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Raids, arrests as on-edge UK seeks ‘network’ of attackers

Among those taken into custody in Libya were the suspected bomber’s father and his younger brother, the latter of whom confessed to knowing “all the details” of the attack plot, Libyan anti-terror authorities said.

The Associated Press

MANCHESTER, England Security forces rounded up more suspects Wednesday in the deadly Manchester concert blast and soldiers fanned out across the country to national landmarks as an on-edge Britain tried to thwart the possibility of additional attacks.

Officials scoured the background of the British-born ethnic Libyan identified as the bomber, saying he was likely part of a wider terrorist network. Additional arrests were made both in Britain and in Libya in the bombing that killed 22 people and wounded scores more.

Among those taken into custody in Libya were the suspected bomber’s father and his younger brother, the latter of whom confessed to knowing “all the details” of the attack plot, Libyan anti-terror authorities said.

“I think it’s very clear this is a network we are investigating,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Manchester Police said as authorities raided British properties thought to be connected to Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old suspected bomber who grew up in Manchester and died in the attack.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Abedi “likely” did not act alone in the strike at the close of an Ariana Grande concert Monday night and that he had been known to security forces “up to a point.” Meanwhile, officials probed possible travel by the alleged bomber, looking for clues to new threats.

Government officials said nearly 1,000 soldiers were deployed to Buckingham Palace, Parliament and other high-profile sites across the country. Britain’s terror threat level was raised to “critical” the highest level on Tuesday over concern another attack could be imminent.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Abedi was believed to have traveled to Syria and had “proven” links to the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack. British officials, however, have not commented on whether Abedi had links to IS or other extremist groups.

British authorities were probing whether Abedi had ties to other cells across Europe and North Africa, according to two officials familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the ongoing investigation.

They said one thread of the inquiry involved pursuing whether Abedi was part of a larger terror cell that included Mohamed Abrini, otherwise known as “the man in the hat,” with connections to the Brussels and Paris attacks. Abrini visited Manchester in 2015.

“It looks like we’re not dealing with a lone wolf situation. There’s a network a cell of ISIS-inspired terrorists,” said U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He said the bomb’s construction suggested a “level of sophistication” that might indicate foreign training.

Six additional arrests were made in Britain on Wednesday as the sprawling investigation extended to Libya, where Abedi’s father and 18-year-old brother were detained in Tripoli. The father, Ramadan Abedi, denied his son had links to militants in an interview with The Associated Press before he was taken into custody, saying, “We don’t believe in killing innocents.”

The elder Abedi was allegedly a member of the al-Qaida-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting group in the 1990s, according to a former Libyan security official, Abdel-Basit Haroun.

The Libyan anti-terror force that arrested the men said in a statement that the brother, Hashim Abedi, 18, confessed that he and his brother were linked to the Islamic State group and that he was aware of the arena bombing plan. The anti-terror force said the father had not been charged, but was taken in for questioning.

A second brother, Ismail Abedi, 23, was taken into custody in Manchester a day earlier.

The suspected bomber grew up in Manchester’s southern suburbs and once attended Salford University there. Neighbors recalled him as tall, thin and quiet, and said he often wore traditional Islamic dress. Among investigators’ areas of interest is how often Abedi traveled to Libya, which has seen an eruption of armed Islamist groups since dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Before his arrest, Abedi’s father said he had last spoken to his son five days ago and he sounded “normal.” He said his son was getting ready to visit Saudi Arabia for a short Umrah pilgrimage then planned to head to Libya to spend the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with his family. He said his son last visited Libya about six weeks ago and had never gone to Syria. He denied ties to any militant groups or suggestions of extremism.

“We aren’t the ones who blow up ourselves among innocents,” he said. “We go to mosques. We recite Quran, but not that.”

At Manchester’s Didsbury Mosque, where the Abedi family worshipped, the bombing was condemned and reports that the suspected bomber had worked there were denied. Azhar Mahmoud, who prays at the mosque in southern Manchester, said it was “horrible” that Abedi was associated with it.

“Wherever he got that, he didn’t get it from this mosque,” he said, adding that the imam regularly preached against radicalization.

