to Kuwait as an appropriate and precautionary action in response to increased threat levels against U.S. personnel and facilities,” a Department of Defense spokesperson said.

General Suleimani, a powerful strategist who represented Iran’s influence across the region, was killed by an American drone at Baghdad’s airport, in an attack that had been authorized by President Trump.

Iraq’s Parliament planned to hold an emergency session over the weekend to address the airstrike, which Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi called “a brazen violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a blatant attack on the nation’s dignity.” A powerful Iraqi militia leader was also killed.

The strike, regarded by analysts as perhaps the riskiest American move in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, threatened to inflame hostilities across the region.

Iran’s United Nations ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, called the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani “an act of war,” and vowed that it would be met with “revenge, a harsh revenge.”

“Last night, they started a military war by assassinating, by an act of terror, one of our top generals,” Mr. Takht Ravanchi said during an appearance Friday on CNN. “We cannot just remain silent. We have to act and we will act.”

Asked if Iran would act militarily, Mr. Takht Ravanchi said: “That’s for the future to witness.”

In the hours after the American strike, thousands of pro-Iranian social media accounts went to work.

Accounts on Twitter and Instagram tagged the White House with death threats and posted images of President Trump with a severed head and coffins covered in the American flag, alongside the hashtag Operation Hard Revenge.

It was not clear whether the activity was the work of actual accounts or state-backed bots, according to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. But they tweeted pro-Iranian, anti-American content at a rate of 3,000 tweets every 45 minutes, according to New York Times data.

The social media activity may just be an opening salvo, experts said.

Iran may begin a digital campaign of cyberattacks and disinformation in retaliation for General Suleimani’s death, they said. Tehran’s most likely target, the experts added, would be the American private sector.

Over the past year, Iranian hackers have taken aim at Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. They have also targeted telecom companies, infrastructure systems and more than 200 oil, gas and heavy machinery companies around the world.

The hackers have “developed the ability to disrupt critical infrastructure and they already have the ability to wipe data,” said James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. “But they’ve gone well beyond that now. The question is what services — pipelines? dams? — will they target now.”

Iran is still not “at the top of the league” of countries with the ability to cause widespread destruction via cyberattacks, Mr. Lewis and other experts said. But Tehran is much further along than American officials gave it credit for in 2009, when a classified intelligence assessment concluded that it had the motivation to inflict harm, but lacked the skills and resources to do so.

Since 2010 — when an Iranian nuclear facility was the target of a joint American-Israeli cyberattack — Tehran has embraced such attacks as part its strategy of “asymmetrical warfare.” While Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps may never match the West in conventional warfare, its specialized teams have learned how much destruction they can cause to vulnerable systems, according to American intelligence assessments and private security researchers.

Over the past five years, American officials and cybersecurity experts have tracked Iranian hackers as they have significantly advanced their capabilities beyond wiping data to sophisticated attacks on financial networks, internet infrastructure, energy companies — and, even more disconcerting, sites like the Bowman Dam in Westchester County and the Energy Department’s Idaho National Engineering Laboratory near Idaho Falls.

“They now have the ability to do serious harm,” Mr. Lewis said. “As the conflict with the U.S. continues, they’re going to be tempted. Expect to see a lot more testing of how far they can get into company networks, universities, federal networks and smaller government networks in towns and cities.”

An apparent airstrike hit a convoy belonging to a medical unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces near the town of Taji north of Baghdad early Saturday, killing at least four people, according to an official with the force.

The bodies were charred and not immediately identified, but were not believed to include senior leaders.

A United States military spokesman said he knew of no new American military action in Iraq.

Iranian leaders issued strident calls on Friday for revenge against the United States after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in an overnight airstrike at the Baghdad airport.

His death is a considerable blow to Tehran, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for retaliation and for three days of national mourning.

“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” the supreme leader said in a statement.

Iran’s security body also pledged to avenge General Suleimani’s killing in the “right place and time,” saying it had reached a decision on how to do so.

The American strike spurred mass displays of public mourning by Iran and its network of allies across the Middle East. Iranian officials said the general’s body would be taken on a funeral procession around Baghdad, and that a funeral would be held for him in Tehran on Sunday.

On Friday, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter about the strike, saying that General Suleimani “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more … but got caught!”

General Suleimani was the head of the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades.

The general’s prominent role meant that his death could have a ripple effect in any number of countries across the Middle East where Iran and the United States compete for influence.

Westlake Legal Group sat-airport-900 The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Khamenei, Ali Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Baghdad International Airport (Iraq) Baghdad (Iraq)

Baghdad

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Suleimani was in

a vehicle struck

by two missiles as

his convoy exited the airport.

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Westlake Legal Group sat-airport-600 The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Khamenei, Ali Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Baghdad International Airport (Iraq) Baghdad (Iraq)

Baghdad

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Suleimani was in a vehicle struck by two missiles as his convoy exited the airport.

airport st.

Westlake Legal Group sat-airport-335 The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Khamenei, Ali Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Baghdad International Airport (Iraq) Baghdad (Iraq)

Baghdad

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Suleimani was in a vehicle struck by two missiles as his convoy exited the airport.

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The New York Times; satellite image by Maxar via Bing.

The strike was carried out by an MQ-9 Reaper drone that fired missiles on a convoy of vehicles leaving the airport. Several other officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran were also killed.

