Manchester terror attack: Police in frantic hunt for bomb maker, mastermind

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British authorities were in a frantic race to find the mastermind who fashioned the deadly bomb used in Monday’s terror attack in Manchester, as the nation was braced for a new strike that could be “imminent.”

Police believe 22-year-old Salman Abedi was given the explosive he used to kill himself and 22 others at a concert by pop singer Ariana Grande. Four people were in custody Wednesday in connection with the incident, as British authorities continued to conduct “extensive” searches while investigating the “network” behind the attack.

“It is very clear that it is a network we are investigating,” Manchester police said on Wednesday.

British officials said they deployed nearly 1,000 military troops at high-profile sites in the country, some in London, instead of police. Manchester police said the increase in threat level gave the green light to deploy military support operation under the code name “Temperer.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies swept through Manchester in a bid to head off a follow-up to the ghastly attack. Manchester police said they will continue doing “extensive” searches to disband the “network” of suspects. Officials also raised the number of wounded Wednesday to 119.

Soldiers were replacing armed police on Wednesday at sites like Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and Parliament. London Police Commander Jane Connors said the goal was to “make our city as hostile an environment as possible for terrorists to plan and operate.” She said police also would be ready to respond quickly to any incidents with armed officers, and have added more armed police walking patrols.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Abedi a “soldier of the caliphate.” Abedi was believed to have traveled to Syria and had “proven” links with ISIS, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday on BFM television, adding that British and French intelligence have information that Abedi had been to Syria. He did not provide details, and said it was unclear whether Abedi was part of a larger network of attackers.

Abedi’s father told The Associated Press that his son was in Libya a month-and-a-half ago and was preparing to visit Saudi Arabia. Living in Tripoli, Ramadan Abedi said that his family “aren’t the ones who blow up ourselves among innocents.”

In addition to the three arrests in the south of Manchester, police also handcuffed a man at a house just a 10-minute walk from Abedi’s home — but they did not immediately confirm it was connected to the concert bombing. “There was a policeman, armed policeman, shouting at my neighbor … and I realized there is something wrong here … they arrested the father, and I think the rest of the family kind of disappeared,” neighbor Omar Alfa Khuri said, adding that he knew the arrested man from the local mosque.

Abedi had been known to security forces “up to a point,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.

Prime Minister Theresa May Wednesday chaired a meeting of her emergency security cabinet group, known as COBRA, to review intelligence reports about Abedi and concerns that he might have had outside support.

Britain raised its threat level to “critical,” which May said means an attack could come at any time. “This means that the assessment is that, not only is a further attack likely, but that it could be imminent.”

Police raided Abedi’s house earlier, using a controlled explosion to blast down the door. Neighbors recalled him as a tall, thin young man who often wore traditional Islamic dress and did not talk much.

Police also raided and searched a property elsewhere in Manchester where Abedi’s brother Ismail is thought to have lived. A 23-year-old man has also been arrested as part of the investigation but officials have released no details about him.

British soldiers have been deployed in place of police officers to guard high-profile sites such as Buckingham Palace and Parliament.

Abedi was born in Britain to a Libyan family, grew up in Manchester’s southern suburbs and attended the local Salford University for a time.

Officials are looking into how often Abedi had traveled to Libya, which has seen an eruption of armed Islamist groups since dictator Moammar Qaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. British officials have not commented on whether Abedi had links to ISIS or other extremist groups.

In addition to those killed in the concert attack, 64 people are being treated for their wounds, Jon Rouse of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said Wednesday.

He said some of the wounded had been discharged, but that the number of patients being treated had increased due to “walking wounded” who came in hours after the attack. Rouse said many of those hospitalized had serious wounds that would require “very long term care and support in terms of their recovery.”

Collomb, who spoke with May after the attack, said the two countries should continue cooperating closely on counterterrorism efforts despite Britain’s pending exit from the European Union.

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Fake Navy SEAL Gets 4 Years in Prison

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A 68-year-old Wisconsin man who falsely claimed to be a Navy SEAL wounded four times in Vietnam has been sentenced to four years in prison for theft and faking paperwork.

U.S. prosecutors say Kenneth E. Jozwiak produced fake discharge paperwork in 2014 to get U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pension benefits intended for low-income wartime veterans.

In 2014, Jozwiak submitted a discharge certificate that claimed he served as a Navy SEAL from 1965 to 1968 and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

All — including the four Purple Hearts for combat injuries — were totally false, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the northern district of Ohio.

Welcome to The Intel, a blog examining the hot military news of the day

Jozwiak pleaded guilty and was sentenced late last week to more than four years in prison, the U.S Attorney’s office said.

Jozwiak’s federal public defender didn’t immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.

His real military service was one year of a four-year enlistment from 1967 to 1968. He was never stationed overseas.

Afterward, Jozwiak embarked on a life as a serial grifter, according to a description of his criminal record.

“To say he had a lengthy criminal record is an understatement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Toepfer told the Union-Tribune.

“He has a criminal record dating back to 1975. He’s been arrested over 120 times in multiple states,” Toepfer said, adding that Jozwiak has had “literally dozens and dozens” of theft-related convictions.

What makes the Wisconsin man’s case stand out is the lengths to which he went to burnish the hero’s story he created for himself, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

“He was particularly public in how he did it,” Toepfer said. “He went as far as accompanying a child to an elementary school and representing himself as a Navy SEAL there and as having received all of these awards.”

The school was his stepson’s, according to court documents. Toepfer said it was akin to a “take a veteran to school” event.

The grand jury indictment says that when confronted with the fake discharge paperwork, Jozwiak said, “I never used that for anything, nothing. Never have.”

But he was briefly granted VA pension benefits totally nearly $2,300 in 2014 before the VA inspector general started investigating.

Jozniak also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and lying to investigators.

According to the indictment, he tried to convince his ex-wife to tell authorities that federal agents used an improper search warrant and stole lingerie from her bedroom during the search.

It’s hard to say how many so-called stolen valor cases occur each year. A spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington said his office doesn’t track these statistics.

Cases involving false claims of serving as a Navy SEAL are particularly scrutinized by the close-knit SEAL community headquartered in Coronado.

In a recent case that involved a former Southern California Marine, a man was convicted of lying about being injured in a bomb blast while serving in Iraq.

Using fake witness statements and a Purple Heart he didn’t earn, the former Marine was awarded disability checks and a mortgage-free house before being caught.

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China says no one should bring chaos to Korean peninsula

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China said on Wednesday no one had the right to bring chaos to the Korean peninsula, a day after it pushed for full implementation of U.N. sanctions against neighboring North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests and called for dialogue.

The United States has been trying to persuade China, North Korea’s lone major ally, to do more to rein in Pyongyang, which has conducted dozens of missile launches and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The North has proudly publicized its plans to develop a missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored calls to halt its weapons programs, even from China.

It says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression. Its last missile test was on Sunday.

“No matter which party it is, no one has the right to bring war and chaos upon the peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters after meeting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

He said anyone who did that would bear “historical responsibility”.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible and that all options are on the table, but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

China has been infuriated by the U.S. deployment of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, saying it is a threat to its own security and will do nothing to ease tensions with North Korea.

The United States and South Korea, which hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, have said the deployment is aimed purely at defending against the North Korean threat.

China fully implements its U.N. Security Council sanction commitments toward North Korea and will continue to play a constructive role in negotiations, Wang said.

Almost a month ago, Washington began discussions with China on strengthening U.N. sanctions. However, a week ago U.S. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Beijing had gone quiet.

Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions before involving the other 13 U.N. Security Council members.

The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 and ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

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Manchester terror attack: Police investigating ‘network’ of suspects; 4 in custody

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Four people were in custody Wednesday in connection with Monday’s deadly concert bombing, as British authorities continued to conduct “extensive” searches while investigating the “network” behind the attack.

“It is very clear that it is a network we are investigating,” Manchester police said on Wednesday.

British officials said they deployed nearly 1,000 military troops at high-profile sites in the country, some in London, instead of police. Manchester police said the increase in threat level gave the green light to deploy military support operation under the code name “Temperer.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies swept through Manchester in a bid to head off a follow-up to the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people. Manchester police said they will continue doing “extensive” searches to disband the “network” of suspects. Officials also raised the number of wounded Wednesday to 119.

Soldiers were replacing armed police on Wednesday at sites like Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street and Parliament. London Police Commander Jane Connors said the goal was to “make our city as hostile an environment as possible for terrorists to plan and operate.” She said police also would be ready to respond quickly to any incidents with armed officers, and have added more armed police walking patrols.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, is unlikely to have acted alone, officials said. In fact, investigators said he may have acted as a “mule,” hauling a shrapnel-packed explosive device that somebody else built, the BBC reported.

Abedi was believed to have traveled to Syria and had “proven” links with ISIS, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday on BFM television, adding that British and French intelligence have information that Abedi had been to Syria. He did not provide details, and said it was unclear whether Abedi was part of a larger network of attackers.

Abedi’s father told the Associated Press that his son was in Libya a month-and-a-half ago and was preparing to visit Saudi Arabia. Living in Tripoli, Ramadan Abedi said that his family “aren’t the ones who blow up ourselves among innocents.”

In addition to the three arrests in the south of Manchester, police also handcuffed a man at a house just a 10-minute walk from Abedi’s home — but they did not immediately confirm it was connected to the concert bombing. “There was a policeman, armed policeman, shouting at my neighbor … and I realized there is something wrong here … they arrested the father, and I think the rest of the family kind of disappeared,” neighbor Omar Alfa Khuri said, adding that he knew the arrested man from the local mosque.

Abedi had been known to security forces “up to a point,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.

Prime Minister Theresa May Wednesday chaired a meeting of her emergency security cabinet group, known as COBRA, to review intelligence reports about Abedi and concerns that he might have had outside support.

Britain raised its threat level to “critical,” which May said means an attack could come at any time. “This means that the assessment is that, not only is a further attack likely, but that it could be imminent.”

Police raided Abedi’s house earlier, using a controlled explosion to blast down the door. Neighbors recalled him as a tall, thin young man who often wore traditional Islamic dress and did not talk much.

Police also raided and searched a property elsewhere in Manchester where Abedi’s brother Ismail is thought to have lived. A 23-year-old man has also been arrested as part of the investigation but officials have released no details about him.

British soldiers have been deployed in place of police officers to guard high-profile sites such as Buckingham Palace and Parliament.

Abedi was born in Britain to a Libyan family, grew up in Manchester’s southern suburbs and attended the local Salford University for a time.

Officials are looking into how often Abedi had traveled to Libya, which has seen an eruption of armed Islamist groups since dictator Moammar Qaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. British officials have not commented on whether Abedi had links to ISIS or other extremist groups.

In addition to those killed in the concert attack, 64 people are being treated for their wounds, Jon Rouse of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said Wednesday.

He said some of the wounded had been discharged, but that the number of patients being treated had increased due to “walking wounded” who came in hours after the attack. Rouse said many of those hospitalized had serious wounds that would require “very long term care and support in terms of their recovery.”

Collomb, who spoke with May after the attack, said the two countries should continue cooperating closely on counterterrorism efforts despite Britain’s pending exit from the European Union.

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Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, May 23, 2017.       REUTERS/Remo Casilli

U.S. President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations.

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Manchester suicide bomber likely did not act alone, Britain says

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The Manchester suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert venue packed with children likely did not act alone, a minister said on Wednesday as soldiers were being deployed to key sites to help prevent further attacks.

The official threat level in Britain was raised late on Tuesday for the first time in a decade to its highest level, “critical”, meaning an attack could be imminent.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said up to 3,800 soldiers would be deployed on Britain’s streets, taking on guard duties at places like Buckingham Palace and Downing Street to free up police to focus on patrols and investigatory work.

Police have named British-born Salman Abedi, 22, as the perpetrator of the bombing at the Manchester Arena indoor venue at the end of Monday’s concert by U.S. pop singer Ariana Grande, attended by thousands of children and teenagers.

The identities of Abedi’s victims were becoming known little by little. They included an eight-year-old girl, several teenage girls and a 28-year-old man.

A Polish couple who had come to collect their daughters after the concert also died, Poland’s foreign minister said. The daughters were safe.

“It seems likely, possible, that he (Abedi) wasn’t doing this on his own,” Rudd told BBC radio. She also said Abedi had been known to security services before the bombing.

Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency response committee at her Downing Street office.

Abedi was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan origin, according to U.S. sources citing British contacts.

Asked about reports that Abedi had recently returned from Libya, Rudd said she believed that had now been confirmed.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said British investigators had told French authorities Abedi had probably traveled to Syria as well and that he had “proven links” to the Islamic State militant group.

France, which has repeatedly been hit by devastating militant attacks since 2015, extended emergency powers in the wake of the Manchester bombing.

Britain has a national election coming up on June 8 but all campaigning has been suspended since the bombing. Coverage of the attack and its aftermath has pushed out political news from the British media.

It was the deadliest attack in Britain since July 2005, when four British Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people in coordinated attacks on London’s transport network.

The Manchester bombing also left 64 people wounded, of whom 20 were receiving critical care for highly traumatic injuries to major organs and to limbs, a health official said.

WASHINGTON REBUKED OVER LEAKS

As Collomb was speaking in France, Rudd was asked by the BBC about the fact that information about Abedi, including his name, had come out from the United States and whether she would look again at information sharing with other countries.

“Yes, quite frankly. I mean the British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise, so it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that should not happen again.”

Asked whether the U.S. leaks had compromised the investigation, she said: “I wouldn’t go that far but I can say that they are perfectly clear about the situation and that it shouldn’t happen again.”

The British parliament, which is usually open to tourists, said it would close to the public with immediate effect due to the increased security threat and the closure would last until the advice changed.

Attacks in cities including Paris, Nice, Brussels, St Petersburg, Berlin and London have shocked Europeans already anxious over security challenges from mass immigration and pockets of domestic Islamic radicalism.

Islamic State, now being driven from territories in Syria and Iraq by Western-backed armed forces, claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack, but there appeared to be contradictions in its account of the operation.

The militant group has repeatedly called for attacks on Western countries as retaliation for their involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

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