British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting Wednesday of her emergency security cabinet group to talk about intelligence reports on Abedi and concerns that he might have had outside support. Police raided homes believed to be connected with the investigation.

At one apartment building in Manchester, heavily armed police swarmed in and a controlled explosion was heard. At another property, a house a 10-minute walk from where Abedi lived, neighbors said they were awakened by a loud noise and saw a man hauled away in handcuffs.

“There was a policeman, armed policeman, shouting,” neighbor Omar Alfa Khuri said. “And I realized there is something wrong here.”

Across London, troops fanned out and authorities reconsidered security plans. The changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace was canceled so police officers could be re-deployed. The Palace of Westminster, which houses Parliament, was shuttered to those without passes, and tours and events were canceled until further notice. Armed police patrolled outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, another popular tourist spot.

For a second night, a throng of people filled a Manchester square for a vigil for the victims. Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders echoed a message that extremists wouldn’t drive a wedge among the city’s religious groups. People lifted their hands in the air during a moment of silence.

“There are no divisions here tonight,” Irfan Chishti, the imam of Manchester’s biggest mosque, told the crowd.

Officials said all of the bombing victims have been identified, but names were being withheld until autopsies were completed.

Still, their stories began to emerge: Michelle Kiss, a mother of three whose “family was her life;” Nell Jones, an “always smiling” teenager; Martyn Hett, who packed life “to the brim with his passions;” Jane Tweddle, a “bubbly, kind, welcoming” receptionist. The youngest known of those killed was just 8. Besides the dead, the number of people who sought medical help after the attack was raised to 119. Officials said 64 people remained hospitalized, including 20 who were critically injured.

Eastern Iowa Airport Commission approves $30.8 million terminal renovation contract Cedar Rapids construction …

Cedar Rapids construction company lands ‘biggest project we’ve ever done’

May 22, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Print View

CEDAR RAPIDS The Eastern Iowa Airport Commission has approved a more than $30 million contract for the third phase of the airport s massive terminal renovation effort. The commission on Monday unanimously approved a $30.8 million contract with Kleiman Construction Inc. of Cedar Rapids for the project, which includes an expansion of the security checkpoint from two lanes to four and addition of a second floor about 54,000 square feet to the terminal s B concourse. Todd Gibbs, director of operations, said the project will bring the terminal into the 21st century, and represents the single largest project in the airport s 70 years.

It s a big project, it s the biggest project we ve ever done, Gibbs said.

In addition to the expansion, the project also includes plans for a roof replacement on the terminal, adding another loading bridge and some interior work. Plans also call for the addition of solar voltaic panels on the roof and a new security breach door, Gibbs said. The project will require coordination with the Transportation Security Administration for the temporary relocation of the airport s security checkpoint, to maintain secure screening. Kleiman Construction was the lowest of four companies to bid on the project, with the highest coming in at about $33 million.

The commission on Monday also approved a task order with Foth Infrastructure & Environment LLC not to exceed $1.9 million for construction administration duties for the phase three project.

Phase four of the project, for which planning won t begin until next year, could include updates to airport parking.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; [email protected]

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The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors

Will Parrish 2017-05-18 The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors Photo by Oceti Sakowin Camp on Flickr

In February, a federal grand jury issued indictments of four Standing Rock water protectors on charges of Federal Civil Disorder and Use of Fire to Commit a Federal Crime. The federal investigators accused the four men James White, Brennan Nastacio, Dion Ortiz, and Brandon Miller-Castillo of involvement in setting three highway barricades on fire, which obstructed police during a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the Front Line Camp just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Another water protector, Michael Markus, was indicted on identical charges on January 24, and his case has been combined with those of the other four men. Prosecutors are also pursuing three federal felonies against a 38-year-old Oglala Sioux woman named Red Fawn Fallis. They accuse her of firing a gun during her arrest, even as multiple police officers had her pinned face-down on the ground. Fallis arrest also occurred on October 27.

