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Aug 31, 2014

Libyan armed faction takes over U.S. embassy annex in Tripoli

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of a Libyan militia have taken over an annex of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli but have not broken into the main compound where the United States evacuated all of its staff last month, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

A YouTube video showed the breach of the vacated diplomatic facility by an armed group from the northwestern city of Misrata, with dozens of fighters seen crowding around a swimming pool and some diving in from the balcony of a nearby building.

Aug 30, 2014

Captives held by Islamic State prove tough quandary for Obama

WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – After Islamic State’s
beheading of journalist James Foley, President Barack Obama’s
administration is making little headway in efforts to secure the
release of three other Americans held by the insurgent group in
Syria, officials said.

Journalist Steven Sotloff and two others whom Reuters is not
naming are among fewer than 10 Westerners that Islamic State
(IS) is holding in kidnappings that until recently were aimed at
simply raising ransoms, they said. The U.S. government has said
it does not pay ransoms or negotiate with IS.

Aug 29, 2014

U.S. says no precise threat to homeland from Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is not aware of any specific threat to the U.S. homeland from Islamic State militants, the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday after Britain raised its international terrorism threat level.

Islamic State militants and their supporters, however, “have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. He noted that DHS took steps over the summer to strengthen security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.

Aug 28, 2014

U.S. National Security Council aware of reports that second American killed in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Council on Wednesday said it was aware of media reports that a second American associated with Islamic State militant fighters had been killed in Syria, but it could not confirm the death.

The reports came a day after a U.S. official said Douglas McAuthur McCain, of the Minneapolis area, was suspected of fighting alongside militants who were trying to carve out their own state in Iraq and Syria, and that he had died there.

Aug 22, 2014

U.S. undercover investigators among those exposed in data breach

BOSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A cyber attack at a firm that performs background checks for U.S. government employees compromised data of at least 25,000 workers, including some undercover investigators, and that number could rise, agency officials said on Friday.

The breach at Falls Church, Virginia-based US Investigations Services (USIS) exposed highly personal information of workers at the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters as well as its U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection units, two officials familiar with the investigation into the breach told Reuters.

Aug 21, 2014

U.S. opens criminal probe of journalist Foley’s death: Holder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of the death of American journalist James Foley, Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.

Foley was beheaded by the Islamist militant group Islamic State, an act shown in a video released on Tuesday in which the group called for the United States to end its air strikes in Iraq. President Barack Obama responded that the United States would be relentless in fighting the organization despite the killing.

Aug 15, 2014

Iraq’s Islamic fighters profit from oil sales: U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq are selling oil from oilfields and refineries they control to local communities and smugglers, augmenting their existing ample finances, U.S. intelligence officials said on Thursday.

At least some of the oil is used to fuel a power plant they seized after the radical Islamists captured large tracts of Iraq including the country’s second city Mosul, killing thousands and causing hundreds of thousands to flee, the officials said.

Aug 11, 2014

U.S. begins direct arms shipments to Kurdish forces

WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. government is
directly supplying weapons to Peshmerga fighters from Iraq’s
semiautonomous Kurdish region to help them fight Sunni
militants, in a deepening of America’s military involvement in
Iraq, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The Kurdish fighters are struggling to stem advances by
militants from the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot.

Aug 11, 2014

U.S. begins direct arms shipments to Kurdish forces: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is directly supplying weapons to Peshmerga fighters from Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region to help them fight Sunni militants, in a deepening of America’s military involvement in Iraq, U.S. government sources said on Monday.

The weapons shipments to Arbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, come as Kurdish fighters struggle to stem advances by militants from the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot.

Aug 7, 2014

Kurds use well-oiled lobbying to plead for help in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When radical Islamic forces threatening to dismember Iraq unexpectedly captured several towns from the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters last weekend, the Kurds’ public relations machine quickly seized on the setback to boost their case in Washington.

“This justifies all the reasons why the Pentagon should help beef up the Peshmerga forces by providing such sophisticated arms,” Karwan Zebari, the Kurdish government spokesman in the United States, told Reuters.