By Paul Cruickshank
American Omar Hammami, who built a following in militant circles in the West for his idiosyncratic jihadist rap videos and had a U.S. bounty on his head, was among two notable jihadists reportedly killed in Somalia on Thursday.
Sources said Hammami and Briton Osama al-Britani were apparently ambushed west of Mogadishu by members of al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab.
A message posted on the al-Jihad al-Alami forum said they were killed "by an unjust raid by the Emir of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement and his followers in Islamic Bay and Bakool province after clashes that lasted for several hours while they defended themselves," according to a translation by the SITE intelligence group.
Hammami, a former Al-Shabaab fighter and prolific English-language propagandist for the group with a $5 million American bounty on his head, went into hiding after falling out with the group last year.
By Jim Clancy and Tim Lister
The revelation that the US National Security Agency (NSA) allows Israel to see raw intelligence data it gathers has angered privacy and civil liberties activists, but surprised few security analysts.
The agreement was disclosed by the Guardian newspaper Wednesday, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has provided the newspaper with reams of classified information.
An undated Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel sets out the ground-rules by which the NSA 'routinely' provides raw intelligence data to the Israelis. It defines raw ‘Sigint’ as including “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."
The Memorandum includes provisions designed to protect the privacy of Americans whose data might be shared with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU). It opens with a preamble that the sharing of information must be “consistent with the requirements placed upon NSA by US law and Executive Order to establish safeguards protecting the rights of US persons under the Fourth Amendment” of the US Constitution guaranteeing individual privacy.
From Jim Sciutto traveling with Secretary Kerry in Geneva
As Secretary Kerry and his team land in Geneva, I get a clear sense of them heading into these crucial talks with the Russians with a healthy dose of skepticism. As one official said to me, this is a test of whether the Russians and more importantly the Syrians are serious. Both sides are bringing their experts on chemical weapons, security, and more – all to assess whether there is a credible way forward to catalogue, collect and destroy Assad's massive arsenal of chemical weapons. These next 48 hours will determine if there is a diplomatic way out of this.
"We can test whether there is a credible and authentic way forward here – that the Russians mean what they say – as importantly, more importantly probably, that Assad means what he says and that we can move forward with a program that is verifiable, that can happen expeditiously and that Assad cannot have access to and continue to use chemical weapons against his own people," a senior administration official told me aboard the plane as we flew to Geneva.
Administration officials say the intended outcome of the meetings is to get an "outline of what a way forward may look like" which they can then take to Britain, France, China, and others to build support for a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
By Jill Dougherty
In an extraordinary direct appeal to Americans Vladimir Putin, in a New York Times op-ed, warned that military action in Syria would only “unleash a new wave of terrorism,” denied his country is trying to protect Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and depicted himself as an ally who wants to save the United States – from its own worst instincts.
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” Putin said. “ A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
The Russian president also denied the view that the uprising in Syria is part of a wave of popular movements in the Middle East demanding democracy from despotic rulers. “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country,” he wrote. “There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government.”
CIA-funded weapons have begun flowing to Syrian rebels, a U.S. official told CNN late Wednesday night.
The official confirmed details first reported by the Washington Post but would not speak publicly.
"That is something we are not going to dispute, but we are not going to publicly speak to it," the official said.
The weapons are not American-made, but are funded and organized by the CIA. They started to reach rebels about two weeks ago, the official said.
The artillery provided were described as light weapons, some anti-tank weapons and ammunition.
The supply is in addition to the non-lethal aid that the United States has been providing the rebels since April, when the Obama administration first altered the nature of the aid to include items such as body armor, night vision goggles and other military equipment.