These cases likely mark the first time that United States authorities have pursued felonies against individuals involved in demonstrations against fossil fuel infrastructure. All six people facing the charges are indigenous. Under sentencing guidelines, Red Fawn Fallis faces 25 years or more in prison. The other federal defendants Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo face up to fifteen years. Starting in August of last year, indigenous people and their allies devoted months to attempting to block the construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs through four Midwestern states near North Dakota s Standing Rock Sioux reservation and underneath their main water source, Lake Oahe.

The project sparked opposition in communities spanning the pipeline route, including in Iowa and Illinois. In North Dakota, police carried out over 700 arrests. State prosecutors have since brought felony charges against more than 100 people. But the federal cases are arguably more serious, since they entail prosecutions by some of the U.S. government s most elite attorneys and may result in lengthy prison sentences. The cases are also likely to exert a chilling effect on indigenous-led resistance to resource extraction and fossil fuel infrastructure. In fact, in each case, the U.S. Attorneys for the District of North Dakota filed a most unusual charge: federal civil disorder.

Nobody I ve worked with previously has ever seen that charge, the Water Protector Legal Collective s Sandra Freeman, an attorney for Michael Markus, said in an interview. It comes from a law that is usually only invoked when the federal government decides to prosecute people involved in resistance.

The National Lawyers Guild s Bruce Ellison, the lead attorney for Red Fawn Fallis, agrees. He says he has only encountered federal civil disorder charges a few times before, including during federal prosecutions of American Indian Movement (AIM) activists who reclaimed Wounded Knee as part of an armed stand-off with federal and local police on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973. Ellison is a long-time attorney for AIM political prisoner Leonard Peltier. Records obtained via an open records request indicate high-level operatives within the U.S. domestic security state were involved in coordinating the enormous law enforcement mobilization against Standing Rock water protectors from last summer through early March of this year.

These records, which will be the subject of future stories, show officers from numerous federal agencies the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Marshal s Service, and the U.S. Attorney s Office for North Dakota coordinated with state and local police as part of an inter-agency intelligence group that monitored Standing Rock protests in real-time, with a focus on ferreting out instigators and leaders of the movement. Among those who helped orchestrate this multi-agency intelligence effort was National Security Intelligence Specialist Terry W. Van Horn of the U.S. Attorney s Office the same entity now prosecuting Fallis, Markus, White, Nastacio, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo. The intelligence-gathering operation in which Van Horn participated appears to have been coordinated by the State and Local Intelligence Center, one of numerous law enforcement fusion centers set up by the US Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors

Screen shot of Terry VanHorn emails

Supporters of the six federal defendants, as well as others facing possible prison and jail sentence, say that their court cases are a major front in the struggle for indigenous self-determination and against resource extraction.

The government is looking at how to deal with calls for indigenous self-determination and resistance to resource extraction nationally, and the people facing these charges could become symbols of their ability to carry out that repression, Ellison contends.

The October 27 Raid On Front Line Camp

The six federal prosecutions all stem from a highly-militarized October 27 raid of the Front Line Camp, or 1851 Treaty Camp, which occupied some of the last remaining ground in the pipeline s construction. The camp was located on unceded Dakota territory, which was affirmed in the 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty to be part of the Standing Rock Reservation. It was later stripped away under an 1889 statute from Congress. Over 300 police officers some carrying M16 rifles and clad in flak vests advanced down North Dakota Highway 1806 toward Oceti Sakowin camp, the main nerve center of the water protectors resistance to the pipeline.

The police were flanked by a MaxxPro Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP) designed to withstand bombing attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), an extremely loud device used for crowd control, was mounted atop the MRAP. Snipers occupied positions on surrounding hills. In the course of the raid, the police police fired tear gas and concussion grenades and peppered the water protectors with rubber-tipped bullets and bean bag pellets, causing dozens of injuries. Four officers broke from the line to tackle and arrest Red Fawn Fallis, a Denver resident and lifelong member of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, whose family hails from the Oglala Sioux reservation at Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

As Fallis struggled under the weight of her arresting officers, at least two gunshots went off alongside her. According to an affidavit filed by the Pennington County Sheriff s Department in North Dakota, a deputy saw a gun in Fallis left hand and wrestled it away from her. The Pennington County Sheriff s Department claims Fallis was arrested for being an instigator and acting disorderly. According to attorneys for protesters, instigator and camp leader have emerged as keywords in both state and federal prosecutions.

