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Thursday
May192011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Lawyers to Seek Bail Again

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, will return to court with his lawyers Thursday morning in a second attempt to win bail on charges that he sexually assaulted a hotel maid.

Strauss-Kahn, until the arrest a likely candidate for the presidency of France, officially resigned from the position he held since 2007 via a letter on Wednesday, an IMF press release stated.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested on Saturday on various charges including committing a criminal sexual act, attempted rape, and unlawful imprisonment, stemming from an alleged incident in a Manhattan suite where he is accused of the attempted rape a hotel maid.

His defense lawyers' offer of a $1 million bail package was rejected by the court at an initial hearing on Monday on grounds that Strauss-Kahn is a flight risk.  Since then he has been held in an 11 by 13-foot cell at the West Facility on New York's Riker's Island, where he remains on suicide watch.

It is unclear if Strauss-Kahn will be present for Thursday's court proceedings.

Thursday is Strauss-Kahn's scheduled visiting day at Riker's Island. Media reports from France indicate that his family is expected to visit him; if so, as many as three of them may visit for up to one hour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May192011

IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn Resigns

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hours after Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., demanded Wednesday that International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn resign or be terminated, the IMF announced that the managing director accused of sexual assault and attempted rape of a NYC hotel housekeeper had submitted his resignation.

In a letter to the IMF executive board, Strauss-Kahn, 62, states:

"It is with infinite sadness that I feel compelled today to present to the Executive Board my resignation from my post of Managing Director of the IMF."

He continues saying that he is thinking first of his wife, who, he says, "I love more than anything," as well as his children, family and friends.

After acknowledging his colleagues at the IMF and their accomplishments, Strauss-Kahn denies "with the greatest possible firmness" the allegations made against him.

"I want to protect this institution, which I have served with honor and devotion," Strauss-Kahn states. "I want to devote all my strength, all my time and all my energy to proving my innocence."

He is currently being held in protective custody at New York's Rikers Island prison facility awaiting his hearing on Friday.

The IMF plans to select a new Managing Director, but says that, in the meantime, John Lipsky will remain acting managing director.

Wednesday
May182011

Obama to Speak on U.S. Role in Arab World's Political Transition

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, President Obama will try to convince the Arab world that the U.S. wants to shift its engagement in the region from a military one to a political and economic engagement that will help the people of the region realize their dreams.

"Having wound down the Iraq war and continuing to do so, and having taken out Osama bin Laden, we are beginning to turn the page to a more positive and hopeful future for U.S. policy in the region," a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday.

Officials say the president will likely make clear the administration's intentions to support democracy in the Middle East and North African region while centering on nonviolence, support for human rights, support for political reform and support for economic reform.

Obama will also speak about economic development as "a way of reinforcing democratic transition," the official said Wednesday. Additionally, he'll announce a series of economic initiatives focusing on Tunisia and Egypt, both of which the official says have already "begun their transitions."  The hope for these initiatives would be that other countries in the region will see progress in Tunisia and Egypt enough to adopt these reforms as well.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Osama bin Laden Speaks from Beyond the Grave

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda has released a new message from Osama bin Laden, the first since the terror group's leader was killed in a U.S. raid on his Pakistan compound almost three weeks ago.

The 13-minute audiotape, which references the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, includes a still image emblazoned with an old picture of bin Laden and dated with the Islamic month that begins in the last week of April. It seems to have been recorded after Feb. 17.

According to U.S. officials, it is the same as one of the taped messages found by Navy SEALs during the raid on the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was killed earlier this month.

In the message, bin Laden addresses fellow Muslims across the Middle East but does not issue threats and does not mention the U.S. or the West.

Instead, he celebrates their struggle with flowery language, and tells them it would be a "sin to lose this opportunity."

"The winds of change flew to the square of Tahrir," he says, referring to Cairo, "and a great revolution was begun. This wasn't a revolution of starving and pain, but a revolution of giving and peace."

"The great oppression in our countries has reached great levels, and we have delayed enough the wave of change," says bin Laden. "Let the truth ring out. Remember those that go out with a sword are true believers, those that go fight with their tongue are true believers, and those that fight in their hearts are true believers.

"Oh Muslims, you have seen many revolutions in your past," says bin Laden. "Those that the people have been so happy about, but then have turned into nothing. And the way to keep these revolutions from having the same problem is fighting ignorance. And some of the most important information is Islam. For this is the true crisis that has hit our nations."

The tape, released on Islamist websites Wednesday, is the first new bin Laden tape to surface posthumously, but U.S. officials expect others to be released because there were other taped messages found during the search of bin Laden's house.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

IMF Case: Strauss-Kahn to Ask for Bail; Alleged Victim Testifies to Grand Jury

Shannon Stapleton-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Moments after the hotel chambermaid who has accused IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault finished testifying before a grand jury Wednesday in New York, lawyers for the French politician said they would seek to have him freed on bail Thursday.

Strauss-Kahn's attorneys are busy constructing a new bail package to present to a judge as early as Thursday morning in the hopes of springing their client from pretrial detention.

Strauss-Kahn is currently in protective isolation and on suicide watch in an 11 foot-by-13-foot cell at New York's notorious Riker's Island jail, where he has been since Monday when a court determined he was a flight risk and denied him bail.

His lawyers initially proposed a $1 million bail package that was rejected by the court.

It has not been announced whether Strauss-Kahn will be in court for Friday's hearing. According to reports in the French media, he is expecting his family to visit him in jail Thursday.

