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Sep 25, 2014

Militant in Syria beheading videos identified: FBI

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A masked Islamic State militant seen wielding a knife in videos at the beheading of two Americans has been identified, FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday, but he declined to give the person’s name or nationality.

The videos released in August and September of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff showed a masked Islamic State militant brandishing a knife and speaking English with a British accent.

Sep 24, 2014

U.S. says still assessing fate of Khorasan figure after air strike

WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) – The United States is still
assessing whether or not Mohsin al-Fadhli, a senior figure of
the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group, was killed in a U.S. air
strike in Syria, government officials said on Wednesday.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
earlier on Wednesday: “We believe he is dead.” But other
officials said the extent of the damage caused to the Khorasan
group by Tuesday’s airstrike was uncertain and they could not
independently confirm the death of Fadhli or others.

Sep 3, 2014

Despite dangers, U.S. journalist Sotloff was determined to record Arab Spring’s human toll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even for a freelance journalist covering the tumult in the Arab world, Steven Sotloff’s travels seemed nonstop.

In October 2012, the American reporter was in Benghazi, Libya, covering the aftermath of the deadly raid on the U.S. diplomatic compound there. In December, he was in northern Syria, writing about the lives of destitute, displaced Syrians and the war, according to his published reports and his communications with colleagues and editors.

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.