Fallis was initially charged with attempted murder, but a state judge removed that charge from the docket, and she is now being accused of three federal felonies. They include possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharge of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence. According to numerous accounts, Fallis was a widely-respected coordinator at the Sacred Stone Camp, another major gathering place for prayerful opposition to the pipeline, and had played an instrumental role in the movement as a whole.

Red Fawn was the kind of person who was down to help with anything at any time, says one camp participant who asked not to be identified. She was integral to the camp. Many water protectors and members of Fallis s family have organized a support campaign for her. They stridently maintain her innocence.

Glenn Morris, a leader of the Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement, released a statement on behalf of Fallis s family this past November, saying she is an intelligent, informed and determined Oglala Lakota woman, who has defended the rights of native peoples and nations, in multiple circumstances.

Water Protector Facing Federal Felony Charges For Disarming DAPL Contractor

One of the other people facing federal felony charges, Brennan Nastacio, became a hero to water protectors for his dramatic role in disarming a DAPL security worker, who had entered Oceti Sakowin camp a base of prayer and opposition to DAPL wielding an AR-15. The security guard, Kyle Thompson, drove into the camp and claimed to be a water protector, according to a camp security guard. He had a long-nosed semi-automatic rifle and a 30-round clip seated in the passenger seat of his truck. Nastacio spent nearly a half hour pleading with Thompson to abandon the weapon while also calming other water protectors, who were clamoring around him. Thompson, who works for Texas-based Leighton Security, finally handed the gun over to Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, who arrested him. Soon after, Thompson s truck was driven to a barricade and set on fire.

North Dakota prosecutors declined to charge Thompson instead charging Nastacio with felony terrorizing of Thompson because he briefly walked toward him with a hunting knife during the incident. In a January YouTube video, Nastacio noted his goal was the protection of everybody at the camp, and that he was concerned Thompson himself would be shot by the police. Thompson claims he came to the camp to investigate vandalism to a DAPL vehicle. Ironically, on the same day as Nastacio helped disarm the Dakota Access security worker, a security firm hired by Dakota Access collected the aerial surveillance photos that now form a major basis for federal prosecution of him, as well as of Miller-Castillo, Ortiz, Markus, and White, court records show. (*Note: This public-private fusion model of law enforcement that played out at Standing Rock will be the subject of future stories.)

Ellison, Fallis s attorney, is attempting to introduce evidence that demonstrates the dubious role the FBI has played in the charges against Fallis.

Terry VanHorn of the U.S. Attorney s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Role Of The FBI In Suppressing Opposition To The Pipeline

The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors

No DAPL emergency rally on February 8, 2017 (Photo by Stephen Melkisethian)

Police in North Dakota went to enormous lengths to portray many anti-DAPL protesters as violent criminals for their role in the protests. More recently, the allegations against Fallis, Nastacio, Markus, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo have become fodder for domestic security agency warnings about potentially violent threat posed by protests against other fossil fuel infrastructure. A Department of Homeland Security report, published[1] by the conservative Washington Examiner on April 18, spells out the possibility that environmental rights extremists and anti-government militia may muster up attacks on the in-construction Diamond Pipeline extending from Oklahoma to Tennessee.

The report states that [p]rotests surrounding the DAPL have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of individuals for allegedly committing criminal acts, and that [o]ne individual was charged with attempted murder for allegedly discharging a firearm at officers during removal efforts. But water protectors and their advocates point out that the real criminals at Standing Rock were the police and the oil companies private security firms, who consistently used violent repression to sabotage constitutionally-protected political activity. Meanwhile, the federal government has failed to hold the police accountable for a single act of violence.

The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors

Drone footage captures police spraying Dakota Access Pipeline protesters with a water cannon. On a single night in November, the police injured more than 300 unarmed and generally highly-restrained protesters by spraying water on them amid freezing temperatures and firing rubber bullets and concussion grenades. A police officer struck 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky with a concussion grenade that nearly severed her forearm. A fellow water protector named Steve Martinez drove her to the hospital, where she underwent emergency surgeries in an effort to save her arm.

