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2 Pakistani brothers return home after 20 years in Guantanamo
ISLAMABAD — Two Pakistani brothers held by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for two decades were freed and returned home Friday to be reunited with their families, officials said.
Pakistan arrested Abdul and Mohammed Rabbani on suspicion of links to al-Qaida in 2002 in Karachi, the country’s southern port and largest city. That same year, Ramzi Binalshibh, a top al-Qaida leader, was arrested by Pakistan’s spy agency — Inter-Services Intelligence — on a tip from the CIA.
The Rabbanis’ releases come months after a 75year-old Pakistani, Saifullah Paracha, was freed from Guantanamo.
The Foreign Ministry later Friday released a statement welcoming the brothers’ release, adding that it had “coordinated an extensive inter-agency process to facilitate repatriation” of the two.
Pakistani lawmaker Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, chairman of the human rights committee in the upper house of Pakistan’s Parliament, told The Associated Press that the brothers were on their way to Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, where their families live.
The brothers’ release was the latest U.S. move toward emptying and shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Former President George W. Bush’s administration set it up to house extremist suspects after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
U.S. officials accused the brothers of helping al-Qaida members with housing and other logistical support. The brothers alleged torture while in CIA custody before being transferred to Guantanamo. U.S. military records describe the two as providing little intelligence of value, and that they did not recant statements made during interrogations on the grounds they were obtained through physical abuse.
Guantanamo at its peak in 2003 held about 600 people considered terrorists by the U.S.
Thirty-two detainees remain, including 18 eligible for transfer if stable thirdparty countries can be found to take them, the Pentagon says.
Biden reelection plans: First lady Jill Biden gave one of the clearest indications yet that President Joe Biden will run for a second term, telling The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Friday that there’s “pretty much” nothing left to do but figure out the time and place for the announcement.
Although Biden has long said that it’s his intention to seek reelection, he has yet to make it official, and he’s struggled to dispel questions about whether he’s too old to continue serving as president. Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term.
“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” the first lady said in Nairobi, the second and final stop of her five-day trip to Africa.
She added, “He says he’s not done. He’s not finished what he’s started. And that’s what’s important.”
Baldwin set shooting: A film-industry weapons supervisor made her first formal court appearance Friday on a felony charge in the shooting death of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said his client will plead not guilty, but the judge did not take that plea during the virtual court proceeding. Instead, the judge issued conditions of release that allow GutierrezReed to keep a gun at home for self-defense.
Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin were charged last month with felony involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in October 2021.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney told the judge his client has received numerous threats and was forced to file for a restraining order against a stalker. He said authorities released documents related to the case and failed to redact identifying information including phone numbers.
Congo fighting: A rebel group linked with neighboring Rwanda seized more territory Friday, threatening supply routes to the regional capital, as fighting intensified in conflict-ridden east Congo, local residents and aid workers said.
As M23 rebels captured the village of Mushaki in North Kivu province after more than two days of fighting with government forces and militias, civilians — including refugees from other areas — fled.
Fighting in eastern Congo has been simmering for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources — while others try to defend their communities. But it spiked in late 2021 when M23, which was largely dormant for nearly a decade, resurfaced and started capturing territory.
M23 rose to prominence 10 years ago when its fighters seized Goma, eastern Congo’s largest city on the border with Rwanda. It derives its name from a March 23, 2009, peace deal, which it accuses the Congo government of not implementing.
Cyclone’s fury: Tropical Cyclone Freddy dumped “dangerous and exceptional rainfall levels” over Mozambique on Friday as the long-lasting weather system continued to wreak havoc across southern Africa, the United Nations weather agency said.
Freddy made landfall in the coastal town of Vilanculos with wind speeds of 70 mph and is now classified as an “intense tropical cyclone” after picking up speed over the Mozambique Channel.
The cyclone is projected to weaken as it barrels through southern Africa but still poses serious risk of heavy rainfall to the neighboring nations of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana, according to the regional weather center in Reunion.
Freddy plowed through Madagascar on Tuesday night, killing at least four and displacing more than 16,000, before regaining strength over the ocean Wednesday night and Thursday.
China mine collapse: Work crews trying to find 47 people missing after a collapse at an open-pit mine in northern China have had to change their excavation methods to avoid causing more landslides, state media reported Friday.
Six people have been confirmed dead and six injured people have been rescued at the mine in Inner Mongolia’s Alxa League as of Thursday night, broadcaster CCTV said.
With a large collapsed area at the mine, the crews are excavating by layers and making trapezoid-shaped descents to carry on their search from both sides of the mountain in an adjustment of their rescue plans, the report said.
The initial cave-in of one of the pit’s walls occurred at about 1 p.m. Wednesday, burying people and mining trucks below. A subsequent landslide about five hours later halted rescue efforts before they resumed Thursday.