Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two Deadly Blasts Hit Iranian Embassy in Lebanon

The man rushed the gates of the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. He was riding a motorcycle and as he approached the embassy guards could see explosives strapped to his chest. Before the guards could react the man reached the embassy’s outer wall and detonated the explosives. Minutes later a car parked nearby laden with roughly 110 pounds of explosives detonated, resulting in an explosion that devastated the surrounding area. 

Lebanese officials say 23 have died from the attack and at least 146, including a senior Iranian official, were injured.

The Sunni militant group, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attacks describing the attack as “a double martyrdom operation by two of the Sunni heroes of Lebanon”.

While the reason behind the attack is still unknown, the group has said that it would attack allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Shi’ite Iran openly supports the Syrian President and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, who are currently fighting together against Sunni rebels in the Syrian Civil War.

The Hezbollah presence in Syria has further inflamed sectarian tensions both in Syria and in Lebanon. Many Lebanese Sunnis support the Syrian rebels, while many from Lebanon’s Shi’ite population support Assad. Syrian rebel groups have threatened to take their war to Lebanon in response to Hezbollah’s involvement in the civil war.

Lebanon has been hit with three other terror attacks this year, and dozens of attacks in the neighboring country of Iraq can also be linked to sectarian tensions.

While the conflict between the Sunni and Shi’ite sects of Islam goes back centuries, the tension between the two groups still plays a big role in Middle Eastern politics, and has a strong influence on the stability of the region and the world.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Update: Shooting at LAX

At 9:20 on Friday morning a man dressed in black walked into Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Targeting TSA officers  the gunman shot his way past security checkpoints and into the terminal cursing the TSA as he went. According to witness the man approached people huddled in the terminal and, pointing his gun at them, asked if they were TSA and then moved on without shooting if they said "no". The man was finally stopped after a firefight with airport police inside the terminal. Officers said the man was hit multiple times before he went down and may have been wearing a bulletproof vest.

 The shooter, identified by police to be Paul Ciancia, age 23, is being held by police in critical condition and a note found next to the shooter indicated that he was targeting government employees such as the TSA and had no intention to harm what he described as "innocent bystanders".

While the entire episode lasted less then 10 minutes it caused chaos in the airport with two terminals being evacuated and flights being grounded. First responders treated seven victims at the scene one of whom died shortly thereafter. Some of the injured had not been shot but suffered “evasion injuries", or injuries sustained while trying to escape.

Thousands of were left stranded after the incident and thousands of flights around the world were disrupted.  LAPD and FBI investigators are collecting evidence in Terminal 3 while airport employees work to reopen Terminals 1 and 2.



Breaking News: Shooting at LAX

Multiple shots were fired this morning in the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

According to witnesses a man opened fire with a rifle wounding several people in Terminal 3. Law enforcement officers have swarmed the airport and Terminals 2 and 3 have been evacuated. Witnesses told reporters that two or three TSA officers were shot.

LAX officials have stated that some flights have been grounded, but that they have no idea when flights will be able to resume as normal.

LAPD commander Andy Smith said in a statement that there had been "multiple shootings" and that they had at least one suspect in custody.  LAPD officers are still trying to sort out how many people were injured.

Stay tuned for more details!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Syria: No More Chems, but Thousands trapped in Siege

According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Syria has destroyed all of its chemical weapons factories meeting the November 1st deadline set in the US and Russia brokered UN resolution.

The organization said that OPCW teams had visited 21 of the 23 declared chemical weapons sites in Syria to oversee their destruction. The other two sites were too dangerous to visit according to the OPCW, but the equipment from those sites had been moved and was inspected by OPCW experts.

Meanwhile reports of starvation and disease in the Moadamiyeh district of Damascus have sparked international outcry, causing government and rebel forces to broker a cease fire for last Tuesday.

The cease fire allowed around two thousand civilians to flee the besieged suburb, although activists say that thousands more civilians are still trapped in the suburb.
With the help of aid workers the civilians were able to leave to suburb, some on stretchers, and were taken to temporary shelters in the center of Damascus.

Syrian government forces have laid siege to several Damascus suburbs for months, cutting off food and other supplies in an attempt to flush out rebel forces.

While progress has been made in ensuring that chemical weapons will no longer be used in the two year old Syrian civil war, the fighting continues between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian rebels.



Snowden at Home

Ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden seems to have finally found his permanent safe harbor. In an announcement from his lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, a public announcement that Snowden will begin working for one of Russia’s largest websites. Neither the website, nor a description of the services that will be provided by Snowden were disclosed by Kucherena, citing security concerns. Snowden has been living in an undisclosed location for the last few months, and Kucherena stated that there is still a significant threat from US security agencies.

Speculation over Snowden’s location and activities has run rampant since his first release of government documents. A slew of images have been released in recent weeks from several tabloids purporting to show Snowden in different locations in Moscow. These notably include Life News, which published an image of Snowden standing on a river day-cruise boat next to a blonde female. The woman may be Sarah Harrison, the Wikileaks employee who has allegedly accompanied Snowden since his arrival in Moscow.

While the website which will be employing Snowden has not been released, it is known that Pavel Durov , the owner of website Vkonkatke, Russia’s largest home based social media site, made Snowden a very public job offer to work on VK’s security with a post on his own page. Vkontakte is a competitor to Facebook, and is controversial for allowing members access to pirated material. A spokesperson for the company, however, has stated that Mr. Snowden is not working for VK, also echoed by statements from two other large Russian websites, Yandex and

Kucherena has also stated that Snowden is making progress in entering Russian society. He is beginning to learn Russian and visit various Russian historical and cultural styles, and has been visited by family in Moscow.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Accident or an Act of Protest?

Smoke rises from Tiananmen Square
It was noon in Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, China’s capital city. As usual the square was filled with bustling tourist from across China and the world. On one side of the square stood the tall ornate doors to the Forbidden City, the historic palace of China’s emperors. Suddenly an SUV swerved off one of the streets surrounding the square and charged towards the gate to the Forbidden City. The vehicle raced across the crowded sidewalk for more than 400 yards, killing two tourists and injuring 38, before finally crashing and bursting into flames at the entrance to the Forbidden City, instantly killing its three occupants. As black smoke billowed from the SUV, paramilitary police with armored cars arrived, urging tourists to leave before sealing off the area.

While government quickly suppressed early coverage of the incident, deleting witness photographs and locking down the area, witnesses say that it was not an accident.
Although the government declined to comment on possibility of a planned attack, Chinese police began looking for suspects from China’s Xinjiang region about their connection to a “major incident” later that same day.

Xinjiang is a tumultuous region of western China that is home to the ethnic Uighurs. The Uighurs are a Turkic speaking Muslim people, who have become increasingly discontent with Chinese rule in recent years.

Chinese police issued a notice to Beijing hotels that named two men from Xinjiang as suspects as well as listed 4 license plate numbers from the region. The notice asked the hotels to notify police if they had any information about the men or the vehicles in order to “prevent the suspected persons and vehicles from committing further crimes.”



Monday, October 28, 2013


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