Review Category : National News

FBI: Indiana Teen Wanted to Join ISIS, Researched Homeland Terror Targets

Department of Justice(INDIANAPOLIS) — Federal officials arrested an 18-year-old Indiana man Tuesday who the FBI said had researched potential terrorist targets in his home state before attempting to make his way out of the country and eventually join ISIS in Libya.

Akram Musleh was intercepted by authorities at an Indianapolis Greyhound bus station this afternoon as he tried to board a bus to New York, according to a criminal complaint unsealed by the Department of Justice. From there, the complaint said Musleh planned to fly to Morocco and then make his way to ISIS fighters in Libya.

But before he attempted to leave the U.S., Musleh searched online for information about potential terror targets in Indiana, explosive materials and pressure cookers. An FBI agent followed him in early May to a local Walmart where the complaint says Musleh appeared to “shop for pressure cookers, but left without making a purchase.” Pressure cookers have been used to house explosive devices, such as the twin bombs that exploded during the Boston Marathon in April 2013.

The FBI apparently first came across Musleh back in August 2013 when he posted videos on YouTube of the late American al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a man who is thought to have at least partly inspired a growing number of homegrown jihadists. Officials at Musleh’s high school, “in coordination with the FBI, took steps to dissuade Musleh [from] engaging in radical extremism.”

Apparently, it didn’t take. In September 2014, Musleh purportedly bought a black flag often associated with ISIS online and a few months later posed for photos in front of it. In several online conversations apparently monitored by investigators, Musleh discusses with ISIS sympathizers — and at least one FBI “confidential human source” — his desire to join ISIS and in one part says he pledged his allegiance to the terror group, according to the complaint.

Musleh made his initial court appearance Tuesday and is being represented by a public defender, according to Tim Horty, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice. He is scheduled to be back in court on Monday and faces up to 20 years in prison, the DOJ said.

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238 Alleged Child Predators Arrested in a 2-Month Sting in Southern California, Police Say

moodboard/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A national task force that was given the mission of cracking down on child predators has arrested 238 people in Southern California during a two-month sting, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

During April and May, the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force launched “Operation Broken Heart III,” according to the LAPD.

The Los Angeles Regional ICAC operation resulted in the arrest of 238 child predators. The national crackdown on cyber predators resulted in 1,368 arrests, just during the months of April and May, an LAPD spokesperson told ABC News Tuesday.

“The perpetrators in these cases include entertainers, community leaders, white collar professionals and even members of the clergy,” John Reynolds, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge, said in a news conference on Monday.

People were arrested in the crackdown “for charges such as possession and distribution of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution and sex tourism,” LAPD Deputy Chief Matt Blake said at the news conference.

Among those arrested was a 70-year-old British man who had previously been charged with coming to U.S. to have sex with pre-teen boys, and now faces child pornography offenses, the Department of Homeland Security said in astatement.

A Laotian monk, in the U.S. with a religious workers visa, was also arrested at the Wat Lao Buddhist Monastery in Riverside, California, for allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography, according to the Riverside District Attorney’s Office.

Norma Eisenman, a public information officer for the LAPD, told ABC News Tuesday it is important for parents to “monitor your kids’ use of the computer” and “make sure you check their phones,” as that is how many of these criminals prey on kids.

“A lot of these people camouflage themselves as someone else,” Eisenman said. “They get their confidence and then they start requesting nude pictures.”

“My motto to my daughters is, ‘I pay the bill, I have the right to your passwords,'” Eisenman said.

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Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Visited Club Before Attack, Police Say

ABC News(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The Orlando gunman had visited the Pulse nightclub and left before returning with an assault rifle and opening fire there, killing 49 people and injuring dozens of others, police said.

In addition, Mateen’s wife — Salman Noor — has told investigators that before her husband left their Port St. Lucie, Florida, home that day for the two-hour drive to Orlando, she saw him with what looked like guns inside a bag and expressed “concern” that he was apparently leaving the house, as one source with knowledge of the investigation told ABC News.

Authorities have also determined that the day before the attack, three plane tickets were purchased online for Omar Mateen, his wife and their son to travel to San Francisco next month, according to the source. It’s unclear who purchased the tickets.

