Gadhafi’s son freed after 7-plus years in detention, officials say

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CAIRO — Libyan authorities on Sunday released one of Muammar Gadhafi’s sons after more than seven years of detention in the capital of Tripoli following his extradition from neighboring Niger, the country’s interim leader said.

Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said in a tweet early Monday that al-Saadi Gadhafi had been released in compliance with a previous court order.

Mohamed Hamouda, a spokesman for the transitional government, said the son walked free from Tripoli’s al-Hadaba prison, where many Gadhafi regime officials are being held pending trial, mostly in connection to the crackdown on the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime ruler led to his killing. Hamouda did not elaborate on the circumstances of the son’s release.

Local media reported al-Saadi Gadhafi was released after he was acquitted on charges dating back to the uprising against his father’s rule. Following his release, he traveled to Turkey, according to the al-Marsad news website.

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“We cannot move forward without achieving reconciliation,” Dbeibah said in the tweet announcing the release. His government has been given the task of leading the war-wrecked country to elections before the end of this year.

At the time of the 2011 revolt, al-Saadi Gadhafi headed a special forces brigade that was involved in the crackdown on protesters rebels.

Al-Saadi Gadhafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, watches a military exercise by the elite military unit commanded by his brother, Khamis, in Zlitan – 90 miles southeast of Tripoli, Libya, in a photo released in 2011. (Associated Press)

He was smuggled across the desert to Niger in 2011 just as his father’s regime was crumbling. He was extradited in March 2014 after he, as well as colleagues who accompanied him, “failed to respect the conditions of his stay in Niger,” the West African nation’s government said at the time.

The dictator had eight children, most of whom played significant roles in his regime. His son Muatassim was killed at the same time Gadhafi was captured slain. Two other sons, Seif al-Arab Khamis, were killed earlier in the uprising.

Seif al-Islam, the one-time heir apparent to his father, has been in Libya since his release from detention in 2017. Another son, Hannibal, is reportedly detained in Lebanon.

Libyan leader Moammar al-Qaddafi is seen in Damascus, Syria, in 2008. He was assassinated in 2011. (Associated Press)

Libyan leader Moammar al-Qaddafi is seen in Damascus, Syria, in 2008. He was assassinated in 2011. (Associated Press)

The rest of the children are still at large having sought asylum in neighboring Algeria along with Gaddafi’s wife al-Saadi’s mother, Safiya. The mother, a sister two brothers were granted asylum in Oman in 2012 moved there from Algeria.

During his father’s rule, al-Saadi Gadhafi was known for his lavish lifestyle he treated Libya’s soccer league as his personal fiefdom. He played for several Libyan teams — for an Italian team until he failed a drug test. At various times, he headed Libya’s soccer federation its national team.

In one case, security forces opened fire on fans at a 1996 match attended by al-Saadi, killing a number of people in murky circumstances. He is also suspected in the 2005 killing of Bashir al-Riyani, a popular Libyan soccer player who was a vocal critic of Gadhafi’s regime.

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Following his extradition, prosecutors in Libya said he faced charges in connection to abductions rapes during the 2011 uprising, misuse of his post the killing of al-Riyani.

The elder Gadhafi ruled Libya with an eccentric brutality for nearly 42 years before he was ousted by an uprising in August 2011. He was captured killed two months later.

The oil-rich country plunged into chaos after the uprising has been ruled for most of the past decade by rival governments based in Libya’s west the east, each backed by armed groups foreign governments.

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20 Paris terror suspects from attacks that killed 130 in 2015 face trial beginning Wednesday

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PARIS — In a secure complex embedded within a 13th-century courthouse, France on Wednesday will begin the trial of 20 men accused in the Islamic State group’s 2015 attacks on Paris that left 130 people dead hundreds injured.

Nine gunmen suicide bombers struck within minutes of each other at France’s national soccer stadium, the Bataclan concert hall Paris restaurants cafes on Nov. 13, 2015. Survivors of the attacks as well as those who mourn their dead are expected to pack the rooms, which were designed to hold 1,800 plaintiffs 350 lawyers.

The lone survivor of the extremist cell from that night, Salah Abdeslam, is the key defendant among those being tried for the deadliest attack in France since World War II. He is the only one charged with murder. The same IS network went on to strike Brussels months later, killing another 32 people.

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Dominique Kielemoes, whose son bled to death at one of the cafes that night, said the month dedicated to victims’ testimonies at the trial will be crucial to both their own healing that of the nation.

“The assassins, these terrorists, thought they were firing into the crowd, into a mass of people. But it wasn’t a mass — these were individuals who had a life, who loved, had hopes expectations, that we need to talk about at the trial. It’s important.” she said.

A victim of an attack in Paris lies dead outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, Nov. 13, 2015. In all, the attacks killed 130 people. (Associated Press)

Twenty men are charged, but six of them will be tried in absentia. Abdeslam, who abandoned his rental car in northern Paris discarded a malfunctioning suicide vest before fleeing home to Brussels, has refused to speak with investigators. But he holds the answers to many of the remaining questions about the attack the people who planned it, both in Europe abroad.

The modern courtroom was constructed within the storied 13th-century Palais de Justice in Paris, where Marie Antoinette Emile Zola faced trial, among others.

