Entries in Americans (28)


Missing California Cyclists Found on a Boat in South America

Facebook(NEW YORK) -- A young California couple thought to be missing for a month while on a cycling trip through South America has been located on a boat and were surprised to hear of the search for them, according to Peru's tourism ministry.

The couple was found on a slow-moving boat and are expected to arrive at the Ecuador and Peru border Wednesday, where they will have access to a phone, according to Miguel Antezana, the communications director of Peru's Foreign Commerce and Tourism Ministry.

The families and friends of Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal, both 25, had been concerned about the couple ,who had not been heard from in over a month.

The couple was found on the Napo River at a place called Angoteros, according to Antezana. There, they spoke to the police and were surprised by all of the questions. They eventually asked what was going on and the police told them that they were considered missing persons.

The ministry is sending people with video cameras to the location where the boat is going to dock to show that they are alive and well.

Antezana said that it appears that the couple simply did not want to communicate with their families because they could have done so in Iquitos.

Earlier Tuesday, Hand's mother told Good Morning America that the family had checked his bank records and found there was no bank activity since Jan. 25, the same day as the couple's last Facebook post.

"How is my son traveling without getting any money?" Francine Fitzgerald asked. "How is my son eating?"

The couple embarked on their journey at the end of November, or early December.

As the couple cycled through the continent, they frequently posted updates and photos on Facebook, chronicling their journey. They posted photos of camping, the wildlife and the people they met along the way.

The last post was on Jan. 25 and said, "Finally found Kraft Mac 'n' cheese in South America! Stoked LOL." The couple had not been heard from since, which worried their families and friends.

"They would post sometimes several times a day, pictures telling us where they were and then we all noticed that his postings stopped," Fitzgerald said on Good Morning America.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Americans Slip From Minnesota to Somali Terror Group, FBI Says

File photo. SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Young American men continue to slip through a terrorist recruiting pipeline from the homeland to join the ranks of jihadists half a world away in East Africa, with two going as recently as three months ago, according to federal officials.

The FBI confirmed that in July two young men disappeared from their neighborhoods in Minneapolis and are believed to have traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, the embattled al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.

Under "Operation Rhino," for years the FBI has been investigating what has been described as a recruiting pipeline from the Twin Cities, which boast large Somali immigrant populations, to Somalia. Both top U.S. officials and at least one prominent member of al-Shabaab said Americans account for dozens of the terror group's fighters. A 2011 congressional report put the number around 40.

"Minnesota represented!" writes American-born rapping jihadist Omar Hammami in an autobiography posted online in May, though he claimed most of the U.S. recruits were already dead. "Those Minnesota brother[s] have almost all left their mark on the [jihad] and most have received martyrdom, while the rest are still waiting."

Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for the FBI's Minneapolis field office, said recruits going to Somalia from Minnesota "continues to be a matter of grave concern and the FBI remains fully committed to resolving this situation."

Al-Shabaab has suffered several recent defeats at the hands of African military forces and lost its final urban stronghold in Somalia earlier this month. But Western and Somali security experts told ABC News they are concerned such defeats may tempt the terror group into abandoning insurgency in Somalia for a renewed focus on international terrorism.

An African Union official said there is worry that the same fighters driven out of Somalia could launch attacks abroad, from Kenya and Uganda to the U.S.

During congressional testimony in January, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listed al-Shabaab as one of the most significant terror threats to the homeland, in part due to a "foreign fighter cadre that includes U.S. passport holders... [who] may have aspirations to attack inside the United States."

U.S. Special Representative for Somalia James Swan told reporters last month that al-Shabaab's recent losses caused some of the terror group's foreign fighters to flee, but Swan did not know if that meant they were abandoning jihad or simply heading to a different al Qaeda-affiliated group in another country such as Yemen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Three Americans Missing from Cruise Ship Found by Jamaican Police

File photo. Victor Sokolowicz/Bloomberg News(OCHO RIOS, Jamaica) -- Three Americans who failed to return to their Carnival Cruise ship after a stopover in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Thursday, were found safe and unharmed this afternoon at a villa in Discovery Bay -- approximately 40 minutes west, on Jamaica's northern coast.

The three passengers, whom the cruise line earlier identified as members of the same family, went missing after disembarking the Carnival Freedom for a day-long port call in Ocho Rios, the cruise line said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Jamaican authorities had classified the disappearance as a missing persons case, saying it was odd that the family took all of their belongings off of the ship before vanishing. The family has no known ties to anyone in Jamaica.

It was not immediately clear why the family left the ship and never returned. They are in the custody of Jamaican police and will be questioned about their mysterious departure. Police have not yet said whether charges will be brought against the three passengers.

