French authorities paint complex picture of attacker
PARIS (AP) — Authorities investigating the truck driver who killed 84 people in a Bastille Day attack painted a complex picture Monday of a man who did not seem devout but had recently become interested in jihadi violence and researched past attacks in France and the United States, including one on a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, who oversees terrorism investigations, said by all accounts Mohamed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel drank, ate pork and had an “unbridled sex life.” But his computer and phone showed online searches relating to IS and other jihadi groups.
“A search of his computer illustrates a clear … and recent interest in radical jihadism,” Molins said, adding that Bouhlel had recently grown a beard and told people it was for religious reasons. While officials have said the attack was obviously premeditated, they have not found any evidence that Bouhlel had coordinated with an extremist network.
Internet searches on Bouhlel’s computer included Islamic propaganda chants, the terms “horrible deadly accidents,” and the recent attacks against the gay nightclub in Orlando, police officers in Dallas, and the killing of two police officials in Magnanville, outside of Paris.
One witness told authorities that Bouhlel seemed accustomed to looking at decapitation videos, Molins said.
Tensions with West rise as Turkey continues purge
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The purging of thousands of alleged plotters of a failed coup raised tensions Monday between Turkey and the West, with U.S. and European officials urging restraint, while Ankara insisted that Washington extradite an exile accused of orchestrating the plot.
Authorities have fired nearly 9,000 police officers, bureaucrats and others, while detaining thousands more alleged to have been involved in Friday night’s attempted coup, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Former air force commander Akin Ozturk, alleged to be the ringleader of the uprising, was put under arrest following questioning by a magistrate along with 25 other suspects, the news agency said. Ozturk, who has denied involvement and insisted he had tried to suppress the rebellion, appeared in video from Turkish TV looking bruised with a bandage over his ear.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to rule out bringing back the death penalty, telling the U.S. cable TV station CNN in an interview via a government translator, “There is a clear crime of treason.” He added that it would be up to parliament to decide.
“if they accept to discuss it then I as president will approve any decision that comes out of the parliament,” he said. He said Turks have been calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty because of the increased terror attacks and demand for swift justice.
Slain Baton Rouge officers all hailed from same community
DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (AP) — Fresh out of the police academy, Matthew Gerald was so proud to bring his cruiser home that he stood in the driveway, wiping it down under the hot Louisiana sun. His neighbor Ashley Poe watched as he flicked the blue lights on and off, on and off.
Poe and her husband shared a laugh. The 41-year-old former soldier and Marine looked like an excited kid.
“It’s like living out the dream,” she said.
Gerald got to live it only for a few months. He was one of three officers gunned down in an ambush Sunday in Baton Rouge, traumatizing a nation already on edge.
In the span of 10 turbulent days, 10 law enforcement officers have been killed by attackers — at a protest march in Dallas, a courthouse in Michigan and now a convenience store in Baton Rouge. Together, the shootings represent the deadliest attack on law enforcement in decades.
Killer of Baton Rouge law officers a man of mixed messages
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gavin Long was a man of mixed messages. He peddled self-published books with abstract themes about self-empowerment and spiritual enlightenment, but also posted rambling internet videos calling for violent action in response to what he considered oppression.
In the last message sent from his Twitter account early Sunday, he wrote: “Just bc you wake up every morning doesn’t mean that you’re living. And just bc you shed your physical body doesn’t mean that you’re dead.”
Nine hours later, he ambushed law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, fatally shooting two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy and injuring three others before being shot dead himself. It was his 29th birthday.
The black military veteran, whose last known address was in Kansas City, Missouri, had spent five years in the Marine Corps, serving one tour in Iraq before being honorably discharged and taking a series of college classes. Then, according to his website, he had a spiritual awakening, sold all his possessions and moved to Africa for a time.
By May 2015, back in the U.S., Long sought to legally change his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra in a non-binding document filed in Jackson County, Missouri, though he never followed through with an official request, county spokeswoman Brenda Hill said.
Bloodshed fills headlines, confronting public with anxiety
Orlando. Istanbul. Dallas. Nice. And now, again, Baton Rouge. Ever since a gunman opened fire on Florida nightclub goers five weeks ago, killing 49, we’ve been buffeted by images of bloodshed.
The scenes of the violence are often far away and disconnected from one another. But all too often, the victims — whether they’re patrolling the streets or out for an evening of fireworks — remind us of ourselves, our families, our neighbors. To many people, the barrage has started to feel inescapable. As non-stop news coverage and social media confront people with video of conflict and death, the images have begun to exact a collective toll of exhaustion and anxiety.
“The world is crazy right now. It is complete chaos,” Lauren Rose, sister-in-law of Montrell Jackson, one of the three police officers slain in Louisiana, said Monday. “And it all needs to stop, everything. We all need peace.”
Such feelings reach far beyond Baton Rouge, which has been rocked since the July 5 killing of Alton Sterling, the first of two recent, highly publicized shootings of black men by police officers. It doesn’t matter if there is no connection between those shootings and last week’s fatal truck rampage in France. Together, they contribute to a sense of turmoil that seems beyond easy resolution.