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The United States has long been at odds with Iran over its nuclear program and influence in Iraq and other countries in the region. Those tensions have surged under the Trump administration.

The strike on Friday was the latest escalation between the two nations after a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, believed to have been carried out by an Iran-backed militia, killed an American contractor in December.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_128266949_6734f689-770c-40a7-8640-0a5d3fdfe31a-articleLarge The Killing of Gen. Qassim Suleimani: What We Know Since the U.S. Airstrike United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United States Trump, Donald J Suleimani, Qassim Khamenei, Ali Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Iran Defense and Military Forces Deaths (Fatalities) Baghdad International Airport (Iraq) Baghdad (Iraq)

Gas flares at an oil field in Kirkuk. Oil prices jumped on Friday after the news of the general’s killing.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The State Department urged American citizens to leave Iraq immediately following the strike that killed General Suleimani in Baghdad, citing “heightened tensions.”

Oil prices jumped on Friday after the news of the general’s death: The price of Brent oil, the international benchmark, surged in the early hours of Hong Kong trading to nearly $70 a barrel — an increase of $3.

The immediate increase in the price of oil was among the largest since an attack on a critical Saudi oil installation in September that temporarily knocked out 5 percent of the world’s oil supply.

By 11 a.m. in London, the price of Brent crude oil was at a three-month high of $69.20 a barrel. International oil companies based in the southeastern Iraqi city of Basra have begun evacuating American employees, according to Al Arabiya news outlet.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 each opened about 1 percent lower on Friday, while oil company shares rose, with Exxon Mobil up 1.3 percent and Chevron up 1.2 percent in premarket trading.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had spoken to top diplomats in Britain, China and Germany on Friday about what the State Department described as President Trump’s recent decision to carry out the strike “in response to imminent threats to American lives.”

Mr. Pompeo also told his foreign counterparts that the United States was committed to de-escalation, according to the State Department. Mr. Pompeo posted several statements and a video on Twitter that he said showed Iraqis “dancing in the street.”

“This was a man who has put American lives at risk for an awfully long time,” Mr. Pompeo said on Friday on CNN. “Last night was the time that we needed to strike to make sure that this imminent attack that he was working actively was disrupted.”

He declined to provide more details about the looming attack.

One American official familiar with the internal discussions about the drone strike said the administration was still trying to figure out what would come next.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the backlash over General Suleimani’s death could be even more fraught than the tensions after an American raid in 2011 that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, who was part of a stateless group and had no international support.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a diplomat from Switzerland, which represents American interests in Iran to maintain communication, had delivered a message from the United States to the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran on Friday concerning the death of General Suleimani. It did not elaborate.

“Given the latest events in the region, Switzerland invites both parties to avoid any escalation,” the ministry said.

As the leader of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which leads Iran’s operations abroad, General Suleimani, who was 62, was the country’s top security and intelligence commander. He was behind nearly all military and intelligence operations orchestrated by Iran in the past two decades and directed Iran-backed militias in the fight against the Islamic State.

American officials have also accused him of causing the deaths of hundreds of soldiers during the Iraq war and he was believed to have played a central role in orchestrating Iran’s support for the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

In Iran, General Suleimani was a respected political figure among hard-liners and was close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. To many Iranians, he was also a war hero, after becoming a commander while he was only in his 20s during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

The general’s deputy succeeded him within hours, according to Iranian news agencies, with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointing Brig. Gen. Ismail Qaani as leader of the Quds Force on Friday.

General Qaani, 62, had been the force’s deputy commander since 1997, according to Reuters.

The United States Treasury Department put General Qaani on a blacklist in 2012 for what it called “financial disbursements” to various terrorist groups, including Hezbollah.

Large crowds gathered for Friday Prayer in Iran and filled public squares with mass protests, while officials met privately to plot strategy and leaders vowed to avenge General Suleimani’s death.

Images broadcast on Iranian state television showed thousands of supporters of General Suleimani gathered in mourning outside his house in the southeastern town of Kerman, and in other cities.

“The great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime,” President Hassan Rouhani wrote on Twitter.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the strike an “act of international terrorism.”

Iran was working with Iraqi officials to repatriate the general’s body for a funeral service, perhaps as soon as Saturday, a number of Iranian journalists reported.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also held an emergency meeting on Friday, which the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attended. The council issued a statement after the meeting saying it had reached a decision on how to respond to the killing, but did not say what that decision was.

“America must know the criminal attack on General Suleimani was its worst strategic mistake in the Middle East and that America will not escape the consequences easily,” the statement read. “As our supreme leader said in his message, a harsh revenge awaits the criminals who have the general’s blood on their hands. These criminals will face revenge at the right time and place.”

In Iraq, the strike appeared likely to accelerate calls for the departure of American troops. Along with General Suleimani, it killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of a powerful militia that is backed by Iran but under the umbrella of the Iraqi military.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi of Iraq praised Mr. al-Muhandis and General Suleimani as heroes in the fight against the Islamic State and condemned their killing as a violation of sovereignty.

Friday’s strike in Baghdad also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia leader who was one of Iran’s top lieutenants in Iraq and a veteran of battles against the United States and the Islamic State.

Born Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, he was better known by his nom de guerre and gained prominence as mostly Shiite militias formed to fight the Islamic State in 2014. But he was a powerful force in Iraq for years, and his death alone would have sent shock waves through the country.

