05-18-2022  3:36 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Election Day-Ballots Need to be Dropped Off or Postmarked Before 8 P.M.

Today, May 17, 2022, is the last day to vote in the Primary Election. Voted ballots must be received at any county elections office in Oregon or Official Ballot Drop Site location tonight by 8 p.m., or mailed and postmarked by May 17, 2022 to be counted.

2022 Midterms: What to Watch as 5 States Hold Primaries

Tuesday, May 17, 2022 is the last day for voters to return ballots. Ballots that are mailed must be postmarked by election day. Ballots deposited in an official drop box must be received by 8 p.m. on election day.

No Sea Serpents, Mobsters but Tahoe Trash Divers Strike Gold

Scuba divers who spent a year cleaning up Lake Tahoe’s entire 72-mile shoreline have come away with what they hope will prove a valuable incentive

House Passes Bipartisan Update to Anti-Poverty Program Led by Bonamici, Thompson

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program has not been updated since 1998.

NEWS BRIEFS

2 Pleasure Boats Catch Fire on Columbia River

Two pleasure boats caught fire on the Columbia River between Vancouver and Caterpillar Island Sunday afternoon. One boat sank,...

WA Childhood Immunization Rates Decline During Pandemic

Immunization rates have decreased by 13% in 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic level ...

Attorney General Rosenblum Warns Against Price Gouging of Baby Formula

This declaration will allow the Oregon Attorney General to take action against any business, or online vendor, who upsells the price...

WA High Court: Drivers Can Get DUIs for Driving While High

A decision that upholds the state’s decade-old law regulating marijuana use behind the wheel of a car. ...

Community Basketball Game and Discussion Events Work to Reduce Gun Violence

Basketball game features Black youth and police officers playing together ...

Ballot counting issues delay results in OR House primary

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Issues with counting ballots in Oregon's third-largest county could delay for days a definitive result in a key U.S. House primary where Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader was facing a strong challenge from a progressive candidate. Schrader was trailing Tuesday in...

Controversies sink reelection bid of GOP Rep. Cawthorn

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s unexpected 2020 win made him the youngest member of Congress and a rising Republican star. Then the scandals started to pile up. On Tuesday, the 26-year-old conservative North Carolina firebrand left his election night party early,...

OPINION

Can Federal Lynching Law Help Heal America?

Despite decades of senseless delays, this new law pushes America to finally acknowledge that racism often correlates to a level of violence and terror woven into the very fabric of this country. ...

The Skanner News Endorsements: May Primary 2022

Primary election day is May 17, 2022. Read The Skanner's endorsements for this important election. ...

Men’s Voices Urgently Needed to Defend Reproductive Rights

For decades, men in increasing numbers have followed women’s lead in challenging gender-based violence and promoting gender equality, so why are we stuck when it comes to abortion? ...

Burying Black Cemeteries: Off the Record

It is a tragedy when we lose a loved one. That tragedy is compounded when are unable to visit their final resting place to honor and remember them. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Sri Lankan protesters include Tamil victims in war memorial

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan protesters lit flames and offered prayers Wednesday remembering thousands — including ethnic Tamil civilians — killed in the final stages of the country’s decadeslong civil war, in the first-ever event where mostly majority ethnic Sinhalese openly...

Buffalo shooting leaves neighborhood without a grocery store

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tops Friendly Market was more than a place to buy groceries. As the only supermarket for miles, it became a sort of community hub on Buffalo's East Side — where you chatted with neighbors and caught up on people's lives. “It’s where we go to buy bread and...

Lawsuit: Students taunted Black student, threatened lynching

Administrators at a Missouri school district that is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation failed to protect a Black teen from repeated racial taunts that culminated with him being threatened with a lynching, a lawsuit alleges. The suit filed this month in state court...

ENTERTAINMENT

Wesley Morgan wins Colby award for 'The Hardest Place'

NEW YORK (AP) — Author and journalist Wesley Morgan is this year's winner of the William E. Colby Award for military and intelligence writing. He was cited for his book “The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley." The Colby award, a ,000...

Review: Actress Selma Blair bares soul in captivating memoir

"Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up,” by Selma Blair (Alfred A. Knopf) Most people probably know Selma Blair from her memorable roles in late ‘90s/early '00’s hit films such as “Cruel Intentions," “Legally Blonde” and “Hellboy.” Perhaps others are familiar...

ABC tries something brave: drama with journalist as hero

ABC is bringing actress Hilary Swank and the writer of the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” together for a new drama about a journalist working in Alaska. The Thursday series “Alaska” headlines a fall schedule announced Tuesday that also includes an hourlong celebrity...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Analysis: Condolence calls from elite show UAE ruler's power

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Coming from around the globe, airplanes carrying world leaders have landed in...

Watchdog: US troop pullout was key factor in Afghan collapse

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says decisions by Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to pull all U.S....

Will Turkey upend NATO expansion? US officials seek clarity

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan taking an increasingly tough line against the NATO...

Clashes break out in Tripoli, drive rival Libyan PM away

CAIRO (AP) — An attempt by one of Libya’s rival prime ministers to seat his government in the capital of...

