News Wrap: U.S. Files Charges Against Suspected Benghazi Attack
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KWAME HOLMAN: A military judge in Texas today temporarily halted the mass shooting court-martial of Army Major Nidal Hasan after just one day. Hasan is defending himself, but his standby attorney said he appears intent on getting sentenced to death. The lawyer asked that his own role be minimized.
Hasan has admitted killing 13 people and wounding nearly three dozen in 2009. He says he acted because America is at war with Islam. The trial is expected to reconvene tomorrow.
The deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has produced its first criminal charges. It was widely reported overnight that U.S. prosecutors have begun the process of bringing suspects to trial.
Word of the charges comes almost a year after the attack in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. It’s unclear how many people are included in the sealed complaint or what the charges are, but the reports named Ahmed Abu Khattala, the former commander of a Benghazi-based militia group.
Khattala has denied involvement in the past, and did so again today. He insisted he’s left the militia group and that he has not been questioned in the case. In Washington, the U.S. Justice Department refused to comment, except to say the investigation is ongoing.
But Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California said anyone charged must be placed in U.S. custody without delay. Issa and other Republicans have accused the administration of neglecting security in Benghazi and misleading the public about what really happened.
Authorities in Yemen said today they have foiled an al-Qaida plot to take over strategic port cities in the south. They claimed it’s the same plot that led the U.S. to close embassies in 19 cities across the Muslim world. Meanwhile, another suspected U.S. drone strike today killed seven al-Qaida militants in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province.
In Egypt, the military-backed leaders declared foreign efforts to mediate the country’s political crisis have failed. They blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mohammed Morsi, the ousted president who remains in custody. Egypt’s interim prime minister went on state TV to warn Islamist protesters that the decision to dismantle their camps in Cairo is irreversible.
INTERIM PRIME MINSTER HAZEM EL-BEBLAWI, Egypt (through interpreter): We ask them once more to leave quickly and return to their homes and work without resistance. Those who do not have blood on their hands, the state promises to provide them with free transportation. The cabinet warns against the continuing dangerous escalation and incitement by those who are deceiving them from amongst the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood that threatens national security .
KWAME HOLMAN: The Muslim Brotherhood rejected the warnings, and said protesters are not concerned about talk of clearing their sit-ins by force.
A small fire got out of control today at Kenya’s main airport in Nairobi, the busiest in East Africa. The extensive damage grounded international flights and roiled schedules across the continent. The entire airport was closed for a time, as firefighters battled the blaze. Inbound flights were rerouted to the coastal city of Mombasa. When the airport reopened later, it was only for domestic and cargo flights.
Kenyan officials announced plans to convert a domestic flight area into an international terminal.
CABINET SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT MICHAEL KAMAU, Kenya: From tomorrow, we will be preparing this unit, unit three, for — as an international terminal for departure and arrival. We have started pitching tents on the air side for handling departing passengers.
KWAME HOLMAN: The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but officials said there was no initial indication of terrorism.
Tensions between the two Koreas eased somewhat today. Communist North Korea announced it is reopening an industrial park that is run jointly with South Korea. The park closed in mid-April amid threats by the North to retaliate against Washington and Seoul for international sanctions. Formal talks on future operations at the industrial site are scheduled to begin August 14.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained lost 48 points to close at 15,470. The NASDAQ fell 11 points to close at 3,654.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.