December 5th, 2013
08:27 PM ET

Analysis: Pro al Qaeda militants seen as lead suspects in American teacher’s death

By CNN's Paul Cruickshank and Nic Robertson

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the shooting death of American teacher Ronnie Smith on a morning jog in Benghazi Thursday, but a leading Libyan terrorism analyst believes it was most likely the work of groups linked or sympathetic to al Qaeda.

Libya’s Interior Ministry said four unidentified assailants in a black Jeep opened fire on Smith, killing him instantly.

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December 5th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

American teacher slain in Libya

By Elise Labott

American teacher Ronnie Smith has been shot and killed in Benghazi, according to the Facebook page of the international school in Libya where he worked.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the killing, and identified the educator as Ronald Thomas Smith II.

"The untimely death of Ronnie Smith has been felt by the whole school community," the International School Benghazi posted on its Facebook page. "He was a much loved teacher who supported students in their learning and always had time to help when asked. Ronnie was a professional who gave his time freely and without question. We do not understand why this has happened and it is extremely difficult for his students and his colleagues to accept."

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U.S. to begin sea trials for ship that could destroy Syria's chemical arms
December 5th, 2013
03:01 PM ET

U.S. to begin sea trials for ship that could destroy Syria's chemical arms

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. plans to begin sea trials by the end of the month of a merchant marine ship with special equipment on board that can destroy much of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, according to a U.S. Defense Department official who briefed reporters.

The ship, the M/V Cape Ray, is now in port in the Norfolk area of Virginia being outfitted with a chemical weapons "neutralization" system developed by the Pentagon. If the trials go well and the Pentagon plan is accepted by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ship could head to the region in January. The official, along with two others who briefed reporters, declined to be identified because the plan has not been approved by those international organizations.

The neutralization technology is called the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System. It mixes chemical agents with water and other chemicals to significantly lower any toxicity. The remaining material will then be destroyed in a commercial waste disposal site. "Absolutely nothing will be dumped at sea," the official said, adding that the technology is "safe and environmentally sound."
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With Mideast peace in mind, Kerry coaxes Israel on Iran
December 5th, 2013
10:13 AM ET

With Mideast peace in mind, Kerry coaxes Israel on Iran

By Elise Labott

Jerusalem (CNN) - John Kerry’s ninth trip to Israel since becoming secretary of state could be among the most difficult.

He needs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s buy-in for the two issues U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the centerpiece of his second term foreign policy – Iran and Middle East peace.

But at a time when the Israeli leader’s confidence in the United States is shaken over the Iran deal, his trust in the administration as broker of a peace deal with the Palestinians may waver.
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