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Officials: Mom Knew Her Son Mohammed Emwazi Was ‘Jihadi John’

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) — The mother of the man identified as “Jihadi John” recognized immediately from his voice that her son was the alleged killer when he appeared in his first beheading video in August, Kuwaiti government officials told ABC News.

The parents of Mohammed Emwazi, who were questioned recently in Kuwait, told authorities they last heard from their son in mid-2013 when he called them from Turkey. Emwazi said he was going to do humanitarian work in Syria, the parents said, according to the officials. Emwazi’s father, a former policeman, said he’s been waiting for news of his son’s death ever since.

Instead of doing humanitarian work, Emwazi allegedly linked up with ISIS and has appeared in videos online apparently beheading Westerners, including several who were actual humanitarians.

The FBI said in September it had identified the black clad figure known in the media as “Jihadi John”, but the identity was kept secret until it was reported last week.

Ever since, a complex picture is emerging of the alleged murderer’s life before ISIS. Born in Kuwait, Emwazi moved with his family to London when he was a boy.

A school picture captured what appeared to be an angelic smile, but a teacher told the BBC Emwazi had anger management issues, for which he eventually went to therapy.

A former boss of Emwazi’s in Kuwait, when Emwazi briefly lived there in 2010, told The Guardian that Emwazi was a stellar employee, “calm and decent.”

“He was the best employee we ever had,” the former boss said of the then 21-year-old.

Even later, a member of the British activist group CAGE told reporters he saw Emwazi as a “beautiful young man.”

But at the same time, Emwazi was linked by court documents to a number of alleged jihadists in London who purportedly supported a terror group in Somalia.

In recent years Emwazi had attempted to move back to Kuwait to pursue a computer science job there but was denied entry, according to an official with CAGE, with whom he corresponded. Instead, Emwazi is alleged to have eventually gone to join ISIS.

Now, a former ISIS fighter says Emwazi is being used by the terror group.

“ISIS play him like a piano, a celebrity to attract our Muslim brothers in Europe,” the fighter told the BBC. “But some think he is showing off, they think he is being used by ISIS.”

The fighter described Emwazi as cold and “strange” when the two met in Syria.

Still, Emwazi is a high-value target for American and coalition airstrikes. But authorities told ABC News he has been careful to avoid using computers or his cell phone, which could give away his location.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nugget of Knowldege

Skydiver Rescued in Mid-Air After Suffering Seizure

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 by

Posted in World News — The tense moments when a skydiver fell unconscious in mid-air were all caught on camera.

The skydiver, 22-year-old Christopher Jones, was doing a routine training dive to become a skydive instructor when he jumped from a plane 12,000 feet over Western Australia.

At 9,000 feet, Jones suddenly fell unconscious as he suffered a seizure in mid-air.

For 30 terrifying seconds, Jones, who suffers from epilepsy but believed his condition was under control, plummeted towards the ground at 124 miles per hour.

Jones, who was visibly convulsing during his descent, fell further and further away from his instructor, Sheldon McFarlane.

Just as Jones reached 4,000 feet, a quick-thinking McFarlane was able to reach Jones and pull his ripcord, releasing Jones’ parachute.

“I was just glad to get to him, stop him turning and make sure he had a parachute above his head,” said McFarlane, an instructor at the West Australia Skydiving Academy.

Jones said he regained consciousness another 1,000 feet after the rescue, at around 3,000 feet.

“Then the next thing I know I wake up at 3,000 feet, thankfully underneath a fully inflated parachute,” he said.

The near-death accident occurred last November while Jones was on stage five of what he calls the school’s Accelerated Free Fall program. He posted the video of his fall on YouTube Sunday, where it has already been viewed nearly four million times.

“He’s a hero. He’s a massive hero,” Jones said of McFarlane.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Boris Nemtsov Killing: Video Purportedly Shows Moment of Shooting

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 by

Posted in World News

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — A video broadcast on Russian state TV is purported to show the moment that opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down as he walked across a bridge near the Kremlin.

The surveillance camera video is grainy and shot from far away, so that the figures walking across the bridge are barely discernable. At the moment when TV Center, the station, which is controlled by the Moscow city government, says the shooting occurs, a snow plow blocks the view of the two people said to be Nemtsov and his companion.

ABC News has not independently confirmed the veracity of the video.

Nemtsov was shot multiple times in the back late Friday night, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee.