“It’s scary but yet I don’t know how, like in Nice and stuff, how that can be prevented,” Terri Smith, a legal secretary from Richfield, Minnesota, said Monday. “You get tired of it after a while, I mean, and you’re kind of helpless.”
Tumult over rules, condemnation of Clinton at GOP convention
CLEVELAND (AP) — Republicans criticism cast Donald Trump as the right man for turbulent times as they opened their presidential convention Monday against a backdrop of unsettling summer violence and deep discontent within their own party.
For Trump, the convention was also an opportunity to assure party leaders and voters alike that there’s a kinder gentler side to what many see as merely a brash businessman. Trump’s family is playing a starring role, beginning Monday night with an evening speech by his wife, Melania Trump, who has kept a low profile throughout the campaign.
In an unusual step for a candidate, Trump announced he would come to Cleveland and go onstage on opening night to introduce her.
Ahead of Trump’s arrival, tumult broke out on the convention floor after party officials adopted rules by a shouted voice vote, a move aimed at blunting anti-Trump forces seeking to derail his nomination. Delegates erupted in competing chants in a televised dispute Republican leaders had hoped to avoid.
“I have no idea what’s going on right now. This is surreal,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who had helped lead the efforts to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules.
AP FACT CHECK: No proof of shooting motive as Trump claims
A key argument Donald Trump makes in his presidential run is that he will keep America safe, both by fighting terrorism overseas and restoring law and order back home in the wake of a series of shootings against police. On Monday, Trump tied the two issues together, suggesting that the shooter in the latest police killing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday was motivated by “radical Islam.”
But Trump’s comment Monday during an interview on “Fox & Friends,” got out far ahead of what law-enforcement and security authorities have said about what may have motivated the man who shot and killed two police officers and one sheriff’s deputy. Early indications are that he had no known ties to any radical Islamic group.
A look at what Trump said in the interview and what’s known about the shooting so far:
TRUMP: “I mean, you look at so many different fronts, it’s, you know, radical Islam, and by the way, he seems to be a member of that group also, seems to be something going on there, but it’s very sad what’s happening.”
THE FACTS: The motive of shooter black Marine veteran Gavin Long is not yet known, although comments and videos he’s posted online shed some light on his thinking.
Afghan teen killed after injuring passengers on German train
BERLIN (AP) — A teenage Afghan migrant armed with an ax and a knife attacked passengers aboard a regional train in southern Germany on Monday night, injuring four people before he was shot and killed by police as he fled, authorities said.
Wuerzburg police said on their Facebook page that three of the victims suffered serious injuries and one was slightly injured. Another 14 people were being treated for shock.
Bavaria’s top security official, state Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, told Germany’s ARD television that the attacker had been identified as a 17-year-old Afghan.
Germany last year registered more than 1 million migrants entering the country, including more than 150,000 Afghans, but it was not immediately clear whether the suspect was among them or someone who had been in the country for a longer time.
Herrmann said initial information was that the suspect came to Germany as an unaccompanied minor and had lived in the Wuerzburg area for some time, initially at a refugee facility in the town of Ochsenfurt and more recently with a foster family.
AP Exclusive: Document shows less limits on Iran nuke work
VIENNA (AP) — Key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program imposed under an internationally negotiated deal will start to ease years before the 15-year accord expires, advancing Tehran’s ability to build a bomb even before the end of the pact, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The confidential document is the only text linked to last year’s deal between Iran and six foreign powers that hasn’t been made public, although U.S. officials say members of Congress who expressed interest were briefed on its substance. It was given to the AP by a diplomat whose work has focused on Iran’s nuclear program for more than a decade, and its authenticity was confirmed by another diplomat who possesses the same document.
Both demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to share or discuss the document.
The diplomat who shared the text with the AP described it as an add-on agreement to the nuclear deal in the form of a document submitted by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency outlining its plans to expand its uranium enrichment program after the first 10 years of the nuclear deal.
But while formally separate from the bigger nuclear accord, he said that it was in effect an integral part of that pact and had been approved by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the six powers that negotiated the deal with Tehran.
Russia’s participation in Rio uncertain after doping report
A scathing report outlining a state-sanctioned doping system in Russia prompted immediate calls for the nation’s entire team to be sidelined from the Summer Games, raising the possibility that the Olympics could go on without a sports superpower for the first time since the 1980s.
The investigation released Monday confirmed a scheme run out of the anti-doping lab in Moscow that ensnared 28 summer and winter sports, from track to snowboarding to table tennis. It lasted at least four years and involved at least 312 positive tests that went unreported at the behest of higher-ups in the country’s sports ministry.
“A mind-blowing level of corruption within both Russian sport and government,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The World Anti-Doping Agency swiftly called for the International Olympic Committee to consider a full ban of the Russian team from the Summer Olympics, which start Aug. 5 in Rio de Janiero. IOC president Thomas Bach said the committee wouldn’t hesitate to apply the toughest sanctions available.
The IOC executive board will meet Tuesday to begin sorting through options.