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Alabama woman joins Islamic State in Syria: reports

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A 20-year-old woman from a Birmingham, Alabama, suburb has left the United States to join the Islamic State militant group in Syria, local broadcaster WIAT reported on Monday.

The report came as U.S. authorities said they have charged six young Somali-American men from Minnesota with planning to join the fighters who have declared an Islamic Caliphate on land they have seized in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

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Western countries have become increasingly worried about the numbers of citizens signing up with jihadi groups, fearing they could return to launch attacks at home.

Hoda Muthana made contact with militants through social media and had been distancing herself from other Muslims in Hoover for more a year before leaving, said family spokesman Hassan Shibly according to WIAT.

Shibly, who is also an attorney and chief executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida, said the woman’s family was devastated and has been working with authorities since she left, WIAT reported.

“They have been going through unimaginable pain and hardship for the past few months,” he told reporters on Monday at a press conference broadcast by WIAT.

Reuters could not independently verify the report. The news of Muthana’s departure was first reported by BuzzFeed on Friday.

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Watch this video report posted online by WIAT-TV:

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco)

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Bill Barr denies giving the order to gas protesters for Trump photo-op

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America's top law enforcement office on Friday denied giving the highly-controversial order to gas protesters prior to a photo-op with President Donald Trump holding a Bible.

"Attorney General William Barr says law enforcement officers were already moving to push back protesters from a park in front of the White House when he arrived there Monday evening, and he says he did not give a command to disperse the crowd, though he supported the decision," The Associated Press reports.

"Barr’s comments in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday were his most detailed explanation yet of what unfolded outside the White House earlier this week. They come after the White House and others said repeatedly that the attorney general ordered officers to clear the park," the AP reported. "Shortly after officers aggressively pushed back demonstrators, President Donald Trump — accompanied by Barr, Pentagon leaders and other top advisers — walked through Lafayette Park to pose for a photo at a nearby church that had been damaged during the protests."

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Steve Schmidt breaks down why Joe Biden should be an ‘easy’ choice for moderate Republicans

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On MSNBC Friday, former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt criticized Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) claim that she was struggling over whether to support the president — and laid out why she should unequivocally decide she doesn't.

"We saw the president direct violence against peaceful protesters this week, and seen the president lie to the country nearly 20,000 times," said Schmidt. "We've seen the president divide the country and incite violence. And we've seen a level of ineptitude in this historic pandemic that defied description, but included standing in front of the nation when tens of thousands are dead, talking about his ratings or telling the American people that it is a good idea to ingest or household disinfectants. We've seen a president preside over the shattering of an economy. We have seen a president race-bait, demean, disgrace his office, to desecrate the bonds of affection that exist between us as Americans."

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Jeb Bush wonders why Republicans are not ‘stepping up’ to condemn racism

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) wondered on Friday why more Republicans were not standing publicly against racism.

"I have said it before and I will say it again now: the GOP must not tolerate racism. Of any kind. At any time," his son, George P. Bush, the Texas Land Commissioner posted on Twitter.

He urged local GOP officials in Texas to resign for sharing racist posts on Facebook.

Jeb Bush praised the post.

"Proud of my son," he posted on Twitter.

"Are other Republican elected officials stepping up?" he wondered.

https://twitter.com/JebBush/status/1269057568015605761

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