The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last Sunday for a six-day cruise. It is scheduled to return on Saturday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two Americans Kidnapped in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

iStockPhoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: The two American tourists who were kidnapped in Egypt this week were released on Thursday, ABC News has confirmed.

(CAIRO) -- Two Americans tourists been kidnapped in Egypt.

The American embassy in Cairo tell ABC News the two men were kidnapped Wednesday evening in the lawless Sinai peninsula.  They were reportedly driving north from the Red Sea resort town of Dahab when they were taken by armed Bedouin tribesmen, who are now demanding the release of another tribesman arrested earlier this week with a large quantity of drugs.

The embassy said they were working closely with the Egyptian authorities to secure the men's release, but declined to give further details because of privacy concerns.

Col. Majdi Musa, the head of police intelligence in the Sinai, told the semi-official Al Ahram newspaper that the two men were born in 1981 and confirmed their names and passport numbers, which had been reported earlier.

The father of one of the men, who asked ABC News not to disclose their names, said, "We're hoping and praying for their safe return and it's just too early to know any further details."

Egyptian reports said the men are being held in a mountainous area called Ras al-Shaytan, translated as "head of the devil."  They were driving from Dahab to Nuweiba when their minibus was stopped.  They were reportedly then transferred to two cars, according to the driver, who said the tribesmen told them not to worry, that they had demands of the Egyptian government.

The kidnappers are demanding the release of a man named Eid Suleiman Atiwai, who was arrested with a large quantity of drugs on Tuesday.

Lawlessness has risen dramatically in the Sinai, particularly since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.  Kidnappings by Bedouins have become more frequent, and they are also known to traffic in guns and drugs.  Al Qaeda is known to operate in the remote region, though they are not believed to have been involved with this kidnapping.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egypt Begins Prosecution of Americans on Illegal Fundraising Charges

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the US National Democratic Institute. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Before a trial that alleges as many as 19 Americans guilty of receiving illegal funding from foreign governments goes too much further in Egypt, the Obama administration is trying to work out a deal with the country.

Even before the trial got underway on Sunday, U.S. and Egyptian officials were discussing ways to work out an equitable solution that won't also affect the $1.3 billion aid package Cairo receives annually from Congress.

The Americans belong to non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, which aim to help Egypt transition to a democracy after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last February.

According to the State Department, the charges brought against the NGOs and 43 pro-democracy activists are fallacious and an attempt to intimidate groups that have issues with the military council currently leading Egypt ahead of elections this spring.

As of now, the charges against the NGOs have widespread support among the population, giving them less of a reason to cut a deal with the U.S.

The prosecution is demanding that the Americans, some of whom sought refuge inside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, be jailed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Americans Love Canada, Poll Shows

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the eyes of Americans it’s hard to be more popular than Canada. In Gallup’s annual favorability ratings, no country scored better than America’s neighbor to the north.

“A whopping 96% of Americans have a generally favorable view of Canada, while 3% view it unfavorably,” Gallup reported on its website. “The favorable rating is the highest Gallup has measured for any country in more than 20 years of asking this question.”

Rounding out the top three most favorable countries were Australia and Great Britain, with 93 and 90 percent of Americans having a high opinion of each, respectively.

Bringing up the rear were Afghanistan (14 percent), North Korea (13 percent) and Iran (10 percent).

“Iran is the least well-regarded country measure this year, with 10% of Americans viewing it favorably and 87% unfavorably.” Gallup wrote. “Americans’ favorable ratings of Iran have been consistently low since Gallup’s first measurement with this question in 1989, mostly registering around 10% but with a range from 5% (in1989) to 17% (in 2004).”

Iran may be perennially unpopular, but only China suffered a substantial decline in favorability, falling from 47 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2012.

While China’s favorability waned in the eyes of Americans, Cuba and Egypt saw the biggest increase year to year, each improving by seven percentage points. Cuba went from 30 to 37 percent, and Egypt climbed from 40 to 47 percent.

2012 Favorability Toward Countries:

1. Canada – 96%
2. Australia – 93%
3. Great Britain – 90%
4. Germany – 86%
5. Japan – 83%
6. France – 75%
7. India – 75%
8. Israel – 71%
9. Greece – 62%
10. Mexico – 51%
11. Russia – 50%
12. Egypt – 47%
13. Saudi Arabia – 42%
14. China – 41%
15. Cuba – 37%
16. Libya – 25%
17. Iraq – 24%
18. The Palestinian Authority – 19%
19. Syria – 17%
20. Pakistan -15%
21. Afghanistan – 14%
22. North Korea – 13%
23. Iran – 10%

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Tourists Kidnapped in Egypt

iStockPhoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: Two elderly American women kidnapped in Egypt were released Friday, hours after they were seized by Bedouin gunmen, Egyptian government TV reported.