In 2009, the United States Treasury Department designated Mr. al-Muhandis a “threat to stability in Iraq” and accused him of helping smuggle rockets, sniper rifles and other weapons into the country from Iran.

Long before the Iraq war, he was accused of playing a role in the bombings of French and American Embassies in Kuwait in 1983, and the later attempt to assassinate Kuwait’s emir.

Much of Mr. al-Muhandis’s history remains murky, including his exact age: He would have been about 66 or 67 at the time of his death, according to the United States government, which has said he was born in 1953 in Basra, Iraq.

Mr. al-Muhandis fled Iraq with the rise of Saddam Hussein and spent years in exile in Iran, cultivating close ties with Iranian officials, becoming fluent in Persian and keeping a home in Tehran. He returned to Iraq in the aftermath of the American invasion in 2003 and briefly served in Iraq’s Parliament before dropping out of public view.

He helped found a militia that fought against the United States, and was accused of training and equipping a network of anti-American groups. The militia has continued to oppose the United States, and American officials blamed it for the rocket attack that killed an American contractor last week.

In a reflection of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq and the region, it was only five years after the Treasury Department put sanctions on Mr. al-Muhandis that he found himself effectively on the same side as the United States. The invasion of Iraq by the Islamic State from Syria gave his militia, Iran and the United States a common enemy.

Iranian allies across the Arab world condemned the United States, reflecting the strength of the regional network General Suleimani spent much of his life building, including links to the government of Syria and militant groups in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere.

The leader of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party that General Suleimani helped build, vowed in a statement that his group would continue on the path the general set and “work night and day to achieve his goals.”

It was the responsibility of all resistance fighters to seek “just retribution” against “the most evil criminals in the world,” the leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said, meaning the United States.

In Yemen, the administration run by the Houthi rebels, who have received support from Iran in their war against Saudi Arabia, condemned the United States strike as a “cowardly attack” that “makes clear the increasing American spite against all who are in favor of justice for the Islamic world.”

In Syria, where General Suleimani oversaw a huge effort to shore up the government of President Bashar al-Assad, a foreign ministry official condemned the “treacherous, criminal American aggression” that led to his killing, the state news agency SANA reported on Friday.

António Guterres, the United Nations’ secretary general, voiced his deep concern over the recent rise in tensions in the Middle East, his spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in a statement.

“The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf,” the statement read. “This is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint.”

The killing of General Suleimani “most likely” violated international law, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial executions, said in a post on Twitter.

“Use of lethal force is only justified to protect against an imminent threat to life,” Ms. Callamard wrote. Use of drones for targeted killings outside active hostilities was “almost never likely to be legal,” she added.

Many experts also said on Friday that the strike probably ended any prospect of negotiations to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the landmark nuclear agreement Iran signed in 2015 with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. The recent escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran began with the 2018 decision by President Trump to withdraw from the deal.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the killing of General Suleimani “an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region,” according to local news agencies.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for restraint on all sides, “especially the United States.”

“China has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” the spokesman, Geng Shuang, said at a daily news briefing, according to news agencies.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, called on Friday for a de-escalation in tensions and said that further conflict in the region was not in his country’s interest.

“We have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qassim Suleimani,” Mr. Raab said in a statement. “Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate.”

Federica Mogherini, the European high representative for foreign and security policy, said on Twitter that the general’s killing was “an extremely dangerous escalation.”

In France, the country’s junior minister for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, said that she would soon consult with countries in the region.

“We have woken up to a more dangerous world,” Ms. de Montchalin told French radio, calling for “stability and de-escalation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel cut short an official visit to Greece to return to Israel on Friday after the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Before boarding the plane, Mr. Netanyahu praised President Trump for “acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively.”

General Suleimani, a longtime adversary of Israel, was credited with overseeing many attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets and he was linked with an attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in the 1990s. More recently, he was behind military actions from Syria, across Israel’s northern frontier.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian coastal territory of Gaza, condemned what it called “U.S. bullying” that it said served the interests of Israel.

It offered condolences to Iran on the death of General Suleimani, saying in a statement that he had “played a major and critical role in supporting Palestinian resistance at all levels.”

Bassem Naim, a spokesman for the group, said on Twitter that the assassination “opens the doors of the region to all possibilities, except calm & stability.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that the administration brief the full Congress on the strike and the next steps under consideration, noting that the move was made without lawmakers’ consultation or an authorization of military force.

Ms. Pelosi spoke with Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, Thursday night after the attack, an aide said, but was not given advance notice.

The strike, Ms. Pelosi said in a statement late Thursday evening, “risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America — and the world — cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.”

In stark contrast, Republican lawmakers — including both Iran hawks and those who have frequently clashed with Mr. Trump over his foreign policy — have almost uniformly praised the move.

“Will there be escalation? Yes. But the escalation is not on our part,” Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who was stationed twice in Iraq with the Air Force, told CNN. “We’re finally responding to continued provocations by Iran.”

The strike immediately spurred debate among American lawmakers about President Trump’s war powers and left congressional leaders sharply divided along party lines.

Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, accused Mr. Trump of bringing the nation “to the brink of an illegal war with Iran.”

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said on Twitter that Mr. Trump had “exercised admirable restraint” and added that the Quds Force were “entirely to blame.”

