Sources: 3 al Qaeda operatives took part in Benghazi attack
May 2nd, 2013
10:53 PM ET

Sources: 3 al Qaeda operatives took part in Benghazi attack

By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, Nic Robertson and Fran Townsend

Several Yemeni men belonging to al Qaeda took part in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, according to several sources who have spoken with CNN.

One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that "three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," or AQAP, took part in the attack.

Another source briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack. But it's not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose.

The attack on the compound and subsequently on a "safe-house" to which Americans had been evacuated left four U.S. citizens dead, including the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

Read the full story here.


Filed under: AQAP • Libya
May 2nd, 2013
10:37 PM ET

Hagel: U.S. rethinking opposition to arming Syrian rebels

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday the Obama administration is rethinking its policy of opposing providing weapons to the Syrian rebels.

Hagel's acknowledgment - after weeks of the U.S. resisting arming the opposition, for fear the weapons could end up in the wrong hands - comes days after the White House sent a letter to two U.S. senators saying the intelligence community assessed "with varying degrees of confidence" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government had used the chemical agent sarin on a "small scale."

President Obama, asked about Hagel's remarks, said he was only reiterating a position the administration has held for months. "We are continually evaluating the situation on the ground working with our international partners to find the best way to move a political transition that has Assad leaving, stabilizes the country, ends the killing and allows the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, " the president said during a press conference in Mexico.

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Filed under: Hagel • Syria
May 2nd, 2013
09:50 PM ET

What caused a plane to fall out of the sky?

Did shifting cargo throw a Boeing 747 off balance and cause it to crash?  CNN's Chris Lawrence looks at possible causes. A warning: the video purporting to show the Monday crash in Afghanistan is disturbing.


Filed under: Afghanistan
State Department to review Benghazi investigation
May 2nd, 2013
07:57 PM ET

State Department to review Benghazi investigation

By CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott

A review board responsible for investigating the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya is now getting its own review.

The office of the State Department's inspector general is doing a special review of the "effectiveness and accountability" of the Accountability Review Board (ARB) process, according to Doug Welty, a spokesman for the IG's office.
FULL POST


Filed under: Libya • State Department
North Korea sentences U.S. citizen to 15 years of hard labor
May 2nd, 2013
05:57 AM ET

North Korea sentences U.S. citizen to 15 years of hard labor

By Jethro Mullen and K.J. Kwon, CNN

A North Korean court has sentenced a U.S. citizen to 15 years of hard labor, saying he committed "hostile acts" against the secretive state.

The country's Supreme Court delivered the sentence against Pae Jun Ho, known as Kenneth Bae by U.S. authorities, on Tuesday, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Thursday.

The KCNA article said Bae a Korean-American, was arrested November 3 after arriving as a tourist in Rason City, a port in the northeastern corner of North Korea. It didn't provide any details about the "hostile acts" he is alleged to have committed.

Following the sentence, his case could get caught up in the tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, which spiked recently after the North carried out its latest underground nuclear test in February and as the United States and South Korea held joint military drills in the region.

The intensity of the menacing rhetoric from North Korea appears to have subsided recently, and the U.S.-South Korean drills finished this week, removing one source of friction. But Kim Jong Un's regime, which has demanded that North Korea be recognized as a nuclear power, remains unpredictable.

The United States has seen the reports of Bae's sentencing, a State Department official said, and is working to confirm them through the Swedish Embassy.

FULL STORY

Filed under: North Korea • State Department
Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"
May 2nd, 2013
02:02 AM ET

Hillary Clinton: NATO risks sliding into "military irrelevance"

By CNN's Mary Grace Lucas

A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night.

"NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense," Clinton said. "Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance."

Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.

Clinton praised Rasmussen roundly for his work. But she didn’t shy away from the idea that NATO nations needed to think ahead about a more evenly-shared responsibility when it comes to security and readiness.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • NATO • Rasmussen