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FBI Chief Warns Violent ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Growing In US

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FBI Director, Chris Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of investigations.

Wray also defended to lawmakers his own agency’s handling of an intelligence report that warned of the prospect for violence on Jan. 6. And he firmly rejected false claims advanced by some Republicans that anti-Trump groups had organized the deadly riot that began when a violent mob stormed the building as Congress was gathering to certify results of the presidential election.

Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his first before Congress since the insurrection, was the latest in a series of hearings centered on the law enforcement response to the Capitol insurrection.

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Lawmakers pressed him not only about possible intelligence and communication failures ahead of the riot but also about the threat of violence from white supremacists, militias and other extremists that the FBI says it is prioritizing with the same urgency as the menace of international terrorism organizations.

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“Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “At the FBI, we’ve been sounding the alarm on it for a number of years now.”

The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that remade itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now laboring to address homegrown violence by white Americans.

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President Joe Biden’s administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat.

And in applying the domestic terrorism label to conduct inside the Capitol, Wray sought to make clear to senators that he was clear-eyed about the scope and urgency of the threat.

Wray said the number of domestic terrorism investigations has increased from around 1,000 when he became FBI director in 2017 to about 2,000 now, stressing that number of white supremacist arrests has almost tripled.

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Many of the senators’ questions Tuesday centered on the FBI’s handling of a Jan. 5 report from its Norfolk, Virginia, field office that warned of online posts foreshadowing a “war” in Washington the following day.

Capitol Police leaders have said they were unaware of that report and had received no intelligence from the FBI that would have led them to expect the sort of violence that besieged them on the 6th. Five people died that day, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot as she tried to climb through a smashed window into the House chamber with lawmakers still inside.

Wray said the report was disseminated though the FBI’s joint terrorism task force, discussed at a command post in Washington and posted on an internet portal available to other law enforcement agencies.

Though the information was raw, unverified and appeared aspirational in nature, Wray said, it was specific and concerning enough that “the smartest thing to do, the most prudent thing to do, was just push it to the people who needed to get it.

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“We did communicate that information in a timely fashion to the Capitol Police and (Metropolitan Police Department) in not one, not two, but three different ways,” Wray said, though he added that since the violence that ensued was “not an acceptable result,” the FBI was looking into what it could have done differently.

He said he was “reluctant to armchair quarterback anyone else in their jobs,” but the FBI was determined to prevent a repeat of Jan. 6.

“We find it personally infuriating any time we are not able, as I said, to bat 1,000. And we’re going to keep working to get better,” he said.

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The sprawling Justice Department investigation into the riot has already produced hundreds of charges, including against members of militia groups and far-right organizations.

The crowd in Washington that day ranged from protesters who did not break any laws to a smaller group that arrived determined to commit violence against police and disrupt Congress from its duties, Wray said.

Some of those people clearly came to Washington, we now know, with the plans and intentions to engage in the worst kind of violence we would consider domestic terrorism,” he said.

Asked whether there was evidence that the attack was planned or carried out by antifa — an umbrella term for leftist militants — or by Trump opponents posing as his loyalists, Wray said that there was not. Some on the right have made such false contentions.

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Even as the FBI prioritizes its efforts to counter domestic violent extremism, there are challenges confronting law enforcement, including in separating mere chatter from actual threats and in First Amendment protections that give ample leeway to espouse racist or otherwise abhorrent viewpoints.

“The amount of angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent even, rhetoric on social media exceeds what anybody in their worst imagination (thinks) is out there,” Wray said.

Wray has kept a notably low profile since the Capitol attack. Though he has briefed lawmakers privately and shared information with local law enforcement, Tuesday’s oversight hearing marked his first public appearance before Congress since before November’s presidential election.

(AP)

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Man, 38 Escapes Assassination Attempt In Benin

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Innocent Omoruyi

By Omokha Andrew

A 38-year-old activist, Innocent Omoruyi, narrowly escaped assassination in the early hours of Wednesday, July 19, 2023 as his residence at Obe Community,Sapele Road in Benin city was attacked by yet to be identified gun men.

The attack which eye witnesses say was viciously executed on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 bore the markings of a dreaded cult group terrorizing Benin City, the state capital.

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The Obe, Sapale Road incident, it was learnt, happened soon after Omoruyi left the house to attend to matters of interest some few metres away from his home.

The assailants were said to have shot sporadically in their frustration as residents scampered for safety.

However, Omoruyi escaped unharmed.

One of the eye witnesses who craved anonymity said: “The felons apparently went for the kill, weilding guns and other dangerous weapons. “We are shocked that they didn’t see Innocent Omoruyi who was just some few metres away from home when they arrived”.

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“How that happened, only God knows and it was obvious that it wasn’t his time to die yet and just before that not long ago his business place on Lagos Street, Benin City was burnt down in the middle of the night by unknown arsonists.

“This sequence of events is not ordinary. We know it’s politically motivated due to the role he played in the last general elections. He has been advised to go into hiding at the moment for his personal safety”, he concluded.

When contacted, the police Public Relations Officer Chidi Nwabuzor said he was yet to get any information as regards the latest incident. He promised to feed our correspondent with relevant details as soon as they become handy.

Our information source however revealed that the matter has already been incidented at the Love World Police station on Sapele Road, Benin city.

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Nigeria To Earn Over $4bn Revenue As FEC Okays Concession Of Abuja, Kano Airports

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Nigeria will earn over $4 billion in nominal revenue as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday okayed the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano, to the Corporacion American Airport Consortium, a Luxembourg-based company.

James Odaudu, the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

According to him, the Council also approved that the Federal Ministry of Aviation would be renamed the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace.

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The statement noted that the company would make combined upfront payments of $8.5 million for the concession of NAIA and MAKIA.

He added that the development would spur evidential growth within the Nigerian aviation industry.

In alignment with the Aviation Roadmap, approved by Mr President on 18th October 2016, the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace is delighted to inform all stakeholders, both local and international, and the media, that the concession of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano has been approved by the Federal Executive Council,” the statement said.

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In December 2022 and January 2023, Corporacion American Airport Consortium was announced as the preferred bidder for the airport’s concession after scaling through a series of evaluations of technical and financial bids.

Nominal revenues mean income not adjusted for inflation and decreasing purchasing power.

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Russia Expelled From Council Of Europe Amid War With Ukraine

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The Council of Europe says it has expelled Russia with immediate effect after 26 years of membership because of the Ukraine war.

The Committee of Ministers took the decision in a special session, the rights body announced in the French city of Strasbourg on Wednesday.

Earlier, Russia had already declared its withdrawal from the Council of Europe after it had taken steps to exclude it.

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On Tuesday evening, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted unanimously in favour of Russia’s exclusion.

Russia joined the Council of Europe on Feb. 28, 1996.

Together with the formal notification of the withdrawal, the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe also received information from the Russian Federation on Tuesday about its intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a statement on Tuesday evening, the leaders of the Council of Europe once again condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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They expressed their solidarity with the Russian people, who continue to belong to the European family and share its values.

The body said it would continue to stand by Ukraine in the fight against the aggressor.

The Council of Europe monitors the observance of human rights in its 46 member states and is not part of the European Union.

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The body reacted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine two weeks ago by suspending Russia’s membership, this decision was considered historic.

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