MIAMI — Police have arrested a 15-year-old student accused of making a social media threat against Miami Senior High School, a threat that was then altered by others to affect other schools, Miami-Dade school district officials said Monday. The student is being charged with a felony count of written threats to kill or do bodily harm, said Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, chief communications and community engagement officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. For the past several days, Miami-Dade Schools police have been investigating threats made against several schools across the county, mostly on so...
The rabbi of a Texas synagogue that was the scene of a hostage stand-off recounted Monday how he threw a chair at the gunman, allowing those being held to escape.
During the "last hour" of the 10-hour ordeal Saturday their captor "wasn't getting what he wanted," Charlie Cytron-Walker, rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in the small town of Colleyville, near Dallas, told CBS.
"It didn't look good. It didn't sound good," he said.
"It was terrifying," he added, his voice still marked by emotion. "When I saw an opportunity where he wasn't in a good position, I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were ready to go."
The exit wasn't far away from them, he said.
"I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door, and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired."
The FBI has identified their captor as a British national named Malik Faisal Akram, 44.
Including the rabbi, Akram took four people hostage Saturday in the synagogue in what President Joe Biden has described as an "act of terror."
He appears to have been demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced in 2010 by a New York federal court to 86 years in prison on terrorism charges.
One of the hostages was released after several hours of negotiations, while the other three were freed by evening, all safe and sound.
But Akram died after a police intervention involving gunfire. Details have not yet been released, and it is not clear if he killed himself or was killed by law enforcement.
Cytron-Walker explained that he has received security training, including from the police, on how to react in active shooter situations.
"They really teach you in those moments that when your life is threatened, you need to do whatever you can to get to safety. You need to do whatever you can to get out," he said.
He added that religious leadership training also conveyed "the idea of being a calm, non-anxious presence ... I did the best I could to do that throughout the standoff."
Akram had reportedly initially knocked on the door of the synagogue, and the rabbi offered him a cup of tea.
The service was being livestreamed on Facebook when it was interrupted, and some audio of the negotiations between Akram and law enforcement could be heard.
In it, Akram describes the moment he entered the synagogue.
"They gave me a cup of tea," he said, according to Yhe New York Times. "So I do feel bad."
Cytron-Walker said the tea presented "an opportunity for me to talk with him."
"I didn't hear anything suspicious," he said.
But during prayer, as he turned his back on Akram to face towards Jerusalem, "I heard a click... It was his gun."
© 2022 AFP
Trump associate George Nader pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to defraud the US government: report
One of Donald Trump's allies pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.
"George Nader, an American adviser to the government of the United Arab Emirates, convicted sex offender, and frequent visitor to the White House during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, has pleaded guilty for his role in helping the UAE pump millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions into the U.S. political system during the 2016 presidential election," Matthew Cole reported for The Intercept.
The guilty plea has not been previously reported but was disclosed in a December sentencing memo in which prosecutors sought a five yer sentence.
"Nader’s guilty plea opens a new window into the efforts of the United Arab Emirates and its de facto ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and shape subsequent U.S. policy in the Gulf," The Intercept reported. "Prosecutors have alleged that Nader took his instructions from the UAE crown prince and that he regularly updated MBZ on his progress as he sought to get close to Clinton."
Scoop: \n\nLast year, UAE adviser George Nader quietly plead guilty to pumping $3.5M for Gulf Crown Prince MBZ into Clinton's 2016 campaign while also working the Trump team for UAEhttps://interc.pt/3Fz7nWM— Matthew Cole (@Matthew Cole) 1642440560
Republicans who pushed fake Electoral College documents in 2020 need to face 'criminal prosecution': attorney
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been doing a great deal of reporting on MAGA Republicans who, after the 2020 presidential election, circulated fake “Electoral College” documents in states that Joe Biden won and falsely claimed, on those documents, that Donald Trump won the states in question. In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on January 17, attorney Philip Rotner argues that those fake electors deserve to face criminal prosecution in federal court.
Rotner isn’t the only one making that argument. During a January 13 appearance on Maddow’s show, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel — who is part of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration — told the host, “Under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense.”
But while Nessel was mainly talking about Michigan during that January 13 conversation with Maddow, Rotner points out that MAGA Republicans circulated fake Electoral College documents in multiple states.
“While the story of phony electoral certificates submitted to Congress by Republican officials in five states as part of a failed attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election has caught on in a big way over the last week, it isn’t new,” Rotner explains. “The phony certificates were submitted nearly a year ago, and as early as March 2, 2021, American Oversight published the documents themselves after obtaining them through the Freedom of Information Act.”
Rotner adds, “Actually, there weren’t just five states in which, despite Biden having won there, Republican pseudo-electors submitted Electoral College certificates in support of Trump. There were seven. The Republicans in two of those states, however, hedged their bets.”
The two states where Trump supporters “hedged their bets,” Rotner notes, were New Mexico and Pennsylvania. The other five — the ones Maddow specifically discussed on her show —were Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and, of course, Michigan.
“The submissions from (New Mexico and Pennsylvania) deserve the benefit of the doubt,” Rotner writes. “They can and should be read as contingent, belt-and-suspenders backup plans to make sure that Trump electors were identified in the event, however unlikely, that the courts reversed the election results in their states. Not so the other five states. The phony Trump electors from each of the other five states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin — certified that they were, in fact, the ‘duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States of America’ from their respective states. Those representations were lies.”
Rotner continues, “Biden, not Trump, had won the elections in each of those states. In each of those states, Biden’s victory had been certified by the officials given clear statutory authority to do so…. In short, the individuals who signed the documents certifying that they were the ‘duly elected and qualified’ electors from their states were not. Their certificates were fraudulent, full stop. No doubt or ambiguity about it.”
According to attorney Rotner, those “phony GOP state certifications” were “not just deplorable political acts of subversion — they are criminal acts.”
“The signing and transmission of the phony certificates were also stand-alone crimes in and of themselves, committed in broad daylight and easily prosecuted,” Rotner writes. “State and federal law enforcement should have been all over this for almost a year now. Worse, even for those inclined to think ‘better late than never,’ it’s still not clear that they are on it now…. The real action here is — or should be — at the federal level. These phony certifications were not isolated, one-off events. They were highly coordinated.”