Reporting was contributed by Ben Hubbard, Farnaz Fassihi, Megan Specia, Isabel Kershner, Ronen Bergman, Lara Jakes, Eileen Sullivan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Elian Peltier, Catie Edmondson, Benjamin Mueller, Alan Yuhas, Nick Cumming-Bruce, Nicole Perlroth, Ben Decker and Joan Nassivera.

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Dana Loesch: It’s disturbing that gun control advocates find properly trained, armed civilians ‘bad’

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225753555320000 Dana Loesch: It's disturbing that gun control advocates find properly trained, armed civilians 'bad' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 743c185b-1b93-5c4e-bc93-9db0e8a37035

Radio host and Second Amendment advocate Dana Loesch responded to critics of Jack Wilson, the Texas church congregant who killed an armed intruder during services last week.

Loesch said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Friday that gun control advocates and some media outlets are misguided to claim Wilson was in the wrong when he stopped the intruder, who killed two people at the church in White Settlement before he was killed by Wilson.

Host Tucker Carlson noted Arizona Republic columnist Elvia Diaz wrote in USA Today that she was “terrified” at the prospect so many civilians in the church were carrying guns.

He also played a clip of now-former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro claiming in September 2019 that “more guns are not the answer” to firearm violence.

USA TODAY HIT FOR OP-ED CLAIMING IT WAS ‘TERRIFYING’ THAT TEXAS CHURCHGOERS WERE ARMED

“This idea that a good guy with a gun is going to stop a bad guy with a gun, it doesn’t work that way,” the former San Antonio mayor claimed.

On Diaz’s column, Loesch remarked that she found it “horrifying” that the columnist would make such a claim.

“I find it horrifying that anyone at USA Today would actually find it horrifying to save lives, to defend innocent people,” she said. “My actual fear is that people find this bad.”

“Five other people [inside the church] also drew their lawfully carried, lawfully owned firearms and they held, they watched and waited and took in everything that was happening before them, which indicates a level of training and a skill set that shouldn’t horrify people,” she continued.

“In fact, it should encourage individuals because we were always told that if there is more than one firearm present in an area such as this, if there is a mass casualty incident or somebody armed comes into do murderous intent, that it would turn into the Wild West. It didn’t. It took Jack Wilson one shot and six seconds to neutralize this threat.”

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Loesch said it was important that armed civilians exercise their Second Amendment rights, be properly trained, and be prepared to defend themselves in dangerous situations.

“[W]e should encourage and empower people to do so instead of trying to shame them or smear them or malign their character. I find that disturbing,” she continued.

Loesch also pointed to the state of Maryland, claiming gun control laws passed in the state over the last 15 years have been part and parcel of the exponential spike in violence in the state’s largest city — Baltimore.

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225753555320000 Dana Loesch: It's disturbing that gun control advocates find properly trained, armed civilians 'bad' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 743c185b-1b93-5c4e-bc93-9db0e8a37035   Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225753555320000 Dana Loesch: It's disturbing that gun control advocates find properly trained, armed civilians 'bad' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime fox-news/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 743c185b-1b93-5c4e-bc93-9db0e8a37035

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US men’s soccer team cancels Qatar training camp after Soleimani death

Westlake Legal Group kit-usmnt-pi.vresize.940.529.high_.0-da10be8e8eabc510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ US men's soccer team cancels Qatar training camp after Soleimani death Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/sports fnc article 75553572-5709-516f-b18e-0696276df271

The U.S. men’s soccer team announced Friday that it had canceled plans to train in Qatar later this month following the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in an American drone strike.

“Due to the developing situation in the region, U.S. Soccer has decided to postpone traveling to Qatar for the Men’s National Team scheduled January training camp,” the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement. “In the meantime, we are working on alternative arraignments in preparation for the match against Costa Rica on February 1 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.”

CNBC CRITICIZED FOR REFERRING TO SOLEMANI KILLING AS AMERICA TAKING OUT ‘THE WORLD’S NO. 1 BAD GUY’

“We are working with the Qatar Football Association to find an opportunity in the near future for our team to experience Qatar’s world-class facilities and hospitality,” the statement concluded. Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, and the U.S. will begin playing qualifying matches for that tournament later this year.

Tensions remain high at home and abroad after President Trump ordered a drone strike on Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Trump defended his actions Friday and claimed America is a safer place following Soleimani’s demise.

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“Qassem Soleimani masterminded Iran’s reign of terror for decades, including the deaths of hundreds of Americans,” he said.

“Tonight, he got what he richly deserved, and all those American soldiers who died by his hand also got what they deserved: justice. America is safer now after Soleimani’s demise.”

Westlake Legal Group kit-usmnt-pi.vresize.940.529.high_.0-da10be8e8eabc510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ US men's soccer team cancels Qatar training camp after Soleimani death Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/sports fnc article 75553572-5709-516f-b18e-0696276df271   Westlake Legal Group kit-usmnt-pi.vresize.940.529.high_.0-da10be8e8eabc510VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____ US men's soccer team cancels Qatar training camp after Soleimani death Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/sports fnc article 75553572-5709-516f-b18e-0696276df271

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Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George appear in rare, new portrait

The royal family is ringing in the new decade with a rare portrait featuring Queen Elizabeth and three heirs.

The portrait, taken by Ranald Mackechnie and released on Friday, shows the British monarch along with Prince George, 6, Prince William, 37, and Prince Charles, 71, in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace.

According to People magazine, it was taken just before the Queen’s annual Christmas luncheon on Dec. 18.