Bad Kitty: German town grounds cats to save rare birds

BERLIN (AP) — What a cat-astrophe! Authorities in the southwest German town of Walldorf have...

Watchdog: US troop pullout was key factor in Afghan collapse

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says decisions by Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to pull all U.S....

Elise Labott CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department has put a multimillion-dollar bounty on the heads of two Americans who the United States claims belong to an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, CNN has learned.

Posters and matchbooks in Somali and English emblazoned with the names and pictures of Omar Shafik Hammami and Jehad Serwan Mostafa tout rewards up to $5 million each for information leading to their arrest or conviction. Both men are on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List.

The rewards are being offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program.

Hammami and Mostafa are members of Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, and "have made significant contributions to this terrorist organization's media and military activities," according to a State Department statement on the rewards, obtained by CNN. They are both are believed to be in Somalia and speak English, Arabic and Somali.

A senior FBI official said the United States has information that both men "had a persistent interest in targeting U.S. interests" and are "believed to be involved in planning attacks on U.S. persons or property." But it is unclear what specific attacks against Americans, even ones that have been thwarted, these men have taken part in. Officials said that information is classified.

Hammami, a 29-year-old Alabama native, moved to Somalia in 2006. The State Department claims he joined Al-Shabaab there and received training from Islamic militants, rising through the organization's ranks to command a contingent of foreign fighters. Officials say he was also a "propagandist" for the group, helping to recruit English-speaking youth through writings, rap songs and video statements.

An Alabama court indicted him in 2009 on charges of providing support to a terrorist group.

In July 2011, the Treasury Department placed him on a blacklist prohibiting Americans from doing business with individuals and groups threatening stability in Somalia.

Hammami has been engaged in a public rift with Al-Shabaab over the past year. Last March, he first expressed concern about his safety in an extraordinary Web video. He has since criticized the group's leaders for corruption and living extravagant lifestyles with money fighters collect from Somali residents, and for fighting only in Somalia while ignoring global jihad.

Hammami's family has said they fear for his life.

But the senior FBI official told CNN that Hammami's current status with the group is "immaterial" and that the reward is based on the actions he has already taken to threaten U.S. interests.

"We still believe he is an individual of great significance to the activities that are going on in Somalia with Al-Shabaab," the official said.

Mostafa is believed to be either 27 or 32. He was born in Wisconsin before moving California, where he attended college. He traveled to Somalia in 2005, where officials say he led foreign fighters for Al-Shabaab and served as a media expert and recruiter. He was indicted in California on charges of providing material support to Al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab was labeled a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 2008. The group was responsible for the July 2010 suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, that killed more than 70 people, including a U.S. citizen, gathering to watch a World Cup final soccer match. Al-Shabaab is also believed to be responsible for numerous other attacks in Somalia that have killed international aid workers, journalists, civilian leaders and African Union peacekeepers.

In February 2012 the group's leader, Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video announcing the alliance of the two organizations. The Rewards for Justice Program is already offering up to $7 million for information on seven other Al-Shabaab leaders.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved the rewards before leaving office. Officials said they hope the rewards will generate new leads from both Somalia and in Somali-American communities in the United States. In addition to the posters and matchbooks, U.S. officials will be talking with local media in Somalia to reach people that may have information about the men's whereabouts.

It is rare for the United States to offer a reward for an American citizen. The most notable previous reward offered for an American was $1 million for Adam Gadahn, who has served as senior operative and spokesman for the core al Qaeda organization.

Officials said that in addition to their leadership roles with a terrorist group, the men are of great interest because of their work trying to recruit other English-speaking youth.

"Anytime we have U.S. citizens who are trying to affiliate with groups to obtain experience and training and have the opportunity to bring back that lethal experience back to the United States, it's a concern," a State Department diplomatic security official said. "There is no question the cases against these two guys are based on their activities to date. However, we have a continuing interest in terrorist activates in Somalia right up to now. And these men serve as very powerful images for radicalization and recruitment."

The new bounties raise the question of what the United States will do with the men once they find them. The Obama administration drew fire from Congress and human rights groups for killing two Americans who belonged to the al Qaeda branch in Yemen. In September 2011, U.S. drone strikes killed Anwar al -Awlaki, a firebrand preacher from New Mexico who began running propaganda for al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and rose to become a senior operative in the group, and Samir Khan from North Carolina, who created an English-language Internet magazine for the group

Both officials said the Rewards for Justice Program -- administered by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security -- is not involved in drone programs and the intent of the reward is to obtain information that will lead to the men's apprehension and prosecution.

"The purpose of the program is to gather information to bring these guys back lawfully," the senior FBI official said. "We want to bring these people before a court."

The Rewards for Justice Program pays large sums of money for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits or attempts international terrorist acts. Earlier this year, President Obama expanded the program to include payments for information about people involved in transnational organized crime or foreign nationals wanted by any international criminal tribunal for war crimes or genocide.

The program has a track record of gaining actionable intelligence. Since its inception in 1984, the program has paid more than $125 million to more than 80 people who provided information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide. The program was central to the capture of Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai; Ramzi Yousef, convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; and others.

Under the Rewards for Justice Program, a $25 million reward was offered for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden.

 

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