(CAIRO) -- Two American tourists were kidnapped by gunmen Friday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to the BBC. The pair has yet to be identified, but the BBC reports they are women.

The two were reportedly traveling in a small bus near St. Catherine’s Monastery when the vehicle was stopped by armed assailants.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Alyoum reported three other tourists were left behind. Their nationalities were not immediately known.

The U.S. Embassy has not yet released a statement.

Earlier this week, Bedouins kidnapped 25 Chinese workers in Sinai. They were released unharmed the following day.

In recent months, Egypt has seen an uptick of violence as the security situation deteriorates. This comes as thousands of protesters in Cairo begin to march on the Ministry of Interior building to protest this week's violent soccer stadium riots that left at least 74 people dead. Soccer fans blame the violence on the lack of security at the game. Four people have died so far Friday in clashes.

Since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the country's tourism industry has taken a hit, with revenues plunging nearly 30 percent in the last year. Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said last month that the number of tourists who came to Egypt in 2011 dropped to 9.8 million from 14.7 million the previous year. Revenues for the year clocked in at $8.8 billion compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Negotiating Release of American Writer in Somalia

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Days after the rescue of a U.S. aid worker held hostage in Somalia, officials are now working on the release of an American writer taken captive by pirates and now under the threat of death.

The writer was only supposed to be in the country for a few weeks to work on a book on piracy, though he’d reportedly been warned of the dangers he faced. On Saturday, he was grabbed by heavily armed men who’d overpowered his security.

At his family’s request, ABC News is withholding his name because relatives believe identifying him would increase his value to his abductors. A U.S. official told ABC News Friday that there was great concern for any American held hostage, but that there was hope the writer would be released unharmed.

The kidnapping occurred days before American aid worker Jessica Buchanan and Danish colleague Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, were rescued by SEAL Team 6 in a daring mission at a remote encampment deep in northern Somalia.

Buchanan is currently at a U.S. base with her family, but her rescue early Wednesday seemed to put the American writer in greater danger.

“If they try again, we will all die together,” a spokesman for the pirates said. The pirates have changed locations three times.

A U.S. official told ABC News Friday that the United States was aware of the writer’s abduction when Buchanan was rescued.

“We did know but could not find any links or collusion between the two groups holding the hostages,” the official said Friday.

Early last year off the coast of Oman, four Americans were hijacked aboard their yacht. The FBI was negotiating their release when pirates launched a rocket-propelled grenade at a nearby U.S. ship.

A team of Navy Seals tried to rescue the Americans, but all four -- two couples from California and Washington -- were killed.

In 2010, 13 months after they were kidnapped by Somali pirates, British pair Paul and Rachel Chandler were released following the payment of an undisclosed ransom.

“That anger I felt that they were so cruel, so callous, just so despicable,” Rachel Chandler said at the time. “You have to find a way of dealing with that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Says Terrorist Attack Against Americans in Kenya is 'Imminent'

U.S. State DepartmentUPDATE: At least one person was killed and approximately 10 were injured after someone tossed a grenade at a bus station in Nairobi, the Kenyan Red Cross said Monday. The attack comes less than 24 hours after a grenade attack targeted a bar in the country’s capital city.

(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- Americans in Nairobi, Kenya have been warned of an imminent terrorist attack, most likely by al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group based in Somalia.

According to the U.S. Embassy, al-Shabaab may be seeking retaliation after Kenyan troops were recently sent over the border to battle Islamic militants.

Embassy officials said that foreigners should stay away from malls and nightclubs where security is generally lax.  In addition, Americans are advised to skip travel to Kenya for the time being.

Al-Shabaab, which is trying to impose its own form of strict Sharia law on Somalia, is being blamed by Kenya for the abductions of foreign tourists and aid workers.  The group has mainly stayed within Somalia although it did launch two deadly attacks on restaurants in Uganda that killed 74 people in July 2010.

Meanwhile, a grenade attack that wounded 13 people in a nightclub early Monday morning did not appear related to the threat from al-Shabaab.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Issues Travel Alert Warning Americans after Foiled Terror Plot

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Following the disruption of an alleged Iranian-linked plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S., the State Department has issued a travel alert, warning about the possibility of "anti-U.S. actions."

"The U.S. government assesses that this Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian Government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States," the department said.

The warning was released Tuesday, the same day news surfaced that FBI and DEA agents reportedly foiled the plot to kill Adel Al-Jubeir.  Officials say bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C., as well as bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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