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Tuesday
May172011

Saudi Diplomat Assassinated in Pakistan

U.S. State Department(KARACHI, Pakistan) -- New problems appear to be brewing in Pakistan after a Saudi Arabian diplomat was shot and killed Monday in the financial capital of Karachi.

Witnesses said that the assailants were riding motorcycles when they intercepted a limo driven by Hassan M. al-Kahtani.  The gunmen then fired at the diplomat, shooting him in the head.

A Pakistani security official said on the condition of anonymity that al-Kahtani was actually an intelligence officer "looking into Saudi dissidents who have found refuge in the city, and this is most probably why he was targeted."

While no motive was assigned to the murder, there is also speculation that it might have been revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan, since the Saudi government has denounced the al Qaeda leader.

The Saudis and Pakistanis have generally had good relations over the years so the assassination could have been the work of radical Islamists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May172011

Supermodel Petra Nemcova Brings Education to Earthquake-Ravaged Haiti

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- A year and a half later, Haiti is still reeling from the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck the country in the late afternoon on Jan. 12, 2010.  ABC News has followed up repeatedly with the still-ravaged country, this week traveling to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, with supermodel Petra Nemcova to find out how her charity, the Happy Hearts Fund, is helping to bring education to Haitian children.

Gone are the military planes, the crates of food and medicine flown to Haiti, but rubble can still be found on the streets. Tent cities house the homeless. Just as staggering is the fact that 50 percent of school-aged children in Haiti are not getting to school.

Nemcova was in Thailand in December 2004 when a tsunami hit. She and her fiancé were swept away by the powerful wall of water. Her pelvis was crushed to pieces, but she managed to clutch onto a tree and hold on for eight hours until help came. Her fiancé was swept into the ocean and perished.

During those eight hours, she could only listen as children begged for help. She was powerless to come to their aid.

"I was not able to help those children," Nemcova told ABC News. "You heard them screaming for help and after some time you couldn't hear their voices anymore."

On Tuesday, ABC News was there as Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund opened its first school in Haiti. It's the 51st school the organization has built in disaster zones all over the world.

Immediately, a wave of local residents came to see the new school, eager for a moment of joy in a bleak landscape. The old school was a shabby tent that barely protected students from the elements.

Kindergarteners filled the classroom; most of them have tragic stories.

Five-year-old Stayshama said her mother died in the earthquake. Another young boy said that he lost his father.

Nemcova knows that her school is just the beginning of the massive effort needed to rebuild schools in Haiti so that the country can have a future, but every story needs a beginning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Former Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak to Turn Over Assets

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images(CAIRO, Egypt) -- Officials investigating whether the family of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was involved in corruption during his 30-year stay in office say the Mubaraks will hand over their assets to the state, according to the BBC.

Since her detention last week, Hosni Mubarak's wife Suzanne agreed to turn over a Cairo villa and an estimated $3 million in Egyptian banks.  Funds held in a bank in Switzerland have also been frozen.  

Both Mr. and Mrs. Mubarak are currently in detention at the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital as they recover from reported illnesses suffered on the days each of them were detained.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

White House Condemns Syrian Role in Israeli Border Clashes

Jalaa Marey/JINI/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With more than a dozen dead in Palestinian protests along the Israeli border over the weekend, White Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that administration officials “regret the loss of life, and our thoughts are with the families of loved ones of those killed and wounded. Israel like all countries has the right to prevent unauthorized crossings at its borders. Its neighbors have a responsibility to prevent such activity.”

Carney also said the administration is “strongly opposed to the Syrian government's involvement in inciting yesterday's protests in the Golan Heights.

“Such behavior is unacceptable and does not serve as a distraction from the Syrian government's ongoing repression of demonstrators in its own country," Carney said, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was inciting the protests to deflect attention from his own internal crackdown on demonstrations.

"We certainly think that there's a history of that and it seems apparent to us that that is an effort to distract attention from the legitimate expressions of protest by the Syrian people and from the harsh crackdown that the Syrian government has perpetrated against its own people," Carney said.

