Entries in Assassination (14)


Syrian Air Force General Killed by Rebel Militant Group

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- A Syrian air force commander reportedly has been assassinated, according to Syrian state media.

State television reports say air force general Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khalidi died from fatal gunshot wounds late Monday, according to BBC News.  The attack was reportedly carried out by rebels in Syria's capital city of Damascus.

Al-Khalidi is said to have been one of Syria's top authorities on aviation, BBC reports.

The Free Syrian Army has claimed responsibility for the attack, and says the mission also resulted in the death of an air force intelligence official, according to Agence France Presse.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yemeni Defense Chief Survives Another Assassination Attempt

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANAA, Yemen) -- Yemen's defense minister escaped what appeared to be another attempt on his life Tuesday when a car bomb exploded in the capital city of Sanaa, killing at least 12 people.

Witnesses said that the explosion occurred alongside a convoy of vehicles used by Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed.

The Yemeni official was not harmed in the powerful blast that left seven of his bodyguards dead and killed five civilians.

There have been at least three other assassination attempts on Ahmed over the past year, including one targeting a military parade in Sanaa last May that killed nearly 100 soldiers and wounded 200 others.

While no one claimed responsibility for Tuesday's car bombing, suspicion immediately fell on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which lost its second-in-command, according to Yemeni authorities, during a U.S.-led drone strike in Yemen last week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Palestinians Accuse Israel of Fatally Poisoning Yasser Arafat

AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Israel was accused Tuesday of being behind the killing of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the most official accusation leveled against the Jewish state since Arafat's sudden and mysterious death in November 2004.

"We are accusing Israel of killing Yasser Arafat and poisoning him," said Tawfiq Tirawi, the head of the committee charged with investigating Arafat's death, at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. "We are asking for a trial for those who assassinated and poisoned Arafat."

Palestinians have long accused Israel of being behind the poisoning of the 75-year-old leader.

Many feel their suspicions were confirmed last week with the release of a documentary by the television network Al Jazeera that found "significant" levels of radioactive polonium on Arafat's personal effects, which his wife had given to the channel for examination by a Swiss forensics laboratory.

"Israel was not involved in the death of Arafat," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev told the Agence France-Presse. "All the medical files are in the hands of the Palestinians and it was not Israel who is preventing their publication."

The Arafat Foundation has now released the medical records online.

Arafat's nephew Nasser al-Qidwa, the head of the foundation, said there's "no longer any doubt" Arafat was "assassinated by poisoning."

The documentary revealed that Arafat was not tested for polonium at the French hospital where he died after being airlifted from the West Bank and that his cause of death was listed as "unknown."

Two years later Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and critic of Vladimir Putin, was famously killed with polonium in London.

"The French report said that specialized doctors were not able to find a reason or known illness that can explain the causes for the death," said Arafat's former doctor Abdullah al-Bashir on Tuesday. "They said that developments in the illness could not be explained in the framework of pathology … We are ready to work with the Swiss lab to take samples from Arafat's body," he added.

At the end of the film, Arafat's wife, Suha, called for the exhumation of his body for further investigation. The Palestinian Authority and Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, quickly supported the move, with a top Abbas aide saying it could happen "within days."

But on Tuesday, the Palestinian justice minister said no request had yet been made to exhume Arafat.

"The Palestinian people want to know the truth about Arafat's death," Tirawi said. "We should do everything to reach the truth."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Plot to Assassinate Russian PM Vladimir Putin Foiled, State TV Says

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russian and Ukrainian authorities say they have foiled a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

According to reports on Russian state-owned Channel One TV, two men were arrested in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, where they were allegedly learning to make homemade explosives.  The duo was said to have been planning to place mines along Putin's daily route to work sometime after the March 4 election, in which the prime minister is expected to win.

In interrogation videos that were aired on TV, the two men admitted to the plot.  One man appeared bloodied and confessed he was hired by the infamous Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Suspect Arrested in Serbian Prime Minister Assassination

Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images(MADRID) -- Authorities in Spain announced they have arrested a suspect wanted in connection with the 2003 assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

Vladimir Milisavljevic was arrested Friday, along with two other men, at a restaurant in Valencia, officials said. Milisavljevic had been sentenced in absentia by a Serbian court for his role in the assassination. Officials say the three men were members of a Serbian paramiliary group called Arkan's Tigers.

Luka Bojovic and Sinisa Petric were also arrested on murder-related charges.