On the day after Wilansky nearly lost her arm, seven FBI agents including two clad in Joint Terrorism Task Force jackets came to her hospital room and collected articles of clothing and shrapnel freshly dislodged from her arm. They also subpoenaed hospital visitor logs and videos of her room. The JTTF visit created a chilling atmosphere where anyone who s a protester is under suspicion of being a terrorist, Sophia Wilansky s father, Wayne Wilansky, says. The same grand jury that has indicted Fallis, Markus, Nastacio, White, Ortiz, and Miller-Castillo on felony charges subpoenaed Steve Martinez soon afterward. The subpoena implied that a federal investigation of the extremely far-fetched claim that Wilansky s injury was caused by an improvised explosive was underway, and that Martinez was a subject of that investigation simply because he had driven Wilansky to seek medical attention.

It ordered Martinez to produce, among other things, photos and SD cards; written statements; and any other information in [his] possession. Martinez appeared before the grand jury on January 4th and was asked a single question: When did you arrive in North Dakota? He immediately invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify. In a written statement, Martinez, who is partly of Pueblo and Apache ancestry, called the grand jury a fishing expedition to find out information about the water protector movement, and organizations and people related to it, and asserted that to comply with this subpoena would violate my spiritual duty to protect my loved ones.

Martinez was expected to begin a jail sentence for contempt of court on March 1, but in late February, the U.S. Attorney s office unexpectedly withdrew its subpoena of him, meaning he s free for now. About 20 supporters nevertheless gathered in front of the courthouse on March 1 holding up banners with slogans, such as The Frontlines Are in the Courtroom. The Water Protector Legal Collective, the Freshet Collective, and other volunteer-driven collectives have provided legal support and advice for the water protectors now slogging through various court cases. Notwithstanding the temporary victory in Steve Martinez case, members of the collectives say they intend to continue support for those whose sacrifices made the water protector movement possible in their various courtroom-related struggles.

The History Of The Federal Civil Disorder Charge

The civil disorder statute used against the six federal defendants can be traced to Martin Luther King, Jr. s assassination in 1968, which spurred Congress to pass the US Civil Rights Act one week after his death. It was passed in the aftermath of riots across the country in protest against substandard living conditions in segregated Black communities. The best known section of the act is Title VIII, known as the Fair Housing Act, which was designed to end residential segregation and promote racial integration. But a little-remembered section of the bill, Title X, is known as the Civil Obedience Act. U.S. Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, an avowed segregationist, was the amendment s main author and offered it as a quid pro quo for his support of the legislation as a whole.

The amendment created stiff penalties for such activities as interfering with law enforcement officials during the course of civil disorder. Long previously offered up the Civil Obedience Act as an amendment to a bill that would have specified punishments for violence against civil rights workers in the Deep South. Biographer Michael S. Martin recalled in his book, Russell Long: A Life in Politics, a speech Long made to the Senate floor, in which he described the pro-civil rights worker legislation as a bill to aid and abet H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael, in reference to leaders of the Black Power movement. He also claimed the people the bill supported were known to stir up hatred and ill will among people of their race and put cities to the torch.

In response, Long proposed the Civil Obedience Act as a means to strike the very thing which really concerns the people of this country: the rights and the safety of 200 million Americans whose property and whose very lives have been seriously endangered. Nearly a half-century later, the federal government is using this same racially-charged legislation to pursue felony charges against six indigenous people at Standing Rock. Ellison recalled one of the few previous times he encountered Federal Civil Disorder charges was during prosecutions of AIM activists in the 1970s. He experienced first-hand the murderous FBI-coordinated counter-insurgency campaign against AIM at Pine Ridge, he noted, whereby a paramilitary organization known as the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOONs) went on a rampage of beatings and assassinations of AIM leaders and supporters.

Federal prosecutions are viewed as one aspect of an escalating effort by domestic security agencies, police, politicians, and fossil fuel industries to break the spirit of resistance movements nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said more than 30 separate anti-protest bills were introduced since November 8, representing an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century.

The government is looking at how to deal with protests nationally, and these federal prosecutions are certainly a part of that, Ellison concluded.

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The Federal Government Is Trying To Imprison These Six Water Protectors

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