Russian news reports said that Nemtsov was walking with a female companion when a white car pulled up and fired on him before fleeing the scene.

ABC News

Unidentified killers fired “at least seven or eight shots” at Nemtsov when the politician was walking on Bolshoy Kammeny Bridge in central Moscow, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

“Witnesses to the killing are being questioned, and the crime scene is being carefully examined,” Markin said.

No one has been arrested for the killing. Investigators said they were looking into several possible motives and have offered 3 million rubles — nearly $50,000 — for information about the shooting.

Nemtsov was a former deputy prime minister under Putin during the 1990s, but fell out with the Russian president and formed Russia’s People’s Freedom Party.

The reason for the attack remains a mystery. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Putin was aware of the news and called it a provocation.

“Putin noted that this cruel murder has every sign of being a contract one which has solely provocative nature,” Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pet of the Week

Thousands March in Moscow Sunday in Honor of Slain Putin Rival

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images(MOSCOW) — Thousands of mourners marched in Moscow on Sunday to honor Boris Nemtsov, a political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was fatally shot outside the Kremlin Friday.

The march was scheduled prior to Nemtsov’s death, but it was originally intended to be a march for peace, against the war in Ukraine. Nemtsov was to lead the march. In light of his death, others went on with plans to march, with one extra cause in mind.

The BBC’s Olga Ivshina said on Sunday that those who marched “hope that this would change things, that this would trigger mass protest movement or this would trigger some changes within Russia.”

ABC’s Foreign Desk correspondent and former Moscow correspondent Kirit Radia said Sunday that the Russian government’s investigation is unlikely to be impartial. The Russian system, he notes, is one “where very few things happen by accident.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Astronauts Complete Third Spacewalk in Eight Days

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

3DSculptor/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Astronauts Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore completed their third spacewalk in eight days Sunday, finishing the installation of 400 feet of cable and multiple antennas that will eventually allow commercial spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station.

Sunday’s spacewalk took five hours and 38 minutes. It was Virts’ third spacewalk and Wilmore’s fourth.

In total, NASA says that crews have spent 1,171 hours and 29 minutes conducting 187 spacewalks for maintenance and assembly on the International Space Station.

For the second time in a week, Virts reported seeing some water in the helmet of his spacesuit, though it did not seem to be a major problem.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Crusin In Cruces

Assyrian Christians: A Look at the Religious Group Captured by ISIS

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS) — The world watched in horror last week as reports surfaced that ISIS militants captured as many as 350 Assyrian Christians in northeastern Syria.

It’s the latest assault by the terror group against religious minorities in the region, after a video released by ISIS online purported to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.

Watch the ABC News digital original video below to learn more about the Assyrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nine Airstrikes Launched Against ISIS Targets in Iraq, Syria

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S.-led forces continued to hit ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria with airstrikes, U.S. Central Command said Sunday.

According to Centcom, planes from the U.S. and partner nations launched two airstrikes near Al Hasakah in Syria. Those strikes hit a tactical unit and destroyed a pair of ISIS’ vehicles.

Seven more strikes took place in Iraq, four of them focused on the area near Mosul. In total, the strikes in Iraq hit four tactical units, an ISIS-controlled building and an excavator while destroying two buildings, a storage facility, two storage containers and two boats.

The strikes came one day after Centcom announced 20 airstrikes against ISIS targets.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Double Your Dollars

UN Releases Iraq Casualty Figures for February

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Marcio Silva/iStock/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) — More than 1,000 Iraqis were killed in acts of terrorism or violence in February, the United Nations says.

In its monthly report, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq notes that 1,103 Iraqis were killed in February and 2,280 more were injured in acts of terror or violence. That figure includes 611 civilians killed and 1,353 injured.

“Daily terrorist attacks perpetrated by [ISIS] continue to deliberately target all Iraqis,” Special Representative of U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said. He also mentioned “concerning reports of a number of revenge killings by armed groups in areas recently liberated” from ISIS.

Baghdad was the most heavily affected governorate with 329 civilians killed and 875 injured.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ISIS-Bound British Schoolgirls Spotted Waiting for Bus in Turkey

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Metropolitan Police, London(LONDON) — Three British schoolgirls who are believed to have flown to Turkey on their way to Syria in an effort to join ISIS were reportedly seen on surveillance video waiting for a bus the same day they left London.

The three girls — Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16 — were last seen February 17 when they boarded a flight from London’s Gatwick airport headed for Turkey. The surveillance video shows them waiting at a bus station on the European side of Istanbul later that same day, reports to the BBC.

Scotland Yard believes the Bethnal Green Academy students are now in Syria, having been met at the border by ISIS fighters, according to the BBC. Scotland Yard had previously said the girls were going to join ISIS.

Time codes on the surveillance video suggest the girls were at the bus station for about 18 hours, reports the BBC.

The girls’ relatives have made emotional pleas for them to return home.

“If you’re watching this, baby, please come home,” said Renu Begum, an older sister of one of the missing girls, Shamima Begum, told the BBC last week. “Mum needs you more than anything in the world. You’re our baby and we just want you home, we want you safe. Just contact anybody let them know that you need help.”

Abase Hussen, the father of Amira Abase, told the BBC his daughter told him she was going to a wedding when she left the family home.

A relative of Kadiza Sultana said “everyone’s hurting… especially mum.”

“Find the courage in your heart to contact us and let us know that you’re safe and you’re OK,” the relative said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Cuba-US Relations: Shared History and Values Overcome Differences, Diplomat Says

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by

Posted in World News

Ruskpp/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The history and values shared by the United States and Cuba can help the two countries overcome their differences, the island nation’s top diplomat tells ABC News.

Josefina Vidal, the Cuban diplomat leading the Cuban delegation in the talks to restore relations between the two countries, sat down exclusively with ABC News, following the second round of the negotiations.

“We think we can build coexistence, a civilized relationship between the United States, where we can respect each other’s differences and at the same time work together on issues of common interest between Cuba and the United States, as neighbors as are,” Vidal told ABC News.

The U.S. government has said since the announcement of restoration of ties in December that the best way to change Cuba is by opening it up to U.S. investments and people.

“We know that this is the way the United States government presents its policy toward Cuba, but we have another way to do that, so what we say is that we believe that no matter the differences we have, and we know that we have profound differences on certain issues, not on others, because we share a history, we share some values, we share culture traditions, between Cuba and the United States,” she said.

As the second round of talks came to an end Friday, Roberta Jacobson, leading the U.S. delegation, said the embassies in both countries could be reopened before the Summit of the Americas, which takes place on April 10-11 in Panama. Both presidents Obama and Raul Castro will be in attendance and it could be their first meeting since the announcement to restore diplomatic ties in December.

“We would like to see the resumption of diplomatic relations soon,” Vidal said. “No matter if the summit of the Americas takes place or not, but you are right that we think, we should try and have this problem solved as quick as we can.”

One of the biggest issues for the Cuban government in moving forward is their listing as a State Sponsor of Terrorism by the State Department, which impacts their inability to bank at their current Interest Section in Washington, D.C.

While listed as a state sponsor of terror, they are unable to use any credit and must operate fully in cash.

“More and more banks have been fined because having operations, banking operations with Cuba,” she said. “As a result of this phenomenon problem, its more and more difficult to find a bank that wants to have a relationship with Cuba, and this has affected our office in Washington, that has been lacking financial resources for a year now … They don’t have credit cards, they don’t have debit cards, they have to operate in cash, which is something almost impossible to do in the United States.

“What we were told yesterday is that they have been working really hard, talking to different banks, not only American banks, but also foreign banks, to try to see if there can be a solution in the following, in the next few weeks,” she said. “We hope there is a solution, because we tell them that this situation is difficult to maintain, and it would be almost impossible to open a regular, normal embassy in Washington, Cuban embassy, without a bank.”

Vidal said at a press conference Friday that the U.S. taking Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terror is not a precondition for opening an embassy, but that the issue is a priority for the Cuban government.

She told ABC News Saturday that Cuba has never sponsored terrorism or those affiliated with terrorism toward any country.

“It has always been a political decision, not a decision based on real facts. Because it’s a fact of life that from the territory of Cuba, terrorism has never been organized, financed, or executed or implemented toward any country in the world, including the United States,” Vidal said. “We have always considered the inclusion of Cuba in that list has been unjust, has been unfounded, and has been based on political considerations that have no room, have no reason to continue in this moment where we are trying to build a new relation between our two countries.”

The State Department is conducting a review of that listing and is expected to present its findings to Obama soon. Once that happens, the president will make a recommendation and submit it to Congress.

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Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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