U.S. issues alert for Uganda amid reports of potential 'Westgate-style' attack
Smoke rises from Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall during September's attack
October 17th, 2013
08:43 PM ET

U.S. issues alert for Uganda amid reports of potential 'Westgate-style' attack

The U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda, issued an alert this week to Americans that it is looking into reports that an attack similar to the one at a Kenyan mall could soon occur in the the city.

The embassy's statement said there were no specific details about a possible date or location of a "Westgate-style attack." It didn't say where the reports were coming from.

A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest information told CNN the notice was sent "out of an abundance of caution." The U.S. is still vetting the information, the official said, to see if there is any truth behind it.

Washington doesn't think the Westgate attackers or al Qaeda is planning the potential attack, the U.S. official said.

At least 67 people were killed by multiple attackers during the four-day siege at the mall in Nairobi last month. The terrorists who attacked the mall claimed to be members of Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.

The embassy in Kampala - Uganda's capital - urged Americans traveling to the country or living there to register with the State Department's Smart Traveller Enrollment Program.

-CNN's Barbara Starr and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

 

 

NATO to work on firming up number for boots left in Afghanistan
October 17th, 2013
05:59 PM ET

NATO to work on firming up number for boots left in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr

As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel prepares to fly to Brussels on Monday for a meeting of NATO defense ministers, the question of how many U.S. troops might remain in Afghanistan after 2014 is still unanswered.

But indications are emerging that it may be a relatively small number of troops that stay behind.

Several military and Pentagon officials tell CNN that a central option now being considered calls for a total NATO force of between 8,000 to 12,000 troops, with 3,000 to 4,000 coming from NATO countries, and the United States making up the balance.

While the final numbers could change, one senior Defense Department official said it's not likely to change by much. If fewer than 8,000 were to stay, relatively few would be able to engage in actual missions.

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Former Blackwater contractors face new charges in Iraq shooting
October 17th, 2013
05:19 PM ET

Former Blackwater contractors face new charges in Iraq shooting

By Bill Mears

Four former Blackwater private security contractors faced new federal charges on Thursday, the latest chapter in a controversial political and diplomatic case over a deadly 2007 Iraqi War incident.

The men were re-indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington on various manslaughter charges related to a shooting that left 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead and at least 18 others wounded at Nisur Square in Baghdad.

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Obama to nominate former Pentagon lawyer as homeland chief
October 17th, 2013
04:50 PM ET

Obama to nominate former Pentagon lawyer as homeland chief

By Bryan Koenig

President Barack Obama plans to nominate Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's former top lawyer, to be the next Homeland Security Secretary, sources tell CNN.

The nomination is expected on Friday. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

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Filed under: Homeland Security
Hagel warns of more uncertainty after budget deal
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
October 17th, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Hagel warns of more uncertainty after budget deal

By Jamie Crawford

The head of the largest U.S. government employer says there is still a long way to go to remove uncertainty for federal employees despite the end of the government shutdown.

"People have to have some confidence that they have a job that they can rely on," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday. "We can't continue to do this to our people, having them live under this cloud of uncertainty."

With a $680 billion budget, the Pentagon has the highest payroll of any federal agency as it supports 7.4 million active duty forces and 718,000 civilian workers.

Hagel said the civilian defense workforce was hit hardest during the 16-day shutdown that ended on Thursday.
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Filed under: Defense Spending • Hagel • Military • Sequestration
October 17th, 2013
02:27 PM ET

Iranian officials optimistic after Geneva talks

By Laura Smith-Spark and Jim Sciutto

A day after talks in Geneva between Iran and six world powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions ended on a promising note, Iran's state-run news agency quoted government officials as expressing optimism that differences can be resolved.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the so-called P5+1 - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, all countries with permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany - "has accepted the overall framework of Tehran's new proposal to settle differences but said we should wait for their practical measures," IRNA reported Thursday.

"Araqchi further referred to uranium enrichment as Iran's red line in the negotiations, adding that Iran could still negotiate over the level and the volume of enrichment," it added.

According to Araqchi, who is taking a lead role in the negotiations, the sides could reach an agreement in as little as three to six months.

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Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?
October 17th, 2013
12:03 PM ET

Harman: Who’s out there trying to do us harm?

Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.

By Jane Harman, Special to CNN

The October 5 takedown of Nazih Abdul Hamed al Ruqai – an alleged perpetrator of the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, a long-standing occupant of the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, and alleged one-time member of Osama bin Laden’s security team – surprised many.

It was a brilliantly successful operation conducted by our military under strict legal guidelines for capture, interrogations, arrest and now transfer to New York for trial. This process may be the new gold standard for CT operations going forward.

U.S. officials hope he will provide useful information about his al Qaeda colleagues and plots being planned against Western and American targets so we may be able to thwart future attacks.

But while this capture was picture-perfect, al Ruqai was only one of many terrorists currently on the loose.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Boko Haram • Libya • Terrorism • Yemen