PRINCE WILLIAM LAUNCHES PRESTIGIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE TO PROTECT THE PLANET IN THE NEXT DECADE

A statement from the royal family’s official social media accounts, which shared the image, read: “To mark the start of a new decade, a portrait has been released of Her Majesty The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and Prince George. The portrait was taken by Ranald Mackechnie in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace.”

QUEEN ELIZABETH REMEMBERS ‘QUITE BUMPY’ YEAR IN ANNUAL CHRISTMAS ADDRESS

This is the second time a portrait featuring the Queen and the next three in line to the throne has been published.

Westlake Legal Group AP20003613060083 Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George appear in rare, new portrait Mariah Haas fox-news/world/personalities/will fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4a992496-bf26-5e53-97ea-71ccb2aa09b5

In this file handout photo provided by Buckingham Palace and released in 2016, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George pose for a photo to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, London.  (Ranald Mackechnie/Buckingham Palace via AP)

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The first portrait was released in April 2016. It marked the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Westlake Legal Group AP20003565690292 Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George appear in rare, new portrait Mariah Haas fox-news/world/personalities/will fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4a992496-bf26-5e53-97ea-71ccb2aa09b5   Westlake Legal Group AP20003565690292 Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George appear in rare, new portrait Mariah Haas fox-news/world/personalities/will fox-news/world/personalities/queen fox-news/world/personalities/british-royals fox-news/topic/royals fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 4a992496-bf26-5e53-97ea-71ccb2aa09b5

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White House Withholds 20 Emails Between Two Trump Aides on Ukraine Aid

Westlake Legal Group ssTCe7RIjb5KYy_BUdH-isjFLwiEylp2fD6mqOHAn-o White House Withholds 20 Emails Between Two Trump Aides on Ukraine Aid r/politics

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For Trump, a Risky Decision Other Presidents Had Avoided

WASHINGTON — President Trump was deep in discussion with political advisers going over campaign plans at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida just before 5 p.m. on Thursday when he was abruptly summoned to another meeting. A while later he returned just as mysteriously, jumping back into the conversation without offering a clue to what was going on.

In those few minutes, according to multiple people briefed on the events, Mr. Trump had made one of the most consequential foreign policy decisions of his presidency, giving final authorization to a drone strike halfway around the world that would eliminate one of America’s deadliest enemies while pushing the United States to the edge of an escalating confrontation with Iran that could transform the Middle East.

The military operation that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian security and intelligence commander responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops over the years, was unlike the ones that took out Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, terrorist leaders caught after long manhunts. General Suleimani did not have to be hunted; a high-ranking official of the Iranian government, he was in plain sight for years. All that was required was a president to decide to pull the trigger.

Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama never did. Mr. Bush’s administration made a conscious decision not to kill General Suleimani when he was in the cross hairs and Mr. Obama’s administration evidently never made an effort to pursue him. Both reasoned that killing the most powerful general in Iran would only risk a wider war with Iran, alienating American allies in Europe and the Middle East and undermining the United States in a region that had already cost plenty of lives and treasure in the last two decades.

But Mr. Trump opted to take the risk they did not, determined to demonstrate after months of backing down following previous Iranian provocations that he would no longer stand by while General Suleimani roamed freely. “He should have been taken out many years ago!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday.

The question was why now? “This guy has been killing Americans in Iraq since 2003,” said Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org and an Iraq war veteran. “I was in one of his attacks in Taji in 2011. They were dropping 240-millimeter rockets on us. So this is not a surprise that he’s involved in killing Americans.”

“But the question is what was different last night?” he added. “The onus is on Trump to prove something was different, or this is no different than another weapons of mass destruction play.”

Aides said Mr. Trump was angry about a rocket attack last week by forces linked to Tehran that killed an American civilian contractor and stewed as he watched television images of pro-Iranian demonstrators storming the American Embassy in Baghdad in the days that followed, neither of which would normally result in such a seemingly disproportionate retaliation.

But senior officials said the decision to target General Suleimani grew out of a new stream of Iran threats to American embassies, consulates and military personnel in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. General Suleimani had just left Damascus, the Syrian capital, where he was planning an “imminent” attack that could claim hundreds of lives, officials said.

“We’d be negligent if we didn’t respond,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Friday in his Pentagon office. “The threat of inaction exceeded the threat of action.”

Still, officials offered scant details and only general explanations for why these reported threats were any different than the rocket attacks, roadside bombings and other assaults carried out by General Suleimani’s Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps over the years. “Size, scale and scope,” General Milley said without elaboration.

National security experts and even other officials at the Pentagon said they were unaware of anything drastically new about Iranian behavior in recent weeks; General Suleimani has been accused of prodding Shiite militias into attacking Americans for more than a decade.

The drone strike came at a fraught time for the president, who faces a Senate trial after being impeached by the House largely along party lines last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. While advisers insisted politics had nothing to do with the decision, the timing was bound to raise questions in an era marked by deep suspicion across party lines.

General Suleimani was not a particularly elusive target. Unlike bin Laden or al-Baghdadi, he moved about quite freely in a number of countries, frequently popping up meeting with Iranian allies or visiting front-line positions in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. He traveled with an air of impunity. His fans distributed photographs of him on social media, and he occasionally gave interviews. One former senior American commander recalled once parking his military jet next to General Suleimani’s plane at the Erbil airport in northern Iraq.