These new details, first reported by CNN, came as Attorney General Loretta Lynch suggested there may be more than just one motivation behind the attack.

“Whenever you look at someone’s motivation or intent, whether living or whether they’re dead, you look at their actions and their activities surrounding the event,” Lynch said Tuesday while visiting law enforcement and first responders in Orlando. “I cannot tell you definitely that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. People often act out of more than one motivations, this was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.”

Lynch insisted the investigation is “active, it is open, it is ongoing,” and she said authorities are still “working to identify anyone he had contact with that night, up to obviously and including any phone contact, any kind of electronic communication that he had.”

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Car Packed With Guns Stopped at Holland Tunnel Outside New York, Police Say

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — Three people were taken into custody Tuesday after police found several weapons in their car as they headed into the Holland Tunnel en route to New York City.

Police recovered seven guns — including rifles and handguns — as well as four knives, 10 clips of ammunition, body armor and a military-grade helmet.

The number of weapons in the car raised suspicions, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force was called, but two law enforcement officials told ABC News there does not appear to be a link to terrorism.

The reason for the large number of weapons was not immediately clear; one police source said it appeared to be related to heroin.

The three taken into custody told police they are self-styled vigilantes and said they were driving to the city’s borough of Queens to rescue a teen girl who recently overdosed and was not in a good situation.

Police stopped the two men and one woman Tuesday morning at the New Jersey toll plaza of the Holland Tunnel — which runs from Jersey City to lower Manhattan — because their car had a cracked windshield, Port Authority Police said.

A Port Authority police officer spotted a gun on a seat in the car, officials said.

Drugs were also allegedly recovered.

All three suspects are being held in Jersey City, police said.

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Three Arrested with Cache of Weapons at Holland Tunnel

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — Three people from Pennsylvania were arrested Tuesday after they were discovered with a large cache of weapons at the entrance to one of the busiest tunnels in the U.S.

The Port Authority Police Department confirmed to ABC News that two men in their 50’s and a woman in her 20’s were arrested on the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel Tuesday morning during a traffic stop. Police said they discovered multiple weapons inside their vehicle including rifles and handguns, some of which were loaded, as well as ammunition and bullet proof vests.

The Join Terrorism Task Force was alerted, but authorities said they did not believe the suspects were connected to terrorism. A police source told ABC News the large amount of guns appeared to be related to drugs.

The suspects are now being held in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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Funeral Held in Nebraska for Boy Killed by Gator at Disney Resort

Orange County Sheriff’s Office(OMAHA, Neb.) — A funeral was held Tuesday in Nebraska for 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was killed in a gator attack at Disney World last week.

The service was scheduled at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Omaha neighborhood of Elkhorn.

Lane’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, said in a statement: “Melissa and I again want to express our gratitude to our family, friends and community for the love and support we continue to receive. We are appreciative of the news media professionals who have demonstrated integrity by allowing us much needed privacy.”

“Today we will say goodbye to Lane but we do so, comforted by so many friends and strangers who share in our loss and who have shown us profound compassion,” they added.

The deadly incident happened June 14 at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, Florida, when a gator snatched the boy into the water. His body was found the next day.

Disney Chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger called the Graves family last week and released a statement about the boy’s death.

“As a parent and a grandparent, my heart goes out to the Graves family during this time of devastating loss,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with them, and I know everyone at Disney joins me in offering our deepest sympathies.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Winds and Hot Temps Fuel Fast-Moving Fires in Southern California

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Erratic winds and triple-digit temperatures are feeding fast-moving fires that are burning across Southern California amid a record heat wave.

As Los Angeles hit a high of 101 degrees Monday, twin wildfires called the Reservoir and the Fish burned through the San Gabriel Valley area near the city, forcing evacuations.

The fires have burned a total of 5,400 acres combined and neither has been contained as of Tuesday morning, according to Angeles National Forest officials.

Some firefighters told ABC News these were the hottest conditions they’ve ever had to work under.

Here’s one view of the Reservoir fire Monday afternoon:

#ReservoirFire Video of the Fire from the Command Post

— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) June 20, 2016

And a view of the Fish fire Monday night:

A view of the #FishFire tonite. If #LASD deps ask you to evacuate, please do so. Bring your meds & important docs.