Djindjic was shot by a sniper outside his party headquarters March 12, 2003. In 2007, a court convicted 12 men in the killing, including Milisavljevic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Officials Say Kim Jong Un Assassination Rumors Untrue

Dieter Depypere/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BEIJING) -- The Internet was abuzz with rumors Friday that North Korea’s newly installed leader, Kim Jong Un, was assassinated during a trip to Beijing, but U.S. officials are debunking the reports as not true.

Several U.S. officials contacted by ABC News said there was no validity to the reports that originated on a Chinese social media site and soon spread to Twitter.

“There’s nothing to this,” said one U.S. official, who added that there were no indications that the reports were true.

Another U.S. official said, “Our experts are monitoring the situation and we see no abnormal activity on the [Korean] peninsula and nothing that credits that tweet as accurate.”

North Korean troop movements on the North Korean side of the border are often an indicator that the country’s leadership is preparing for tense situations, much as what happened when Kim Jong Un assumed power late last year.

Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, saw a spike in traffic repeating uncorroborated reports that Kim had been assassinated during a visit to Beijing.

The story gained traction on Twitter with re-tweets of what appeared to be confirmation of the reports by two BBC Twitter accounts.  However, a BBC Web article reported those twitter handles were fakes and have since been closed.

Friday’s Internet rumors were not the first time that Kim has been the focus of social media rumors.  In early January, postings to Sina Weibo began to appear claiming that Kim had been overthrown in a military coup.  Since then, the Chinese government has been eliminating those postings from the site.  The same is happening with Friday’s rumors on the social media site.

There were also rumors that Kim Jong Un had ordered the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, the eldest of Kim Jong Il’s children, who was passed over as his successor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Sunni Vice President Accused of Ordering Assassinations

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Post-U.S. occupied Iraq is already undergoing its first major governmental crisis.

Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is facing an arrest warrant after being charged with overseeing a death squad that has allegedly assassinated government and security officials.

The Shiite leaders of Iraq said the accusations against al-Hashimi are based on the confessions of three men claiming to have worked for the vice president as bodyguards.

Their "confessions" broadcast on state-run TV allege they both planted and set off bombs in public squares as well as firing on convoys carrying Shiite officials.

One of the men claiming to work for al-Hashimi said he personally received $3,000 from his boss after carrying out an assassination.

Al-Hashimi's office has denied all the charges despite acknowledging that the men worked for him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran 'Ready to Study' Alleged Assassination Plot, Official Says

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran is "ready to study" allegations by the U.S. that elements of the Iranian government "directed" a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to America in or outside a crowded Washington, D.C. restaurant, Iran's foreign minister said Monday.

Washington has been trying to "mislead the world public opinion" against Iran, but the Middle Eastern nation is now "ready to study the case patiently, urging Washington to present any existing documents on the issue," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, paraphrasing Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi made the comments while warning Saudi officials to be "cautious towards such U.S. scenarios," IRNA said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week the DEA and FBI had disrupted a plot "conceived, sponsored and...directed from Iran" to murder the Saudi Arabian ambassador in the U.S. capital which potentially would have been followed up by bombings of the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies. The U.S. said an Iranian-American, 56-year-old Manssor Arbabsiar of Corpus Christi, Texas, was working for elements of the Iranian government -- specifically Iran's elite military unit the Quds force -- when he attempted to hire hitmen from the feared Zetas Mexican drug cartel to carry out the hit, but Arbabsiar was unwittingly speaking to a DEA informant from the start.

Iranian officials had previously said the alleged plot was nothing more than a "fabrication" and a "politically-motivated move" in a new wave of anti-Iranian propaganda.

However, top U.S. officials, including President Obama, said the U.S. is confident that the allegations made against Iran could be clearly backed up by evidence.

"We would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations," Obama said Friday.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said last week the U.S. had been in direct contact with Iran and had also briefed representatives for a number of other nations on the details of the alleged plot.

Nuland said Thursday that while the scheme seems "like something out of a movie... As you begin to give more detail on what we knew and when we knew it and how we knew it, it has credibility."

Obama said during his Friday address Iran "would pay a price" for their alleged actions -- even if it was not clear Iran's top leaders had participated in or were even aware of the alleged plot.

"Even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity," the president said. "The important thing is for Iran to answer the international community why anybody in their government is engaging in these kinds of activities."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Payback? Istanbul Assassination Victims Linked to Moscow Bombing

Vans of the Russian Emergencies Ministry wait outside Moscow's Domodedovo international airport on January 24, 2011, shortly after a suspected suicide bombing. ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- Two of the three suspected Chechen militants gunned down in what appeared to be a professional assassination in Istanbul last week shared a link to one of the deadliest terror attacks in Russian history.

