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Thursday
Apr072011

FBI Has Interviewed 800 Libyans About Terror Threat

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Armed with scripted questions, FBI agents from ten major field offices including New York, Detroit, and Denver have fanned out across the country and interviewed more than 800 members of the Libyan community to determine if there is any threat of terror attacks against American targets because of U.S. military action in Libya.

The outreach campaign, which started several days ago, was addressed Wednesday by FBI Director Robert Mueller, who said the FBI is interviewing Libyans who live in the U.S. to be "on guard" against any possible terror attacks from Libya or to locate any Libyan agents operating inside U.S. borders.

"We want to make certain that we are on guard for the possibility of terrorist attacks emanating somewhere out of Libya," said Mueller, appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, "whether it be Gadhafi's forces or, in eastern Libya, the opposition forces who may have amongst them persons who in the past have had associations with terrorist groups."

According to officials the outreach included approaches to Libyans in the U.S. on student visas. In some cases students were of specific concern because their core studies were in areas that could have direct application to the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. The agents have approached students off campus, and all interviews conducted have been voluntary.

At the outset of military operations against Libya, U.S. officials expressed concern that Gadhafi could launch revenge attacks against the U.S. or European nations. Last month, John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Gadhafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community."

Officials say one reason for the interviews is Libya's prior involvement in terror attacks like the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Asked whether there might also be danger from Libya's anti-Gadhafi rebels because of rumored ties between some factions and terror groups like Al Qaeda, Mueller said he did not know who those individuals with alleged terrorist links might be. "I'm not certain at this point that anybody really does," said Mueller. "This is an ongoing effort by us at the same time as the State Department and the [Central Intelligence] Agency and others to identity individuals who may be part of the opposition."

Mueller also told the committee that the FBI has concerns about former Gadhafi officials who have defected to the opposition. Said Mueller, "There may well be intelligence officers who are operating with different types of cover in the United States. We want to make sure we've identified these individuals to ensure no harm comes from them, knowing they may well have been associated with the Gadhafi regime."

FBI agents began interviewing large numbers of Libyan U.S. residents earlier this week in regions served by 10 field offices, including New York, Newark, Denver, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Detroit. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement Tuesday that reminded individuals of their civil rights when they are contacted by law enforcement but also noted, "American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Apr072011

Anti-Tank Missile From Gaza Hits Israeli School Bus

Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- It was a violent afternoon along the Israeli-Gaza border Thursday as Gaza militants fired over 40 rockets and mortars on Israel. At least one was shot down for the first time by Israel's newly-deployed anti-missile defense system, Iron Dome.  But in a trend that worries Israel, Palestinian militants have started to use very accurate anti-tank missiles against Israeli civilian targets. Thursday they aimed and hit a school bus, critically injuring a teenager.

The anti-tank missile fired by Gaza militants tore through the back of an Israeli school bus.  Almost all of the 50 kids had already gotten off, but the last passenger, a 16-year-old boy, suffered serious head injuries from the blast. Doctors say they're fighting to save his life. The driver was moderately injured. The Israeli army swiftly responded with tank fire and air strikes in Gaza that killed one 50-year-old Palestinian civilian and wounded at least nine others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

7.4 Magnitude Quake Strikes Japan, Tsunami Warning Issued

UPDATE: The earthquake has been downgraded to a 7.1 magnitude - more information as it becomes available.

(TOKYO) — A strong aftershock, a 7.4 earthquake, hit off the ravaged northeast coast of Japan Thursday, touching off a tsunami warning. ABC’s Neal Karlinsky felt it in Tokyo and described what he felt. “A very strong aftershock. I’ve been here nearly three weeks and felt a great many earthquakes approaching six-magnitude. This was by fat the strongest and it lasted a really long time. I was on the phone with colleagues in New York during the entire quake and it was going on for five minutes.”

There have been hundreds of aftershocks from last month’s big 9.0 quake.

“I can tell you that I am very disoriented. I sat here on the eighth floor of our hotel on the phone with colleagues for at least five or six minutes while this earthquake shook the building back and forth. It swayed back and forth quite violently and for an incredibly long period of time,” says Karlinsky. 
  
The quake was centered in the same place as the big one last month, but Japanese broadcaster NHK reports the nuclear plant at Fukushima is not in any more danger than it already is. 

Thursday
Apr072011

Over a Dozen Dead, Injured After School Shooting in Brazil

ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images(RIO DE JANEIRO) -- At least 13 people are dead and 22 others injured after a shooting at an elementary school in Rio de Janeiro Thursday, according to Brazilian officials.

The Globo television network reports that the gunman, Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, was a former student of the school and was able to enter the building by saying he was going to give a lecture.  Upon entering, the 23-year-old gunman went up to the third floor where he opened fired using two guns, which he reloaded several times.

Police responded to the scene after seeing children running away from the school.

Twelve children between the ages of nine and 14 were killed in the shooting.  The gunman also died, although it is unclear at this point if he took his own life or was shot by authorities.  Police did say, however, that he left a letter stating he intended to kill himself.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Secretary Gates Explains Military Pay During Shutdown to Troops in Iraq

ABC News(BAGHDAD) -- Speaking to a group of 200 soldiers in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Robert Gates drew Army cheers of “Hooah” from the crowd when he eased their concerns about the pending government shutdown and said, “First of all, let me say you will be paid.”