— Sergeant Bob (@LASDBob) June 21, 2016

Fires have threatened areas north and south of Los Angeles, too. In the San Diego-area town of Potrero, a blaze called the Border Fire tore through about 1,500 acres this weekend, forcing evacuations.

In the Santa Barbara area, the Sherpa fire, which began last week, has burned more than 7,000 acres.

The threat of fires is extending beyond the Golden State — there are at least 17 large wildfires burning in eight western states, including Alaska.

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‘Strawberry Moon’ Lights Up Sky in Rare Lunar Event

NASA(NEW YORK) — Summer arrived in style with a rare strawberry moon that illuminated the sky Monday night.

The moon was low for much of the night and appeared to have an amber hue in some places due to atmospheric conditions. The strawberry name comes from the Algonquin Indians and refers to the relatively short season for harvesting the fruit, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

A full moon, of course, isn’t a rare event. This occurrence is special, however, because it fell on the same day as the summer solstice. The last time this happened was in June of 1967, according to EarthSky.

The next time the summer solstice and a full moon are expected to fall on the same date will be June 21, 2062.

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AG Loretta Lynch to Visit Orlando Tuesday

US Department of Justice(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Attorney General Loretta Lynch is visiting Orlando Tuesday, 10 days after the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub.

Lynch will receive an on-the-ground briefing of the ongoing investigation into the massacre, in which self-described “Islamic soldier” Omar Mateen killed 49 people in the club, and took hostages, before dying in a gun battle with police.

The high-profile visit follows on the heels of new information released by the FBI Monday, including a transcript of a phone conversation Mateen had with the Orlando Police Department.

References to terrorist organizations were originally redacted from the conversation in order to avoid giving extremists a “publicity platform” for propaganda, but later on Monday, the Justice Department reversed course by confirming that Mateen pledged support to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.

There is no evidence Mateen received direction from any foreign terrorist group, and the most likely scenario is that he was self-radicalized, according to the FBI.

The document released by the FBI also included an updated timeline of the attack. Mateen entered the club at approximately 2 a.m. and died shortly after 5 a.m., but details about the three hours inside of the club have emerged primarily from survivors of the attack, like Angel Colon, who told ABC News last week about a police officer who pulled him from the floor of the club while Mateen was engaged in a gunfight with other officers, or a man going by the name “Orlando,” who played dead on the floor of the club’s bathroom to survive.

The FBI said that an air conditioning vent was removed at approximately 4:21 a.m., enabling some victims to evacuate the club. At 4:29, the victims told police, the shooter “said he was going to put four vests with bombs on victims within 15 minutes.” At 5:02 a.m., the SWAT team, as well as the hazardous device team, breached the wall of the club.

Meanwhile, the domestic terror attack has split America’s political establishment. The Senate voted down four gun control measures Monday evening, with Democrats and Republicans largely divided along party lines.

The last time a domestic terror incident mobilized the Senate into action was after the San Bernardino, California, shooting in December 2015, when two measures intended to prevent terrorists from being able to buy guns also failed to pass.

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Deaths of Twins Found in Truck Were Heat-Related, Police Say

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSSIER CITY, La.) — The deaths of 3-year-old twins who were found unresponsive in a pickup truck outside their Louisiana home were “heat-related,” according to preliminary findings from their autopsies, police said.

The autopsies for the brother and sister, who died Saturday, were conducted Sunday, and the “heat-related” findings are preliminary, Bossier City police spokesman Mark Natale told ABC News Monday. The Bossier Parish Coroner’s Office declined to comment.

The temperature reached 92 degrees in the area on Saturday.

The incident happened Saturday when the mother, who was home, told neighbors she was looking for her children, twins Oliver and Aria Orr, police said.

The mother and neighbors searched around the home and they then found the children unresponsive in a pickup truck parked outside the house and called 911, police said.

Police and fire crews responded just after 3 p.m. Responders took the children to the hospital, where they were both pronounced dead, police said.

No physical trauma was found on the children, Natale said.

Detectives with the Bossier City police juvenile unit are investigating how the children ended up in the truck, Natale said. No charges have been filed at this time but the investigation is ongoing, Natale said.

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