Rustam Altemirov, who Turkish police said was shot by an assailant with a silenced pistol on the street in broad daylight last Friday along with two other men, was charged in absentia in June for his alleged role in the suicide bombing of Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January, according to Russia's state news organization.  The bombing killed 37 people and injured more than 100 more.

Another of the men killed in Istanbul, Berg-Khazh Musavei, was a reportedly "close associate" of Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov, the man who bragged in a video online that he was the one who ordered the Domodedovo bombing as well as an earlier deadly attack on Moscow's subway system.

The third victim in the shooting, Zaurbek Amriyev, has also reportedly been linked to Chechen anti-Russian operations.  All were killed the afternoon of Sept. 16 when the assailant fired 11 shots in less than 30 seconds from a silenced pistol, including several headshots, according to major Turkish news reports.

The Turkish reports said police received a tip Monday as to where the assailant was staying, but arrived just minutes after the killer slipped away.

But the supposed assassin left in such a hurry that his equipment -- including the silenced pistol, a night-vision camera and binoculars -- were left behind, as well as a passport identifying the suspect as a Russian citizen named Zharkov Alexander, the reports said.  Ballistic tests on the gun reportedly showed it was the one that had been used in the triple murder.

A Turkish official told ABC News Wednesday the country's intelligence service was investigating whether Alexander had any connection with the Russian government -- an accusation already leveled by Chechen rights groups and media, who said he was a spy for Russia's intelligence agency, FSB.

A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in the U.S. said that any implication the Russian government was somehow involved in the killing is "pure speculation having nothing [to do] with reality."

Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now ABC News consultant, said that whoever the killer is, he appeared to be a professional.

"This clearly looks like an organized kill... it doesn't have any flavor of a street crime," Garrett said.  "The silencer, that even adds to the belief that this was an execution... I would say he's somebody that was sent to do what he did."

As Turkish police continue to investigate the killing and chase down Zharkov, one Russian official involved in the North Caucuses offered a blunt opinion on the assassination to Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

"If those killed were really involved in suicide bombings, then everything that happened is a normal phenomenon in the war," Maxim Shevchenko, head of the working group for the North Caucasus of the Public Chamber, told the paper.  "They've declared war on the Russian state, and it is logical that the security services respond with a group of liquidators and cleansers."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Assassination Dims Peace Prospects

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The man who assassinated Afghanistan’s former-president-turned-peacemaker used an audio recording of a Taliban representative and the promise of a letter from Taliban leaders to set up the meeting in which he killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, according to Afghan officials.

The new details on how the bomber managed to convince Afghan officials to let him see Rabbani suggest he had direct access to the Taliban leadership council before he carried out the assassination. Thursday Afghanistan’s intelligence service used that information to suggest a political end to the war may not be possible -- a suggestion echoed by the U.S.’ ambassador in Kabul. Rabbani’s death “raises very serious questions as to whether the Taliban and those who support them have any real interest in reconciliation,” Ambassador Ryan Crocker said.

It’s not clear if that means the Afghan government or the United States will stop pursuing negotiations with the Taliban. U.S. officials have met a handful of times with a man they hoped was an emissary from the Taliban leadership council, but those talks have stalled, the officials say.

Before the fatal meeting, the bomber had met with Afghan officials at least half a dozen times, earning their trust and piquing their interest enough for them to call Rabbani to Kabul from a trip to Iran for an urgent meeting, Afghan officials say. President Hamid Karzai Thursday said he too had heard the audio recording that the bomber provided, which included “a couple of questions and suggestions mentioned regarding peace,” Karzai said.

Afghan and U.S. officials working on reconciliation have been hoping the Taliban would provide a list of demands that could jumpstart negotiations, and it seems they believed this man could be the one to provide that list. In addition to the audio recording -- from a brother of a former deputy Taliban minister -- the bomber also said he had a letter that he needed to personally hand over to Rabbani. Afghan officials recovered the blood-stained “letter” from the bomber’s pocket and say it was clearly a fake, including grammatical mistakes that a native speaker of Pashto -- the language spoken by Taliban’s leaders -- would not make.

Kabul’s diplomatic area is under heavy security Thursday. Rabbani will be buried Friday, on top of a hill where the Soviet army built an Olympic-size swimming pool (though never filled it with water) and where the Taliban used to execute their political enemies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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