For the first time, victims can also have a secure audio link to listen from home if they want with a 30-minute delay.

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The trial is scheduled to last nine months. The month of September will be dedicated to laying out the police forensic evidence. October will be given over to victims’ testimony. From November to December, officials including former French President François Hollande will testify, as will relatives of the attackers.

Abdeslam will be questioned multiple times. He has so far refused to talk to investigators.

None of the proceedings will be televised or rebroadcast to the public, but they will be recorded for archival purposes. Video recording has only been allowed for a handful of cases in France considered to be of historical value, including last year’s trial for the 2015 attacks against the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris a kosher supermarket.

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Taliban’s interior minister is on FBI’s most-wanted list, believed to be holding American hostage

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Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the terror group known as the Haqqani network who is wanted by the FBI, has been named the Taliban’s interim interior minister, which was seen by some as a slap in the face to the U.S. Western countries. 

The Haqqani network is known to be a ruthless arm of the Taliban has been blamed on attacks in the country against coalition forces. The FBI has a $10 million bounty on his head. It is believed that he is holding at least one American hostage, according to the Associated Press.

The White House, FBI State Department did not immediately respond to after-hour emails from Fox News.

He will oversee law enforcement in Kabul.

Seth Jones, a senior vice president director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic International Studies, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Haqqani’s position is the “Afghan equivalent of the director of the FBI.”

“The Taliban’s appointment—days before the 20th anniversary of the terror attack – is nothing less than a slap in the face of the U.S. its Western allies,” he wrote.

The Haqqani network maintains a relationship with al Qaeda, the BBC reported.

“Haqqani is wanted for questioning in connection with the January 2008 attack on a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed six people, including an American citizen,” the FBI’s database said. “He is believed to have coordinated participated in cross-border attacks against United States coalition forces in Afghanistan. Haqqani also allegedly was involved in the planning of the assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2008.”

He is the son of the founder of the terror network.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was named Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akund’s deputy, served as a senior Taliban commander in the insurgency against the U.S., Reuters reported.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been one of the most vocal critics of the Taliban’s interim government called it a “lineup of thugs butchers.”

“What could possibly go wrong with this cast of characters?” Graham said in an interview with the BBC. “If you’re a radical Islamic sympathizer, this is an all-star lineup.”

Obaidullah Baheer, a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera the Taliban did not do “their cause for international recognition any favors.”

“The amount of time spent wasn’t on discussing or negotiating inclusivity or potential power sharing with other political parties. That time was spent on knowing how to split that pie amongst their own ranks,” he said.

The White House said there is “no rush” to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan.

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“The world will be watching whether they allow for American citizens, whether they allow individuals to leave who want to, how they treat women girls around the country,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said. 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman the Associated Press contributed to this report

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Strong earthquake hits east of Acapulco, Mexico, ‘people are worried’

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A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rattled the southwest region of Mexico late Tuesday prompting local leaders to appeal for calm in communities impacted.

Social media images showed buildings swaying people standing outside their homes trying to keep their balance during an apparent aftershock. 

“There are nervous breakdowns, people are worried because there have been aftershocks,” Adela Román, the mayor of Acapulco, told television news outlet Milenio. She said there are “many gas leaks in many places” as well as some landslides fallen walls. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the quake, he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 10 miles northeast of Román’s city. The quake was so powerful, it caused buildings to rock sway in Mexico City, nearly 200 miles away. The ground shook for nearly a minute in some parts of the capital some people evacuated their buildings briefly.

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People gather outside on the sidewalk after a strong earthquake was felt, in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.  (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)

Mexico City authorities added there were no early reports of significant damage in the city, though they said electricity was knocked out in some neighborhoods. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Mexico’s Supreme Court declares anti-abortion laws unconstitutional

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In a decisive blow to the pro-life movement, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that punishing abortion is unconstitutional, setting a historic precedent in the heavily Roman Catholic country that will compel other judges to follow suit. 

Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it is unconstitutional to punish abortion, unanimously annulling several provisions of a law from Coahuila — a state on the Texas border — that had made abortion a criminal act. 

A woman holds a banner reading, in Spanish, “Legal, safe, free abortion, legalize decriminalize abortion now, for the independence autonomy of our bodies,” as abortion-rights protesters demonstrate in front of the National Congress in Mexico City.
(AP)

“From now on you will not be able to, without violating the court’s criteria the constitution, charge any woman who aborts under the circumstances this court has ruled as valid,” court President Arturo Zaldívar said. 

Those circumstances will be clarified when the decision is published, but everything points to that referring to abortions carried out within the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, the period allowed in the four states where abortion is already legal.

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The decision comes one week after a Texas law took effect prohibiting abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity in the fetus. It allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman getting the procedure.

Only four Mexican states — Mexico City, Oaxaca, Veracruz Hidalgo — now allow abortion in most circumstances. The other 28 states penalize abortion with some exceptions.

Mexico is a heavily Roman Catholic country. The church was a powerful institution through colonial times after Mexico’s independence, but a reform movement in the mid-19th century sharply limited the church’s role in daily life. 

The topic still remains deeply controversial in Mexico, that divide was on full display Tuesday as groups from both sides demonstrated outside the court. 

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The decision could potentially open another option for Texas women seeking legal abortions along Mexico’s long shared border with the Lone Star State. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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