His accuser, a 32-year-old maid at New York City's Sofitel Hotel, testified in court Wednesday that "there was nothing consensual" about the assault that allegedly took place Saturday, her lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro said.

Meanwhile, investigators say they are conducting DNA tests on bodily fluids and other materials found in the $3,000-a-night suite.

Prosecutors presented her testimony and other evidence today to the grand jury in an effort to swat down what will likely be Strauss-Kahn's defense; that he and the maid, a native of the West African country Guinea, had consensual sex in his hotel room.

Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told the judge at a bail hearing Monday that "the evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter," shedding light on the narrative Strauss-Kahn's lawyer might use to explain the encounter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Authorities Hunt for Terrorists Named in Files Found at Bin Laden's Compound

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The entire U.S. intelligence community is busy pursuing leads from files recovered from Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound to determine whether bin Laden's plots had gone beyond the discussion and planning phase to concrete threats, government sources told ABC News.

Sources familiar with bin Laden's handwritten journal and computer files told ABC News that names of suspected al Qaeda operatives had been found in the files, and that an intense effort was underway to find the individuals attached to those names.

A special Media Exploitation Task Force "working 24/7" in shifts has been set up on the grounds of CIA headquarters to exploit the bin Laden files.

U.S. intelligence has been trying to determine if the names in the files are real or aliases, and has called on Great Britain and Canada to help it nail the identifications.

"The names that they are finding are extremely important," former FBI Agent Brad Garrett said in an interview with ABC News. "I believe that they're under a lot of pressure to resolve and identify these people as quickly as possible."

Travel records are being combed to see if any of these people have entered the U.S. already, and names are being added to terrorist watch lists in case any operatives try to come here.

Some officials have expressed shock that bin Laden kept so much sensitive material with him in what has been described as the most significant terrorism trove ever discovered.

Analysts pouring over the bin Laden files have found a number of references that signal he was pushing the terror network to ready an attack on U.S soil on or before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Some analysts worry that such a plot could already be in motion, even though they have found no evidence of it.

But al Qaeda plots are often months in the making. The 9/11 plot, which bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed dubbed "The Planes Operation," took more than two years to conceive and execute.

The bin Laden files indicate that he and al Qaeda discussed not only attacks against commuter trains but plots against airplanes and airports, buildings, vehicle bombs and hits like the one in Mumbai in which terrorists used guns and small explosives to execute victims in cold blood, sources familiar with the documents told ABC News.

Now intelligence officials are studying the files to figure out if bin Laden's writings reflect simply his aspirations or plans to be put in motion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Obama Signs New Sanctions Against Syrian President Assad

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the wake of the violent crackdown by the government of Syria against demonstrators in its streets, President Obama today signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior officials of the government of Syria. The sanctions include a freeze of their U.S. assets and a ban on any individual or company in the U.S. doing business with them.

The six other individuals are all high-level offices in the Syrian government:

  • Farouk al-Shara: Vice President
  • Adel Safar: Prime Minister
  • Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar: Minister of the Interior
  • Ali Habib Mahmoud: Minister of Defense
  • Abdul Fatah Qudsiya: Head of Syrian Military Intelligence
  • Mohammed Dib Zaitoun: Director of Political Security Directorate


Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Libya Releases Four Foreign Journalists

U.S. State Department(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Three journalists, including two Americans, were released by the Libyan government Wednesday after having been imprisoned since early April; a fourth, held since early this month, was also released.

Sources confirmed to ABC News the release of American reporters Jim Foley and Clare Gillis, as well as Spanish photographer Manu Brabo and Britain's Nigel Chandler. South African Anton Hammerl was not among those released; his fate was not immediately clear.

Libyan authorities are still holding the journalists' passports, a source tells ABC News, and diplomats are negotiating with the regime to get those documents released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

White House to Yemeni President: Sign Agreement, Get Out

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House called President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen on Wednesday to urge him to sign and implement the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered agreement that would result in his stepping down within a month.

John Brennan, President Obama's top adviser on counterterrorism and the point-man for Yemen, made the phone call, delivering the message that the agreement should be signed "so that Yemen is able to move forward immediately with its political transition," according to the official read-out of the call.

Under the agreement, Saleh would resign with immunity by the end of the month. His political party --  led by vice president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi -- would work with opposition leaders to form a unity government and a presidential election would be held within two months.

Saleh went back on the previously negotiated agreement with opposition leaders brokered by the six-nation GCC.

"For our part, we have agreed," Muhammad Naimi, the head of the opposition's political bureau, was quoted saying in the Los Angeles Times. "Whether the government will actually commit to the document, or backtrack again, that is another story."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

IMF Case: Maid's Testimony to Emphasize 'Nothing Consensual'

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Investigators say they are conducting DNA tests on bodily fluids found in the Manhattan hotel room where IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly sexually assaulted a chambermaid, while his accuser prepares to testify before a grand jury.

The housekeeper, a native of the West African country of Guinea, was to testify in court Wednesday that "there was nothing consensual" about the assault that allegedly took place Saturday, her lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro said.

Her testimony and new physical evidence will be introduced in an effort to swat down what will likely be Strauss-Kahn's defense; that he and the maid, 32, had consensual sex in his $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel Hotel. Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told the judge at a bail hearing Monday that "the evidence, we believe, will not be consistent with a forcible encounter," shedding light on the narrative Strauss-Kahn's lawyer might use to explain the encounter.

Strauss-Kahn, 62, is accused of forcing the housekeeper to perform oral sex and submit to anal sex. He is also accused of sexual assault and attempted rape.

Prosecutors plan to introduce evidence that they say corroborates the housekeeper's story.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio