Trump says he intends to allow release of classified files on Kennedy assassination

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President Trump said Saturday that he intends to allow the release of long-classified files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy, a move that could shed light on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades.

The National Archives has until Oct. 26 to disclose the remaining thousands of never-seen government documents on the 1963 assassination, unless Trump changes course and tries to block their release.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

However, to what additional information the president was referring was unclear.

The CIA and FBI, whose records make up the bulk of the batch, won’t say whether they’ve appealed to the Trump administration to keep them under wraps.

“The American public deserves to know the facts, or at least they deserve to know what the government has kept hidden from them for all these years,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, said in an email to The Associated Press.

It’s unlikely the documents contain any big revelations about Kennedy’s killing, said Judge John Tunheim, who was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret.

Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing.

During the trip, Oswald visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies.

His stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, much about the trip remains unknown.

Among the protected information up for release is details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota.

Kennedy experts also hope to see the full report on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination, said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which publishes assassination records.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The FBI declined to comment on whether it has asked Trump to keep the files hidden. A CIA spokeswoman would say only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information.”

Congress mandated in 1992 that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, unless the president asserts that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. The still-secret documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released previously, but with redactions.

The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed “not believed relevant,” Tunheim said. Its members sought to ensure they weren’t hiding any information directly related to Kennedy’s assassination, but there may be nuggets of information in the files that they didn’t realize was important two decades ago, he said.

“There could be some jewels in there because in our level of knowledge in the 1990s is maybe different from today,” Tunheim said.

The National Archives would not say whether any agencies have appealed the release of the documents.

The Archives in July published online more than 440 never-before-seen assassination documents and thousands of others that had been released previously with redactions.

Among those documents was a 1975 internal CIA memo that questioned whether Oswald became motivated to kill Kennedy after reading an AP article in a newspaper that quoted Fidel Castro as saying “U.S. leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba.”

“Oswald might have had a clear motive, one that we have never really understood for killing Kennedy, because he thought that by killing Kennedy he might be saving the life of Fidel Castro,” said Philip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter who has written a book about Kennedy’s assassination.

Some of the files will likely remain under wraps, experts say.

It’s unlikely the National Archives will release some IRS records, including the tax returns of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Oswald, Bradford said.

Sabato said he also suspects that some key records may also have been destroyed before the 1992 law ordered that all the files be housed in the National Archives.

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Philippines: Muslima arrested for recruiting for the Islamic State on social media

“IPAC said she started appearing on Indonesian Telegram groups in August 2015 and aggressively advertised her various accounts on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to ISIS sympathisers around the world.”

No problem. Facebook, Twitter and the rest only shadowban and choke off the platforms of people who are opposed to jihad terror, not those who are recruiting for it.

Philippine security forces have arrested a 36-year-old Filipino woman suspected of recruiting, via social media, fighters from around the world for the ultra-radical Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Karen Aizha Hamidon was arrested in Taguig city, an hour east of the capital Manila, on Oct 11, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre announced at a news conference on Wednesday (Oct 18).

Mr Aguirre said Hamidon was formerly the wife of Singaporean Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek, a security guard detained in Singapore in August 2015 for planning to join ISIS and using social media to incite violence.

However, in a statement late on Wednesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said Hamidon and Shamin were not married. “MHA is in touch with the Philippines authorities on this latest arrest,” the ministry said.

Hamidon later married Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, a Filipino, who led ISIS-linked Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines till he was killed by police in January this year, according to Mr Aguirre.

Mr Aguirre said Hamidon was also a close associate of Musa Cerantonio, an Australian Islamist preacher who was purportedly recruiting fighters for ISIS.

Rebellion charges are being readied against Hamidon in relation to 296 social media posts linked to her seeking to recruit reinforcements for besieged Muslim militants in the war-torn southern city of Marawi….

“It is very clear that her actions are in conspiracy, or in sync, with actions of the rebels. While her companions are fighting in Marawi, her part is to further recruit fighters to assist in the Marawi siege by the ISIS and Maute groups,” said Mr Aguirre….

Mohammad Sirajuddin, 33, a marketing manager with the Indian Oil Corporation arrested in December 2015, said it was Hamidon who first contacted him on Facebook and WhatsApp and convinced him to join ISIS in Syria.

A profile provided by India’s National Investigation Agency said Hamidon’s father was a Muslim. He died when she was 20 years old. Her mother was a Christian, and brought her up as a Christian. But she and her two sisters converted to Islam about 10 years ago.

According to a recent report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Hamidon had been dismissed by many in ISIS-inspired chat groups as a spy.

IPAC said she started appearing on Indonesian Telegram groups in August 2015 and aggressively advertised her various accounts on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to ISIS sympathisers around the world.

One of the Telegram groups she took part in was BUG, or Baqiyah United Group, created by an Indonesian woman, Aisyah Lina, whose husband was later arrested for terrorism. Lina then added Hamidon and Sirajuddin….

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US-Backed Force Formally Declares Victory Over ISIS in Syria

This Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 frame grab made from drone video shows damaged buildings in Raqqa, Syria two days after Syrian Democratic Forces said that military operations to oust the Islamic State group have ended and that their

BEIRUT — A U.S.-backed Syrian force has declared victory over the Islamic State group in its former “capital” of Raqqa, declaring the city free of any extremist presence.

At a press conference held inside the city Friday, the Kurdish-led force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces formally handed over administration of the city in northern Syria to a council made up of local officials and tribal leaders.

“Our victory is one against terrorism,” said Talal Sillo, a spokesman and senior SDF commander.

The press conference was held inside the city’s sports stadium which Islamic State militants had turned into a huge prison where they incarcerated and tortured their opponents.

Sillo urged the international community and aid organizations to assist with the city’s reconstruction

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11:15 a.m.

Russia’s military says a recent travel warning by the U.S. State Department proves Moscow’s argument that Syrian militants — and not the Syrian government — have used chemical weapons.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning on Wednesday, saying that the tactics of the extremists in Syria include the use of chemical weapons among other things.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the travel warning proves Moscow’s point that the extremists, not the Syrian government, are to blame for a deadly chemical weapons attack in a town in Syria’s east.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons earlier this month said it had found traces of sarin following an attack in northern Syria in March, days before a deadly strike using the same nerve agent in Khan Sheikhoun. The government has denied responsibility for that attack.

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10:50 a.m.

A U.S.-backed Syrian force is expected to declare victory in the northern city of Raqqa days after it said it cleared it from members of the Islamic State group.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces is scheduled to hold a news conference at noon Friday during which the city will be declared free of extremists.

The SDF is also expected to hand over authority in the city to a local council and a 3,000-member police force made up mostly of residents of Raqqa province.

The fall of Raqqa marks a major defeat for IS, which has seen its territories steadily shrink since last year. IS took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in January 2014, and transformed it into the epicenter of its brutal rule.

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At least 150 paramilitary personnel killed, injured during clashes in Kirkuk

Kirkuk – At least 150 paramilitary personnel were killed and injured during clashes that occurred between Kurdish troops against Iraqi troops in Kirkuk.

A statement by the command of Kurdish Peshmerga troops in western Kirkuk axis said, “al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces] attacked our troops using U.S.-made weapons”

“The confrontations left two U.S. tanks and an armored vehicle destroyed,” the statement said adding “more than 150 armed PMFs personnel were killed and injured.”

Earlier on Friday, Iraqi government forces approached the southern borders of Erbil, capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, shortly after engaging in clashes with the region’s forces in Qushtapa, a region extending along the southern borders of Erbil, and Altun Kupri in northern Kirkuk.

Iraqi troops, backed by PMFs, took over Kirkuk province from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters rarlier this week, fulfilling instructions previously made by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to retake areas where sovereignty is disputed with Kurdistan Region’s Government.

The Iraqi military command said it became in control over all of the province’s oil fields, military bases and government facilities. The military takeover came after Kurdistan voted in September to secede from Iraq.

A medical official in Sulaymaniyah was quoted last week saying that Peshmerga deaths since the Iraqi incursion in Kirkuk stood at 84, with more than 160 wounded.

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