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Entries in SEALs (3)

Tuesday
Dec062011

‘World’s Loneliest Seal’ Thrives in New Home

The seal in her new home at the Akvatoria dolphinarium. (Photo: http://nafanya-sochi.ru)(ADLER, Russia) -- After being shunned by a seal colony in the wild, the “world’s loneliest seal” is being given a second chance after being taken in by a Russian aquarium.

The seal now dubbed Nafanya, after a popular Soviet-era cartoon, initially gained fans after being spotted by nature photographer Anatoly Strakhov. The photographer noticed the unusually colored fur seal hiding under a pile of logs, far from the other seals that had congregated near the water.

“I was pleased to be able to capture such an unusual animal, but the poor seal is almost blind and so was unlikely to survive in the wild,” Strakhov, 61, told the UK’s Daily Mail.

However, Nafanya is now thriving after she was flown nearly 8,000 miles to the Akvatoria dolphinarium in Adler, Russia, according to the Daily Mail. Yulia Frolova, who heads the dolphinarium, says that Nafanya is not as blind as initially thought and is able to play with and chase her fish at feeding time.

“She has a good appetite, and always seems in a happy mood. She is such an unusual seal with very beautiful bright blue eyes,” Frolova told the Daily Mail.

Fur seals are typically a dark chocolate brown, and appear almost black when wet -- a sharp contrast from this young seal’s pink flippers and light-colored eyes.

“It’s a much lighter color than you would normally see in a fur seal,” said Dudley Wigdahl, curator for mammals and birds at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif. Wigdahl, told ABC News he has never seen a seal with this coloring before.

Albino features often create problems for animals in the wild because they are more easily spotted by predators. Sometimes these animals also suffer from poor eyesight. However, in the protective setting of an aquarium, Nafanya’s albino features should not be a disadvantage.

“[She] may live a relatively healthy life,” Wigdahl said.

While Nafanya is currently in quarantine, the pup will not be considered the “loneliest” seal for much longer. Along with her devoted caretakers, Nafanya is gaining international followers due to a webcam installed in her tank.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Osama Bin Laden Raid: Al Qaeda 'Playbook' Revealed

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. intelligence is now in possession of a veritable "playbook" of al Qaeda operations -- from potential terror attack targets to information on international safe houses and top commanders -- thanks to the Navy SEAL raid that took down Osama bin Laden Sunday, officials told ABC News on Friday.

The cache of electronic and handwritten materials includes numerous hallmark al Qaeda plots including attacks on infrastructure targets such as water supply and transportation including rail and air. In the past, al Qaeda planned for attacks on water supplies have included an interest in mining dams and in poisoning water supply. In the days since the SEAL raid, intelligence experts have also have found what appears to be information about safe houses around the world and about al Qaeda leadership.

It is unclear just how active bin Laden was in coordinating any operations or in blessing overall strategies and plots. What is clear, officials said, is that intelligence analysts see weeks ahead of data mining and linking the cache of materials to past knowledge of plots that has come from detainees, cases and various forms of intercepts and surveillance.

While as yet no specific plots have been uncovered, there is a clear interest in attacks on the for most prominent U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The materials make clear that while at times in the past it has been suggested that dates are not a factor in Al Qaeda attack planning, in fact, one of the terror group's aspirations was to launch attacks on symbolic dates like Sept. 11, in hopes of giving even greater resonance to any success.

A bulletin issued Thursday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News describes the terror organization's chilling desire to derail a train on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time." Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Unarmed When Killed, White House Says

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden was not armed when he was shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEALs during a daring raid on his compound in Pakistan, the White House said today.

"We were prepared to capture him if that was possible," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. But even though bin Laden was not carrying a weapon, Carney said he had "resisted" and several people in the compound were armed and firing at the American special operators.

"Resistance does not require a firearm," Carney said.

When the SEALs entered the room in which bin Laden was hiding, his wife charged them and was shot in the leg, Carney said. Bin Laden was then shot in the chest and head.

"U.S. personnel on the ground handled themselves with the utmost professionalism," he said. "[Bin Laden] was killed in an operation because of the resistance they met."

The decision to kill, rather than capture, came from commanders on the ground, Carney said.

Officials initially said that bin Laden had been among several people in the compound who took up arms and engaged in a firefight with the SEALs.

President Obama's counterterror chief John Brennan also initially said that bin Laden used one of his wives as a human shield and the woman was killed in the gun battle. That has turned out to be incorrect and officials attributed the mistake to the confusion that usually accompanies a fast-moving gun battle, or "the fog of war."

In a photograph released by the White House, the President and his top advisors – including a visibly tense Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – are shown watching a screen very intently in the White House Situation Room. What was on the screen at the time is not clear, but CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Public Broadcasting Service that Obama was not watching the Navy SEALs helmet-cam footage that showed the shots that took Osama down.

Like the White House's Situation Room, screens in both the Pentagon and the CIA were showing real-time footage of the compound – possibly footage from a circling drone -- creating not one, but three incredibly tense rooms in the highest echelons of U.S. security.

The operation began when two U.S. helicopters flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound where bin Laden was thought to be hiding late Sunday night Pakistan time, or Sunday afternoon Washington time.

Two teams of SEALs slid down fast-ropes from the helicopters as soon as they were in position and stormed the compound. One of the helicopters stalled and made a hard landing just outside the walled compound before the SEALs stormed in. The Navy SEAL team on this mission was supported by helicopter pilots from the 160th Special Ops Air Regiment, part of the Joint Special Operations Command.

After what Carney called a "volatile" firefight, the SEALs killed bin Laden and at least four others with him. The SEALs alerted the White House through the cryptic phrase "Geronimo-E KIA" code. "E" stood for enemy and "KIA" for killed in action.

"Once those teams went into the compound, I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes that we really didn't know just exactly what was going on. There were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information. But finally Adm. [William] McRaven came back and said he had picked up the word 'Geronimo,' which was the code word that represented they got bin Laden," Panetta told PBS.

The SEALs words, however, were not sufficient proof that the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks was finally dead. As the evidence piled up -- verbal ID, face recognition analysis and DNA matches -- the White House debate continued.

Obama ended the discussion with a terse, "We got him."

Before they left, the SEALs gathered a trove of evidence from among bin Laden's personal possessions, from computer hard drives to CDs and papers. U.S. intelligence analysts are expected to pour over the information in coming days, hoping to turn information kept by the al Qaeda leader against the entire terror network.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio