American jailed for betraying military sources in Iraq
- Mariam Thompson, 62, had admitted transmitting the classified information to a Lebanese national connected to Hezbollah
WASHINGTON: A Pentagon translator was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison for passing the names of US informants in Iraq to a person linked to Lebanon’s powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah.
Mariam Thompson, 62, had admitted transmitting the classified information to a Lebanese national in hopes that it would be passed on to the group designated a terrorist organization by Washington.
“Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardized and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues,” John Demers, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said in a statement.
According to court documents, Thompson worked as an interpreter on a foreign military base when, in 2017, she began a relationship on a video app with a man who said he was connected to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator,” the Justice Department said.
She was assigned to American special forces in Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, in December 2019, when the unit initiated strikes against a pro-Iranian militia, which ended January 3, 2020 with the death of powerful Iranian General Qassim Suleimani.
Shortly after, Thompson’s contact asked for information about agents suspected of having aided the United States.
She gave him data on several American informants, including the real names of at least eight people, accessed through personnel files, and information on US military tactics.
She was arrested by federal authorities the next month, in late February 2020.
Canada: Decision to down Ukraine flight PS752 was made by senior Iranian official
- The Canadian forensic report stated that Iran ignored some risks, which led to the accident
- The report also added that the Islamic Republic failed to provide sufficient explanations
DUBAI: Canada’s final report on the downing of the Ukrainian plane said the decision was made by a senior Iranian official, Al-Arabiya TV reported.
The Canadian forensic report stated that Iran ignored some risks, which led to the fatal accident on Jan. 8, 2020.
The report also added that the Islamic Republic failed to provide sufficient explanations for the downing of the plane, which killed all 176 people on board.
Earlier in June, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said they refused Iran’s proposal to pay $150,000 as compensation for each victim of the PS752 plane victims.
Oleg Nikolenko said compensation to families was an important step to justice, but first the full truth behind the circumstances of the plane crash were needed.
“Only then can we talk about the compensation. The specific amount should be set with the agreement of all the governments of the states whose citizens died in the plane crash, and [should] not [be] a unilateral decision,” one of the country’s biggest TV news channels TSN quoted him.
Yemeni minister says government has control of Marib
- Muammar Al-Eryani said Houthis are still recruiting children
- Loyalist officials told AFP that pro-government forces had repelled Houthi attacks north of the city
DUBAI: Yemen’s Information Minister said Marib was “invincible” and warned that Houthis who tried to enter would be arrested, state news agency Saba New reported on Wednesday.
Muammar Al-Eryani said Houthis are still recruiting children.
“The Houthi militia are again deploying thousands of their militants, including tribesmen and children recruited from the summer radicalization centers for suicide missions at all fronts of Marib,” the report quoted him as saying.
Fighting between Yemeni loyalists and Houthi rebels seeking to take the strategic northern city of Marib has left 90 fighters killed in two days, pro-government military sources said on Tuesday.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia on Monday night mounted a fresh assault on the internationally recognized government forces in Al-Mashjah and Al-Kasara areas, west of Marib, triggering heavy clashes that continued until Tuesday afternoon and claimed the lives of dozens of combatants.
The Ministry of Defense said dozens of Houthis were killed in the fighting and that they lost a significant amount of military equipment.
Loyalist officials told AFP that pro-government forces had repelled Houthi attacks north of the city in clashes that left 63 rebels and 27 loyalist fighters dead since Monday.
Libya sees progress on removal of foreign mercenaries at Berlin talks
- Premier urges parliament to approve election law to allow December election to go ahead
BERLIN: Libya’s foreign minister said on Wednesday international powers had made progress at talks in Berlin on the removal of foreign fighters from the country, although a final communique from the UN-backed conference specified no concrete new measures.
Libya has had little stability since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising against then-head of state Muammar Qaddafi, but a UN-led peace process brought a ceasefire last summer after fighting between rival factions paused.
Wednesday’s meeting in Berlin aimed to make progress on removing mercenaries and other foreign forces from Libya, months after the ceasefire called for their withdrawal, as well as on steps toward securing a December election.
“Hopefully within coming days mercenaries (on) both sides will be withdrawn,” Libya’s Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush told a news conference following the talks.
A senior official at the US State Department said Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Libya, had reached an initial understanding to work toward a target of pulling out 300 Syrian mercenaries from each side of the conflict.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said he believed there was an understanding between Russia and Turkey on a step-by-step withdrawal of their fighters.
“This will not mean that everybody will take their mercenaries back overnight,” he said. The talks were also attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
A second State Department official said it was unrealistic to think a full withdrawal of foreign fighters would come overnight and that it would be a phased approach.
“Getting at what we think is one of the key de-stabilizing elements, the presence of these foreign fighters, Syrians, Chadians, Sudanese, that is an important first step and it’s not something we had before,” the official said.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeiba called on Libya’s parliament to approve an election law to allow the December election to go ahead and to pass his government’s budget.
“Unfortunately, we have not yet seen the necessary seriousness from the legislative bodies,” he said.
Violence seeps into Lebanese life due to economic crisis
- Fistfights turn into shootings as people clash over who gets to fill their tank first at gasoline stations
BEIRUT: Violence has seeped into daily Lebanese life due to the country’s severe economic crisis and a breakdown in official security, with fights and even shootings at gas stations.
Lebanon is experiencing an economic crisis that is likely to rank as one of the world’s three worst in more than 150 years, according to the World Bank.
There are shortages of essential items such as fuel and medicine, while bread has become more expensive after the Syndicate of Bakery Owners raised prices now that government subsidies on sugar and yeast have ended.
People are queuing for hours at gas stations, and fistfights turn into shootings as people clash over who gets to fill their tank first.
People are taking their own lives or destroying their sources of income in desperation.
A 25-year-old man named Mathew hanged himself in his apartment in the Keserwan area, while a man in Baalbek tried to commit suicide in his shop because of the debts he had accumulated. Another person set fire to his bean cart in a Beirut street after receiving an order to remove it. The cart was his sole livelihood.
Living conditions have deteriorated considerably amid a political deadlock over the formation of a new government. There is a dispute between Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun about who should be in the new administration and what roles they should have, among other issues.
Hariri was named to form a new government last October but has yet to succeed. The government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned days after a massive blast in Beirut on Aug. 4 that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.
One activist turned his aim at the country’s authorities, tweeting: “You have turned Lebanon into a jungle and put people at the mercy of thugs at gas stations. You have humiliated people in every detail of their lives. We place the scenes of shootings at gas stations in God’s hands because we have no one in Lebanon to complain to. They are all responsible without exception.”
A resident from Beirut’s southern suburbs said that official security was no longer enough to deal with the chaos and violence that was finding its way into everyday life. “The official security forces, which have shared the task of providing security in the southern suburbs in recent years with Hezbollah and the Amal movement, have asked those in charge of these neighborhoods to participate in protecting the security of gas stations because the official security services are unable to cover all neighborhoods,” the resident told Arab News on condition of anonymity.
Self-security was not limited to Beirut’s southern suburbs, the resident added, but extended to Beirut and other neighborhoods, including Ain El-Remmaneh and Furn El Chebbak.
Fadi Abu Shakra, a representative of the union for fuel distributors and gas stations in Lebanon, spoke about the dangers of the new development.
“Some individuals who imposed themselves as in charge of security at gas stations are using extortion,” he told Arab News. “The riots and attacks in front of the stations are no longer bearable. The owners of over 140 gas stations refused to receive gasoline from the companies because they were exposed to extortion and beatings, and could not protect themselves.”
He called on the security services to protect the gas stations which, he said, were “only trying to do their jobs.”
But Brig. Gen. Anwar Yahya, a former judicial police chief, said that the Internal Security Forces were not responsible for “ensuring public order” in front of gas stations. “This falls within the responsibilities of municipalities, and there is a law that stipulates this,” he told Arab News. “But the municipalities are also suffering under low budgets. Some parties are involved in certain municipalities and they can assist them in such matters. However, when such individuals have a greater influence than the official security forces, the state’s stature diminishes.”
The economic crisis had affected the Lebanese armed forces, he added, and the international community’s cooperation to support them was “an expression of its fear” about the military “crumbling” under the pressure of events in Lebanon.
Security services have been submitting daily reports on their pursuit of people smuggling subsidized materials to Syria and on those being arrested for harming social and food security.
Yahya, who spent 39 years in the security field, said people expected the state agencies to provide protection and that the army remained the “ultimate salvation.”
“The most important thing is to speed up the formation of a government because people are hungry,” he added.
He stressed that, until the time came when there was a new government, an individual’s primary role was maintaining self-protection. “Among the preventive measures that citizens can take are locking doors and windows, applying the principles of neighborhood security, and informing the police of every emergency.”