Gates’ comment came during a question-and-answer session when one of the soldiers asked him how the government shutdown might affect them.  He then joked, “As a historian it always occurred to me the smart thing for government was always to pay the guys with guns first.”

Turning serious, he explained to them how if there is a government shutdown the troops in the field would get half a paycheck for this pay period, but would get back pay in the future.

“But in all seriousness, based on some stuff I read this morning, if the government shutdown starts on [April 8] and goes for a week, you’d get a half a check.  If it goes from the 15th to the 30th, you wouldn’t get a paycheck on the 30th but you would be back paid for all of it.  So that’s the deal and I’m, you know, frankly, I remember when I was your age I did a lot of living from paycheck to paycheck and so I hope this thing doesn’t happen.”

Later speaking to reporters, Gates explained that if the shutdown goes through the 30th then they’d miss a pay check.  But he explained how a shutdown would affect their families at home more than it would those serving in the field.

“Now they get paid in rear, obviously, so over time they won’t lose anything, but you all know as well as I do, a lot of these young troops live pretty much paycheck to paycheck.  And I start to think about the inconvenience that it's going to cause these kids and a lot of their families, even half a paycheck delayed can be a problem for them so I hope they work this whole thing out,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Koran Burning Issue Continues to Smolder in Afghanistan

Mario Tama/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Koran burning episode in Florida continues to anger many Afghans.

The latest demonstration took place Thursday in the capital, Kabul. Unlike some of the others over the past week, it was peaceful, but as one activist warns, the issue is not resolved and things could again turn violent.

Some of the demonstrators says pastor Terry Jones should be put on trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Was Israel Behind a Deadly Airstrike in the Sudan?

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- The Sudanese government is accusing Israel of killing two men in an airstrike in the city of Port Sudan Tuesday. Israeli leaders are making no official remarks, but a top military source says Israel was involved in the attack and hinted it may have also been behind a similar attack on a weapons convoy in Sudan back in 2009.
 
A senior Israeli military official has confirmed to Time magazine that Israel did carry out Tuesday's deadly air strike on a car in Port Sudan. The unnamed source gave no other details, but many there believe Israeli fighter jets were sent over 1,000 miles away to strike Islamic militants involved in smuggling Iranian weapons through Sudan to the Gaza Strip. That is being backed up by various Arab media outlets which are reporting that a senior Hamas militant in charge of weapons smuggling was killed in the attack.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

British Defense Sources Say Libyan Rebels Should Receive Training Fast

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British sources say Libyan rebels should receive training ASAP. The Guardian and other papers in London are reporting the British government is seeking ways to train and equip the rebels. Quoting unnamed British defense sources, the idea would be to get people like former special forces to train-up the rebels and get Arab countries to fund such training.

The ultimate goal is to strengthen their battlefield positions before negotiating a ceasefire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

A New Superbug is Circulating in India

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Researchers say a deadly new superbug is now widely-circulating in India.

British scientists writing in The Lancet say they found the deadly superbug in about a quarter of the water samples taken from drinking supplies and puddles on the streets of New Delhi. This particular strain can only be treated with a couple of highly toxic and expensive anti-biotics. It's estimated that around half-a-million in the city are carrying the superbug gene naturally in their gut bacteria.

The big concern from the study is this deadly disease could spread around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

Debris from Japan's Quake, Tsunami Heading to US West Coast

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- While the world's attention is focused on Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactors, there is increasing concern over a massive debris field that is floating toward the West Coast of the U.S.

After the tsunami and 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan in March, enormous chunks of entire towns were washed away and are now being found floating in open waters.

Members of the U.S. Navy's 7th fleet, near the coast of Japan, say they've never seen anything like it

Houses, cars, even tractor trailers bobbing in the ocean have become a threat to shipping traffic.

"It's very challenging to move through these to consider these boats run on propellers and that these fishing nets or other debris can be dangerous to the vessels that are actually trying to do the work," Ensign Vernon Dennis said.  "So getting through some of these obstacles doesn't make much sense if you are going to actually cause more debris by having your own vessel become stuck in one of these waterways."

Dennis said the largest thing they might find that would hinder traffic would be capsized vessels or ships.

"There was really no way to weather such a way, such an event...so there's ships out there -- that are capsized or upside down or resting on their sides... in many cases are blocking the channels that go into these ports," he said.

More than 200,000 buildings were washed out to sea by the tsunami and now a powerful current called the North Pacific Gyre is carrying everything towards the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California before looping back towards Hawaii and Asia.

"Across the wide Pacific, the drift rate is about five to 10 miles per day, so it's not a terribly strong current, but it's deliberate," said oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer, who has tracked the path of ocean debris from around the world.  "It never sleeps."

He says a year from now, things that easily float like boats, wood from houses and plastic children's toys will appear.  Two years out, fishing supplies and nets will come ashore and after three years, shoes, plastic furniture and even entire dining sets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio