Nation & World Briefs 11-20-12 FBI: Four are arrested on terrorism charges, planned to join al-Qaida

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LOS ANGELES -- Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in "violent jihad," FBI spokesman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two -- 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland -- converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Number of slain officers rises: The FBI says that 72 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty last year, up from 56 the year before. An additional 53 officers died in accidents, and 54,774 officers were assaulted in the line of duty. The average age of officers killed in the line of duty was 38. Of the 72 slayings, 23 were in arrest situations, 15 were ambushed, 11 were in traffic pursuits or stops, and nine were in tactical situations. The report says 29 deaths happened in the South, 21 in the Midwest, 10 in the West, and 10 in the Northeast. The other two were in Puerto Rico. Sixty-nine of the slain officers were males.

U.S. imposes new sanctions: The Obama administration has imposed new sanctions on a Hezbollah leader set free last week by Iraq despite U.S. protests. The Treasury Department's action freezes any assets Ali Mussa Daqduq has in the United States and prohibits Americans from doing business with him. Daqduq is blamed for numerous attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. He was captured in March 2007 and held by the U.S. military until being transferred to Iraqi custody in December 2011. An Iraqi court dismissed charges against him in May. He was released last week.

Say Rice unfit to head State Dept.: A group of 97 House Republicans sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, saying that UN Ambassador Susan Rice misled the nation about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, making her unfit to be a candidate to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The letter, organized by South Carolina freshman Jeff Duncan, said Rice's "misleading statements" about the attack that led to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans "caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world." It was the latest GOP effort to single out Rice for the mixed signals sent out by the administration in the immediate aftermath of the September attack in Benghazi.

New push HIV test: There's a new push to make testing for the AIDS virus as common as cholesterol checks. Americans ages 15-64 should get an HIV test at least once -- not just people considered at high risk for the virus, an independent panel that sets screening guidelines proposed Monday. The draft guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are the latest recommendations that aim to make HIV screening simply a routine part of a check-up, something a doctor can order with as little fuss as a cholesterol test or a mammogram. Since 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has pushed for widespread, routine HIV screening.

Court attorney fired over tweet: A Kansas appeals court attorney was fired Monday after using foul language about the state's former attorney general in comments she posted to Twitter last week. Sarah Peterson Herr, a research attorney for a Kansas Court of Appeals judge, posted the comments about former Attorney General Phill Kline while he was appearing before the Kansas Supreme Court as part of an ethics investigation. The Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether Kline's law license should be indefinitely suspended for his conduct during investigations of abortion providers.

Takes space station command: An Indiana native has taken command of the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Kevin Ford became the station's commander Sunday with the departure of three astronauts from the U.S., Russia and Japan who landed safely Monday in Kazakhstan. The 52-year-old Ford remains on the space station with two Russians and they are to be joined next month by astronauts from the U.S., Canada and Russia. Ford's crew arrived at the station on Oct. 25 and is scheduled to return to Earth in March.

Ind. court steps into dispute: The state Court of Appeals has temporarily stayed a local court decision that ordered the Indianapolis Star to disclose the identity of a person who made anonymous comments on its website that a former chief executive of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana contends were defamatory. The court will hear motions today filed by the Star and Jeffrey and Cynthia Miller, who sued the newspaper. The appeals court stayed the lower decision Friday. The dispute stems from a 2010 comment regarding Junior Achievement's financial affairs which former Junior Achievement CEO Jeffrey Miller claims defamed him. The Star appealed after a local judge ordered it to identify the commenter. The appellate court set standards for requiring the Star to comply, and the local judge again ordered it to identify the commenter.

Approval proceeds in Canada: Canada's federal government allowed the approval process to proceed Monday for the generic form of the highly-addictive painkiller OxyContin, a move that set off a quick outcry from the country's provinces and aboriginal communities. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq rejected a plea from Canada's provinces, which unanimously requested a delay of approval until regulators could examine the abuse of oxycodone. Ontario asked for a complete ban on the drug, which has caused widespread addictions in Canada's rural and tribal communities. Her refusal to get involved in the process opens the way for generic oxycodone to win approval in Canada after the patent for the brand-name OxyContin expires on Nov. 25.

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