“Suleimani was treated like royalty, and was not particularly hard to find,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior C.I.A. operations officer with extensive counterterrorism experience overseas. “Suleimani absolutely felt untouchable, particularly in Iraq. He took selfies of himself on the battlefield and openly taunted the U.S., because he felt safe in doing so.”

That public profile made him the face of the Iranian network across the Middle East, the so-called Axis of Resistance, which includes groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen and a range of militias in Syria and Iraq who share Iran’s animosity toward Israel and the United States. General Suleimani wanted to show that he could be anywhere and everywhere, an American official said, knowing he could be a target but obsessed with proving he had his hand in everything.

If General Suleimani acted untouchable, for years he was. One night in January 2007, American Special Operations commandos tracked him traveling in a convoy from Iran into northern Iraq. But the Americans held their fire and General Suleimani slipped away into the darkness.

“To avoid a firefight, and the contentious politics that would follow, I decided that we should monitor the caravan, not strike immediately,” Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the head of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, recalled in an article last year.

Until now, Mr. Trump had shied away from military action against Iran too. While he talked tough after Iran was blamed for various attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trump declined to use force, at one point even calling off a planned airstrike with only 10 minutes to go.

An American official who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations said the president’s advisers worried that he had indicated so many times that he did not want a war with Iran that Tehran had become persuaded the United States would not act forcibly. But the official acknowledged that the strike was a huge gamble and could just as likely prompt an outsize reaction from both Iran and Iraq.

Westlake Legal Group iraq-embassy-baghdad-airport-attack-1578026455663-articleLarge-v6 For Trump, a Risky Decision Other Presidents Had Avoided United States Special Operations Command Trump, Donald J Terrorism Targeted Killings Suleimani, Qassim Defense and Military Forces central intelligence agency Baghdad (Iraq)

Maps: How the Confrontation Between the U.S. and Iran Escalated

Here’s how the situation developed over the last eight days.

The operation culminated three years of rising tension since Mr. Trump took office and followed through on his pledge to withdraw from the nuclear agreement that Mr. Obama brokered with Iran in 2015. As part of a “maximum pressure” campaign, Mr. Trump reimposed sanctions on Tehran to strangle its economy while Iran tested the American president with a string of provocative actions.

The mission to target General Suleimani was set in motion after a rocket attack last Friday on an Iraqi military base outside Kirkuk killed an American civilian contractor, according to senior American officials. The military’s Special Operations Command spent the next several days looking for an opportunity to hit General Suleimani. Military and intelligence officials said the strike drew on information from secret informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance tools.

The option that was eventually approved depended on General Suleimani’s arrival at Baghdad International Airport. If he was met by Iraqi officials, one American official said, the strike would be called off. But the official said it was a “clean party” and the strike was authorized.

Mr. Trump, who was spending the holiday season at Mar-a-Lago, participated in multiple meetings on the operation and aides said that he did not struggle with the decision, unlike over the summer when he changed his mind citing possible civilian casualties. “It was a very straightforward decision by the president to make the call on this,” Robert C. O’Brien, his national security adviser, told reporters.

As late as Thursday, officials were still weighing other less inflammatory options, including strikes against Iranian ships, missile batteries or militias in Iraq, one official said. But aides noted that Mr. Trump has grown wary of warnings that bold actions will result in negative consequences since in some cases those have not materialized, notably in his trade war.

The president kept the discussions to a tight circle that included Mr. O’Brien; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Defense Secretary Marc T. Esper; Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director; Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff; and Eric Ueland, the president’s legislative liaison. Left out of the loop was the White House communications operation.

Mr. Pompeo has been one of the administration’s most persistent Iran hawks and the public face of the sanctions campaign against Iran since Mr. Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement brokered by Mr. Obama.

As a congressman, Mr. Pompeo assailed the former secretary of state Hillary Clinton over the deadly attack on an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and he has been obsessed with embassy security in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, according to former officials and associates. The violent protests in recent days at the Baghdad Embassy spooked the secretary, officials said, prompting him to cancel an important trip to Ukraine.

The administration did not offer a legal justification for the strike but appeared to be relying on the claim that it was a matter of self-defense under international law and pursuant to the president’s constitutional powers as commander in chief. “We had the right to self-defense,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The strike was particularly unusual in that it targeted a top official in a national government. Since the late 1970s, an executive order has banned “assassinations.” But that constraint, while still in place on paper, has eroded in the fight against terrorism. Legal teams under presidents of both parties have argued that the term “assassination,” which is not defined by federal law or the order, does not cover killing terrorists and other people deemed to pose an imminent threat to the United States because that would instead be self-defense.

Against that backdrop, it may be relevant that last year, Mr. Trump designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization — the first time that the United States had so designated part of another nation’s government.

However the lawyers rationalized it, General McChrystal, who passed on taking the shot at General Suleimani 13 years ago, said Mr. Trump was right to take it now. “The targeting was appropriate given Suleimani’s very public role in orchestrating Iranian attacks on the U.S. and our allies,” he said in an email.

But the general added a somber warning: “We can’t consider this as an isolated action. As with all such actions it will impact the dynamics of the region, and Iran will likely feel compelled to respond in kind. There is the potential for a stair-step escalation of attacks and we must think several moves ahead to determine how far we will take this — and what the new level of conflict we are prepared to engage in.”

Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from Palm Beach, Fla. Edward Wong and Charlie Savage contributed reporting from Washington, and Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon.

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Sen. James Risch on Soleimani kill: Trump ‘did what he had to do’

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225700265750000-1 Sen. James Risch on Soleimani kill: Trump 'did what he had to do' fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/us-regions/west/idaho fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 814a3e5b-31cd-582c-a8a5-3db9bcbb741d

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch, R-Idaho, defended President Trump’s decision to order the drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

The Story” host Martha MacCallum reported that shortly before Risch joined the program, an Iraqi official claimed five people were killed in a new airstrike that targeted vehicles carrying members of an Iranian-backed militia. She asked Risch if he had been briefed on the report and if he had any information for the public.

Risch said he did have information about the latest reported airstrike, but added that he would wait to share it with the American people until it is declassified or released in a formal statement.

FLASHBACK: CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER COMPARES IRAN POLICIES OF TRUMP, ‘SUPINE’ OBAMA

“The actual attack took place about an hour and 45 minutes ago,” he said, “But, look, the president acted on very specific information that he had that came from the intelligence agencies. That information was rock-solid.”

Risch said Trump is not customarily inclined to take offensive action or risk military escalation, but that he “had to do what he had to do” when he ordered Thursday’s deadly drone strike on Soleimani at the Baghdad International Airport.

“This president hates doing this sort of thing. He doesn’t like doing kinetic attacks,” he said. “We hope that the Iranians will step back, take a breath, and understand they have been escalating this for a long time.”

Risch said that if Trump took no action Thursday and Soleimani orchestrated new attacks, Democrats and critics would bash the president for not taking out the Iranian officer.

He added that he is certain America is safer thanks to the airstrike against Soleimani and that critics in the media are simply spreading “vitriol” against the president as they routinely do.

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In that regard, MacCallum played a clip of author and liberal journalist Jonathan Alter, who said on MSNBC that Soleimani “deserved” to be droned, but that it was an example of the “right decision, wrong commander-in-chief.”

“The hate and the vitriol amongst most of the Democrats and, for that matter, some — not all — of the national media, there is no bounds to this,” Risch said in response, going on to call some of Trump’s critics “deranged,” and claiming they will never give him credit for any action.

Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225700265750000-1 Sen. James Risch on Soleimani kill: Trump 'did what he had to do' fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/us-regions/west/idaho fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 814a3e5b-31cd-582c-a8a5-3db9bcbb741d   Westlake Legal Group ENC3_132225700265750000-1 Sen. James Risch on Soleimani kill: Trump 'did what he had to do' fox-news/world/world-regions/iraq fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/us/us-regions/west/idaho fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/shows/the-story fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc Charles Creitz article 814a3e5b-31cd-582c-a8a5-3db9bcbb741d

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Carlos Ghosn Was Aided in Flight From Japan by Former Green Beret

Westlake Legal Group 03ghosnjapan-1-facebookJumbo Carlos Ghosn Was Aided in Flight From Japan by Former Green Beret Renault SA Nissan Motor Co Japan Ghosn, Carlos Fugitives cameras

TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn was aided in his escape from Japan by an American security consultant who accompanied him on the flight out of the country, a person familiar with the matter said, while a Turkish charter jet company said on Friday that its planes were used illegally to pull off the plan.

The Japanese news media also reported on Friday that surveillance camera footage showed the disgraced auto industry mogul leaving his Tokyo home by himself on Sunday, a day before he turned up in Beirut, Lebanon.

With the new details, a clearer — if still imperfect — picture is emerging of how Mr. Ghosn, Japan’s most prominent criminal defendant, managed to evade authorities. The American consultant, a former United States Green Beret named Michael Taylor, was introduced to the disgraced auto executive by Lebanese intermediaries months ago, said the person, who asked not to be identified to discuss a sensitive issue.

Turkish media outlets have reported that Mr. Taylor and another American were the only people listed as passengers on a manifest for the flight that carried Mr. Ghosn from Japan to Turkey. On Friday, MNG Jet, an aircraft charter company, said one of its employees had falsified records to remove Mr. Ghosn’s name from the official documentation for two flights.

Taken together, the disclosures paint a picture of a dash across Japan to a waiting plane. Still, most of the details of his getaway remain unconfirmed by authorities in Japan, Turkey or Lebanon.

Mr. Ghosn — who has maintained that he is innocent — was facing four charges of financial wrongdoing in Japan and was set to go on trial sometime this year. But he escaped instead, saying that he did not trust what he called the “rigged” Japanese justice system to give him a fair trial. He built and once ran the Nissan-Renault auto alliance, one of the world’s biggest car-making empires, but was arrested in November 2018.

News outlets in Turkey reported this week that Mr. Ghosn left on a plane from Osaka, Japan, late Sunday aboard a business jet and landed at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. He then switched planes and flew to Beirut, the reports said.

Mr. Taylor, a former member of an Army Special Forces team, works as a security consultant. He was once hired by The New York Times to assist in the rescue of David Rohde, then a Times reporter, who was kidnapped by militants in Afghanistan and held for seven months in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Mr. Rohde ultimately escaped on his own in June 2009.

Mr. Taylor was indicted in 2012 for his role in a plan to obstruct a federal fraud investigation into bid rigging of Defense Department contracts. He served time in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, but the government returned $2 million that had been taken from him, as well as two Land Rovers, according to court records.