Carney reminded the press that the president will be speaking about the progress and change in the region in a speech Thursday, though he declined to talk about specifics of the speech.

“(The speech) will address where we are in this remarkable period. It will also address how he approaches the kind of historic change we’ve seen in the region and where he thinks we’re headed...in terms of our policy in the region and the region itself,” Carney said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

IMF Chief Denied Bail, Sent Back to Jail on Sex Charges

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New York City judge denied bail to International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday before sending him to jail until Friday, calling him a flight risk despite arguments to the contrary by his high-powered defense team.

His attorneys had denied the seven counts against him, which included allegedly forcing a housekeeper at the Sofitel Hotel to perform oral sex, and allegedly forcing her to submit to anal sex after allegedly taking her prisoner inside a $3,000 a night luxury suite.

All told, he has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of attempted rape, sexual abuse in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching. The complaint charges that he forcibly touched the housekeeper's breasts, attempted to pull off her panty hose, twice "forcibly made contact with his penis and the informant's mouth" and that "the defendant engaged in oral sexual conduct and anal sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion."

The office of District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. asked that Strauss-Kahn be remanded to jail, a course of action that took shape in the hours after Strauss-Kahn's arrest Saturday as the prosecutor's office wrestled with how to balance the rights of the accused with the facts of the case, and his potential to flee their jurisdiction.

"This guy has every reason to run, and the law may even help him hide from this situation," one investigator said. He has personal, political and financial resources to evade capture, the DA's office said in open court. He is, an assistant district attorney said, an "incurable" flight risk.

The international money man was already aboard a plane scheduled to depart for Paris when police caught up with him Saturday, moments before the door to Air France Flight 23 was to be closed. He was sitting calmly, reading a magazine when Port Authority Police approached him to take him from the plane, officials said.

Strauss-Kahn, until this weekend, oversaw the International Monetary Fund, a body established to keep the global monetary system stable, with the ability to lend hundreds of billions of dollars.

He was considered a legitimate contender for the French presidency in an upcoming election, and his arrest has reportedly sparked "shock and disbelief" in France.

He will be placed in a protected unit inside the city jail at Rikers Island, according to city Department of Corrections officials.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Pakistan: Seven Dead in Pair of Drone Attacks

Stocktrek Images/Getty Images(MIR ALI, Pakistan) -- At least seven militants were killed Monday in two separate drone attacks on the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

The first attack -- a two-missile strike -- hit a Mir Ali compound, killing four. A second strike, also a two-missile attack, targeted a car, killing three of the militants inside.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

London Police Receive Multiple Bomb Threats from Irish Terrorists

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Three coded bomb threat warnings by dissident Irish terrorists have been called in to London police as of Monday, ABC News has learned.

The warnings come ahead of President Obama's scheduled visit to London next week and the Queen of England's trip to Ireland on Tuesday.  According to sources, none of the threats mentioned Obama nor the Queen.  One of them did, however, mention a location where no bomb was found.

The phoned-in threats are the latest in an aggressive campaign by Irish terrorists that has so far confined itself largely to attacks on police and security services in areas inside the U.K. that include Belfast, Omagh, and Londonderry.  An attack in London is an aspiration of the terrorists, British law enforcement and intelligence sources have told ABC News.

Recent press in Ireland has suggested that the dissidents are seeking to acquire weapons such as rocket launchers.  But as ABC News has reported, the groups have already constructed sophisticated mortars capable of flinging nearly 40 pounds of explosives more than 300 yards.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

ICC Chief Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrant for Gadhafi

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(THE HAGUE, Netherlands) -- The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court asked judges Monday to issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo is also seeking the arrest of Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and Libya's spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, who happens to be Gadhafi's brother-in-law.

Moreno-Ocampo's office claims the trio is responsible for "widespread and systematic attacks" against the people of Libya, "including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity."

"Additionally and since the end of February, there has been an armed conflict in Libya.  In this context, there is also relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

ICC judges will now review evidence and decide whether or not to issue the arrest warrants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Pakistan to Return Remains of Secret Stealth Helicopter

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan will return the pieces of the secret U.S. helicopter that went down during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden early this month, Sen. John Kerry told reporters Monday.

Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the chopper's wreckage -- which aviation experts said was the first public evidence of a secret U.S. stealth Black Hawk program -- would be handed over to American officials Tuesday. Kerry (D-Mass.) met with senior Pakistani civilian and military officials Monday in Islamabad in hopes of improving relations between the two countries following America's unilateral incursion into Pakistan to kill the al Qaeda leader on May 1.

Following the operation, U.S. officials asked Pakistan for the wreckage back, but Pakistan had not publicly agreed until Kerry's visit. One Pakistani official told ABC News last week the Chinese were "very interested" in seeing the remains of the helicopter. Another Pakistani official said then that the Pakistan government "might let them [the Chinese] take a look."

A U.S. official said at the time he did not know if the Pakistanis had offered a peek to the Chinese, but said he would be "shocked" if the Chinese hadn't already been given access to the damaged aircraft.

The helicopter made a hard landing after it clipped a wall during the Navy SEAL operation that took down bin Laden, the White House said. The SEALs who rode in on the bird attempted to destroy it after abandoning it on the ground, but a significant portion of the tail section survived the explosion. In the days after the raid, the tail section and other pieces of debris -- including a mysterious cloth-like covering that the local children found entertaining to play with -- were photographed being hauled away from the crash site by tractor.

Aviation experts said the unusual configuration of the rear rotor, the curious hub-cap like housing around it and the general shape of the aircraft are all clues the helicopter was highly modified to not only be quiet, but to have as small a radar signature as possible.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Defense declined to comment on the helicopter, and a senior Pentagon official told ABC News in the days after the raid the Department would "absolutely not" discuss anything relating to the downed chopper. Several Chinese government officials in the U.S. and in China also declined to comment.

U.S. officials have not officially disclosed any details on the chopper, but President Obama said it was a "$60 million helicopter," in a report by The Washington Post. While the price tag on normal Black Hawks varies depending the type, none cost more than $20 million according to the latest Department of Defense procurement report. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

France: IMF Chief's Presidential Election Chances Called Into Question

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The weekend arrest of International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for alleged sex assault in New York City has his right-wing political opponents calling for blood in France where he was -- until his arrest -- the likely presidential frontrunner. The arrest has not only tarnished Strauss-Kahn's home country's image abroad, but potentially destroyed his own political viability.

The Frenchman has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of attempted rape, sexual abuse in the first degree, unlawful imprisonment, sexual abuse in the third degree and forcible touching.

Strauss-Kahn is a leading member of the Socialist Party of France, the main left-wing political opposition to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right UMP party. The length of the United States justice process might preclude Strauss-Kahn from starting a political campaign in time for the Socialist Party primaries.

"He was at the head of the 2012 presidential field," Pascal Virot, the head of domestic political news for the French newspaper Libération, told ABC News, translated from French. "He was currently the clear winner in a Socialist Party primary campaign, and the only Socialist who had a chance to beat Sarkozy, according to recent polls."

Although he has yet to commit to run in the next French presidential elections in November 2012, an April poll of likely French voters by Paris Match-Europe 1 had him leading current president Nicolas Sarkozy by 7 percentage points in a run-off election.

That the alleged assault happened in the United States, a constant punching bag in the French media, has magnified the feeling of embarrassment for many French people.

"No one here thinks he can run for the French presidency anymore," Paris resident Virginie Hammel, 32, told ABC News, translated from French.

Strauss-Kahn told Liberation a few weeks ago that he could see himself being set up for a "honey trap" to tarnish his reputation ahead of the election in 2012. He said his opponents would attack his "money, women and Jewishness," in that order. He said at the time that his biggest challenge was fighting the public perception that he is a womanizer.

Strauss-Kahn is a father of four and is married to his third wife, American-born French television journalist Anne Sinclair.

A New York City judge denied bail to Strauss-Kahn on Monday before sending him to jail until Friday, calling him a flight risk despite arguments to the contrary by his high-powered defense team.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio