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Tunisia beach massacre: Security forces deliberately stalled response, inquest hears

Tunisian security forces deliberately and unjustifiably stalled in responding to a massacre of holidaymakers in which 38 tourists were killed, an inquest heard on Monday. Local officers responding to reports of the attack at the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel and the adjoining beach in Sousse in June 2015 wasted a considerable amount of time in getting to the hotel, the hearing into the deaths of 30 Britons was told.

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Tunisia Beach Massacre: Security Forces Deliberately Stalled Response, Inquest Hears

Samantha Leek QC, counsel to the inquest, said a report by a Tunisian judge had identified failings by local units after the killer, Seifeddine Rezgui, 22, opened fire with an automatic rifle. The report by Judge Bechir Akremi, submitted to the coroner, includes evidence from an unnamed interior minister, who said some local security officers nearby had consciously slowed down their arrival. The unnamed interior minister said the units that should have intervened in the events deliberately and unjustifiably slowed down to delay their arrival at the hotel, Leek said, according to the Times. They had the ability to put an end to the attack before police arrived, but wasted a considerable amount of time getting to the hotel.

The court did not hear why police might have delayed their response. Last year, six police officers, including the chief of the tourist protection unit and the officer who shot and killed Rezgui, were charged in relation to the slow response time, which is said to have been nearly 40 minutes because officers didn t have bulletproof vests. Leek read out the names of the 38 victims, who were aged between 19 and 80 and included three generations of one family.

On that day a gunman entered the hotel from the beach carrying an automatic weapon with a number of explosives.

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Tunisia Beach Massacre: Security Forces Deliberately Stalled Response, Inquest Hears

He systematically took the lives of 38 people who had traveled to Tunisia for enjoyment, luxury and relaxation; 38 people who had done nothing to provoke this attack, individually or collectively; 38 people who needlessly lost their lives. During a detailed account of the murders using a 3D computer reconstruction of the hotel, grounds and surrounding area, Detective Superintendent Mark Gower guided the judge and the families of victims through the route taken by Rezgui, and the locations of each of the bodies. Footage from CCTV cameras showed the killer was dropped off in a white Peugeot van on a side road a short distance from the beach . He then went to the rear of the vehicle before re-emerging with a colored parasol in which he had hidden the gun. He was shown walking briskly down the sands and past two other hotels towards the spot where he dropped the parasol and opened fire. Footage of the sea front showed terrified sunbathers and staff fleeing the beach as Rezgui fired rounds, killing 20 people, before he entered the grounds of the Marhaba, where he killed 10 people, and then going inside the hotel building, where eight were murdered.

Gower said it took Rezgui 20 minutes to arrive back on the beach after first opening fire. The attack remains the worst terrorist incident involving British citizens since the July 7 London bombings in 2005. The inquest continues.

Trump’s Homeland Security Pick Falsely Claimed “Narcoterrorism” Has Killed 500000 Americans

For many parts of the world, it is hard to predict which Donald Trump will enter the White House on January 20 . Will it be the Donald Trump who promised to decimate ISIS in 100 days, or the Donald Trump who promised to avoid an Iraq-like quagmire ? Will it be the Donald Trump who campaigned on building up a decrepit U.S .

military, or the Donald Trump who said he would slash military spending1 to balance the budget ? Will it be a Donald Trump who is eager to strong-arm China at the negotiating table, or the Donald Trump who promised to discard the Trans-Pacific trade deal designed to increase American leverage over the region? While Trump continues to regularly contradict his own supposed views on U.S . foreign policy, his approach to the U.S . southern border is clear . He talked a lot about building a wall while running for president . Since winning, he s repeatedly emphasized the seriousness of his promise.

You think we are playing games, Trump said earlier this month, at a rally in Wisconsin2 .

We re going to build the wall, okay ? Believe me . We re going to build the wall . We have to . We have got to stop the drugs from coming in and the wall is going to be a big, big factor. In the Trumpist view, the lack of a continuous border wall between the U.S . and Mexico facilitates the flow of drugs, undermines U.S .

wages, and provides a potential gateway for terrorists trying to find their way into the United States . The wall is a concrete way to address fears among Trump s base surrounding immigration, an issue that gives concerns over jobs, wages, and terrorist attacks a common focal point along the southern border . This worldview is so compelling as a political vision that it has sometimes caused Trump s national security team to back it up with fabrications . Michael Flynn, Trump s choice for national security adviser, has wrongly claimed3 that there are Arabic letters written on the backs of signs along the Mexico border, intended to guide terrorists into the United States. John Kelly, the retired Marine general who Trump has chosen to lead the Department of Homeland Security, has his own pattern of exaggerating the border threat . Between 2012 and his retirement in early 2016, Kelly served as head of U.S . Southern Command .

In this role, he coordinated all U.S . forces in the Western Hemisphere south of Mexico, including the Caribbean and Guant namo, which is home to the hemisphere s largest overseas U.S . military base . As Obama trimmed the military s budget with the sequester, and prioritized Asia and the Middle East over the relatively peaceful Western Hemisphere, Kelly complained that the budget cuts4 were undermining regional security. In a 2014 interview5, he said that the flow of drugs and instability in Latin America posed an existential threat to the United States . During a March 2015 hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sen . Mike Lee .

R-Utah, asked him to explain why the southern border posed such a large threat . Kelly responded with these words:

there s 40,000 Americans that die every year from the drugs that move up through my part of the world, and into Bill s Adm . William Gortney, who was then head of Northern Command, and into our homeland 40,000 people a year. You know, since 9/11, there s half a million people have died from narco terrorism, as we call it in down where I live narco terrorism . Five hundred thousand Americans have died . Very few have died from, you know, traditional terrorism, if you will, since 9/11 . It costs our country $200 billion a year to deal with the people that are into drugs but are not, you know, dying .

So I see that as a huge, huge, huge threat. Kelly s first claim drugs kill roughly 40,0006 Americans each year is accurate . It is also true that drugs have killed more than half a million Americans in the 15 years since 9/11. But Kelly s second claim to the Senate committee, that 500,000 Americans have died from narcoterrorism since 9/11, is a significant exaggeration . The real number of Americans who have died of post-9/11 terrorism in all its forms is well under 1,000, according to a 2014 study7 that was supported by the Department of Homeland Security .

And at least one-third of the 40,000 killed by drugs annually do not die, as Kelly claimed, from drugs coming into the U.S . across the southern border, but from overdoses of legally prescribed opioids . Almost all of the profits from those addicts flow not to drug cartels but to pharmaceutical companies . Sales of legal opioids have quadrupled8 since 1999, particularly in those white, rural areas of the country9 where Trump s support is strongest. Kelly s claim of 500,000 deaths doesn t appear to be reflected in any known official numbers . The RAND Corporation, for example, estimated that less than 100 people in total10 died due to terrorism in the U.S . between 9/11 and 2009.

While it is true that drug-related violence poses an existential threat to Mexico and Central America, Kelly was wrong to suggest that is the case in the United States . The number of Americans killed each year in drug-related homicides is around 1,00011, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics . That is one thousand too many, but it does not add up to the half million post-9/11 U.S . victims of narcoterrorism that Kelly claimed had lost their lives in his testimony before the Senate committee.

Prescription drugs make billions of dollars for Purdue and other pharmaceutical companies, said Kathleen Frydl, historian and author of The Drug Wars in America, by email . It may be preferable for John Kelly to pretend that narcotrafficking, rather than homegrown greed, lies at the heart of the opioid crisis.

Kelly s claim of 500,000 U.S . narcoterrorism deaths is more than a one-time slip of the tongue . He said the same thing later last year12 in a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

our country is right at 40,000 dead a year, year after year, from another kind of terrorism, narcoterrorism the cocaine and the drugs and the network it travels on, it moves anything . Guns, women, other people, human beings . Uh, potentially terrorists . Potentially, anything . All you have to do is pay the fare . But the network is very, very well developed.

While the rhetorical link that Kelly makes between terrorism and immigration is central to Trump s pitch for sealing the U.S . border, new walls are just one of many ways that Kelly will likely carry out his agenda at the Department of Homeland Security . DHS is a very young, very large, and very powerful federal agency created 11 days after the September 11, 2001, attacks . It is roughly one-tenth the size of the Pentagon in terms of budget ($52 billion vs. $524 billion) and personnel (240,000 vs .

2.3 million), and oversees almost all of the federal government s operations relating to immigration . If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly will be responsible for a wide portfolio of security measures inside of U.S . borders, including responding to natural disasters, stockpiling vaccines, inspecting cargo, scanning luggage and passengers at airports, passing federal intelligence on to state and local police, and managing Secret Service protection for the president and his family.

Trump said he will triple the number of federal officers working to deport immigrants, and immediately deport13 2 million to 3 million people now living on U.S . soil . He has called for the extreme vetting of Muslims trying to enter the U.S., and perhaps banning entirely those seeking entry from certain countries, such as Syria. Kelly will be the first military officer to lead the agency, in a country with longstanding legal prohibitions14 against military involvement in domestic law enforcement . Kelly, like Flynn, another retired military officer, has frequently referred to the possibility that Middle Eastern terrorist networks could link up with human smugglers to move operatives or weapons of mass destruction across U.S . borders, a persistent fear in government circles . It has never been conclusively disproven as a possibility, nor has it ever demonstrably taken place .

Adam Isacson, who covers security for the Washington Office on Latin America, said that Kelly perceives the region in terms of complex networks of criminals looking to do ill within the United States . The potential for cross-border terrorism threat should not be completely discounted, he added . You only have to be right once, he said. The southern border narcoterrorism scenario was also graphically depicted in the 2012 film15 Act of Valor, produced with the help16 of the Navy and active-duty Navy SEALS . Real-life investigations into the drug-terror connection tend to turn up less spectacular results, as recent investigations by Pro Publica17 and The Intercept18 have shown.

Russell Baer, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said there was no official tally kept of deaths caused by narcoterrorism . There s no specific way to answer that question, he said, by email . Narcoterrorism has more to do with using drug proceeds, or drug money laundering services, to support a terroristic cause throughout the world . We are all victims of narcoterrorism. Trump s transition team did not respond to a request asking them to clarify or explain Kelly s remarks.

Top photo: Marine Corps Gen . John Kelly, former head of U.S . Southern Command, testifies with other military officers at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to review the 2014 Defense Authorization Request.

References

  1. ^ slash military spending (www.politico.com)
  2. ^ rally in Wisconsin (wbay.com)
  3. ^ wrongly claimed (www.cnn.com)
  4. ^ complained that the budget cuts (securityassistance.org)
  5. ^ a 2014 interview (www.defenseone.com)
  6. ^ roughly 40,000 (www.whitehouse.gov)
  7. ^ according to a 2014 study (www.start.umd.edu)
  8. ^ have quadrupled (www.cdc.gov)
  9. ^ white, rural areas of the country (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ people in total (www.rand.org)
  11. ^ around 1,000 (www.bjs.gov)
  12. ^ same thing later last year (www.youtube.com)
  13. ^ immediately deport (www.washingtonpost.com)
  14. ^ longstanding legal prohibitions (www.rand.org)
  15. ^ the 2012 film (en.wikipedia.org)
  16. ^ produced with the help (www.nytimes.com)
  17. ^ Pro Publica (www.propublica.org)
  18. ^ The Intercept (theintercept.com)

Trump bundled off stage over ‘gun’ scare

Donald Trump has been rushed off stage by his security team at a rally in Reno, Nevada, following a “gun” scare. The US secret service, which provides security for presidential candidates, later said someone in the crowd had shouted “gun” but no weapon was found. Mr Trump returned to continue his speech a short time later, and the suspect wrestled to the ground during the incident and frogmarched from the venue was released. Austyn Crites, who carried out the protest, said: “I am actually a Republican, I just don’t support Donald Trump.” He added: “I am doing what I believe is my democratic duty to show that even though we are from the same party, even though a lot of the things that he says may resonate with a lot of people…I just believe he’s very dangerous for the country.

“I just came with a sign, I literally had one sign that said ‘Republicans against Trump’.”

Mr Trump reappeared just minutes after being bundled from the hall mid-speech by secret service agents, shielding his body with their own. :: Trump: Made In America – a Sky News special programme on the Republican Party candidate – at 4pm on Sunday Shortly before the incident, the 70-year-old Republican tycoon could be seen sheltering his eyes from the lights in order to peer into the crowd. As he was led away there were signs of a scuffle in the audience before police intervened. Mr Crites was held face down on the ground while officers searched him and there was booing as he was led from the venue. Returning to cheers, Mr Trump said: “No one said it was going to be easy for us, but we will never be stopped, never ever be stopped.”

The candidate also thanked the secret service agents. He said: “These guys are fantastic . They don’t get enough credit . They don’t get enough credit .

They are amazing people.” The secret service said in a statement later: “Mr Trump was removed from the stage by his secret service protective detail after a commotion occurred in the crowd. “Immediately in front of the stage, an unidentified individual shouted ‘gun’ . Secret service agents and Reno police officers immediately apprehended the subject. “Upon a thorough search of the subject and the surrounding area, no weapon was found.”

The false scare came Mr Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton stepped up their campaigns in the countdown to Tuesday’s vote after one of the most bitterly fought and tumultuous presidential races of all time. Mr Trump used his speech in Reno to argue Mrs Clinton should not be allowed to run for president while the FBI continued its investigation into her use of a private email server for work correspondence while she was US secretary of state. He told supporters: “We need a government that can work, and work well from day one for the American people. “That would be impossible with Hillary Clinton, the prime suspect in a massive far-reaching criminal investigation.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton continued her bid to make history by becoming America’s first woman president. She has secured the backing of A-list celebrities to her campaign including Katy Perry, Beyonce and Jay Z.

Perry, wearing a purple cape with the words “I’m with Madam President”, told a rally: “In three days, let’s make history.”

Read more:
:: Trump vs Clinton on key issues for America
:: What time the polls close and when to expect a result
:: The states that will decide the outcome
:: The Electoral College and how you win a Presidential election34

:: Analysis: How Donald Trump’s bid is similar to Brexit campaign125

References

  1. ^ :: Trump vs Clinton on key issues for America (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ :: What time the polls close and when to expect a result (news.sky.com)
  3. ^ :: The states that will decide the outcome (news.sky.com)
  4. ^ :: The Electoral College and how you win a Presidential election (news.sky.com)
  5. ^ :: Analysis: How Donald Trump’s bid is similar to Brexit campaign (news.sky.com)