Mr. Taylor’s involvement in Mr. Ghosn’s escape was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The news accounts of Mr. Ghosn’s flight match the records of a Bombardier business aircraft operated by MNG Jet that took off from Osaka just after 11 p.m. local time and landed in Istanbul about 12 hours later, according to data from FlightAware, a flight tracking service.

MNG Jet said it had no indication the two flights were connected. It said that it filed a criminal complaint in Turkey on Wednesday and that it “hopes that the people who illegally used and/or facilitated the use of the services of the company will be duly prosecuted.”

The company said the employee who falsified flight records had confessed to acting alone, without management’s knowledge. MNG Jet did not disclose the employee’s name.

Five people — four pilots and MNG Jet’s operations manager — have been sent to pretrial detention by a Turkish court, according to local media reports, and an official at the ground services provider Havas said prosecutors had released two of its employees.

The jet company has also transported gold out of Venezuela, helping the government there in its efforts to raise cash, according to Caracas Capital, an investment bank that has been tracking the gold shipments. The movement of MNG’s jets through Venezuela were confirmed by online flight trackers.

MNG is the “go-to company if you want to have something done,” said Russ Dallen, the managing partner at Caracas Capital.

It is not clear how Mr. Ghosn, who was under heavy surveillance in Tokyo, eluded the authorities and make his way to Osaka, which is roughly 300 miles west of Tokyo.

In Japan on Friday, news outlets reported that Mr. Ghosn walked out of his Tokyo home alone on Sunday but never came back. The news reports cited anonymous sources with knowledge of footage of the cameras surrounding his rented house in a central district of the city.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Mr. Ghosn, after leaving his home, met up with a group that helped his escape to Lebanon, according to the national broadcaster NHK and the economic daily Nikkei Shimbun.

The footage described in the news reports was from security cameras installed in front of the two-story house in the city center, the outlets reported. Three surveillance cameras had been installed above the doorway of Mr. Ghosn’s house as part of a bail agreement that placed tight restrictions on his movements.

Amie Tsang contributed reporting from London. Jack Begg contributed research.

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Heidi Klum opens up about ‘amazing’ return to ‘AGT: The Champions’: ‘The whole audience chanted my name’

Westlake Legal Group HeidiKlum1 Heidi Klum opens up about 'amazing' return to 'AGT: The Champions': ‘The whole audience chanted my name’ Julius Young fox-news/person/heidi-klum fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5e23ad8d-a0d1-53a4-85fb-378869fe2edc

Heidi Klum made her return to “America’s Got Talent” in a huge way.

The model spoke with Entertainment Tonight ahead of the premiere of the upcoming “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” season and raved about making her return to the franchise after leaving the program in 2018.

“It feels so good to be back and everyone has been so amazing,” Klum said of returning to the judge’s table. “You know, there were welcome signs everywhere, the whole audience was chanting my name. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I was going beet red.”

HEIDI KLUM TALKS ‘MAGICAL’ WEDDING TO TOM KAULITZ

“It was just really sweet,” she continued. “I didn’t expect it for everyone to be this welcoming.”

Klum said she couldn’t contain herself when one performer left her “mind blown,” prompting the 46-year-old to press her coveted golden buzzer – though she wouldn’t spill the beans on which contestant it was for.

DWYANE WADE SAYS GABRIELLE UNION WAS FIRED FROM ‘AGT,’ PRAISES WIFE FOR ‘STANDING UP FOR WHAT SHE STANDS FOR’

“I’m like, ‘How come this person is not a star already that we have not heard of this person yet again?'” she recalled. “I’m actually so honored and proud that I got to push my buzzer for this person and hopefully help them launch it or go to the next step.

“I mean fingers and toes crossed that my golden buzzer is gonna win this thing,” Klum added, noting: “I know I’ve said it before, but this time mark my words – this is it.”

SOFIA VERGARA MET WITH ‘AGT’ EXECS ABOUT OPEN JUDGE SPOT: SOURCE

Klum’s return to “AGT: The Champions” will mark a reunion with Howie Mendel and Simon Cowell. She’ll also be joining Alesha Dixon, a newcomer to the American version of the show.

Dixon has served as a judge on the British iteration since 2012. She credited that experience for allowing her to get acclimated to the role “pretty quickly”

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“I’m kind of learning everyone’s personalities and character traits,” Dixon said. “They’re all super easy and the blend is nice, because you never know when you put a panel together like how the chemistry is gonna be.”

“America’s Got Talent: The Champions” makes its season two return on Jan. 6 on NBC.

Westlake Legal Group HeidiKlum1 Heidi Klum opens up about 'amazing' return to 'AGT: The Champions': ‘The whole audience chanted my name’ Julius Young fox-news/person/heidi-klum fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5e23ad8d-a0d1-53a4-85fb-378869fe2edc   Westlake Legal Group HeidiKlum1 Heidi Klum opens up about 'amazing' return to 'AGT: The Champions': ‘The whole audience chanted my name’ Julius Young fox-news/person/heidi-klum fox-news/entertainment/tv fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 5e23ad8d-a0d1-53a4-85fb-378869fe2edc

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With a War Against Iran Brewing, Don’t Listen to the Hawks Who Lied Us Into Iraq

Westlake Legal Group mlhyWNylv4b5uTRrRUzmRjzmLiDpiBJABf690wnvgbQ With a War Against Iran Brewing, Don’t Listen to the Hawks Who Lied Us Into Iraq r/politics

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