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Islamic State group says it smuggled bomb onto downed Russian plane

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The Islamic State group said Wednesday it had smuggled a bomb on board a Russian airliner that went down last month, after discovering a “way to compromise the security” at an Egyptian airport.

In its online magazine Dabiq, the group published what it said were pictures of the explosive, apparently contained in a soda can, and of passports obtained by its fighters that had belonged to the dead passengers.

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The magazine said IS had initially planned to down a plane belonging to a country from the US-led coalition targeting militants in Iraq and Syria.

The militants decided to instead target the Russian plane departing the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after Moscow began an air campaign in Syria in late September, the magazine said.

All 224 people on board the Saint Petersburg-bound Airbus died when it went down in the Sinai Peninsula on October 31.

“After having discovered a way to compromise the security at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport and resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against the Islamic State, the target was changed to a Russian plane,” an article in the English-language magazine said.

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“A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane,” it said.

Russia on Tuesday said a bomb had brought down the plane and vowed to hunt down the perpetrators, confirming suspicions raised earlier by Britain and the United States.

Egypt says a team investigating the disaster has not yet found the cause.

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Moscow began air strikes in Syria in September against what it said were “terrorist” targets including IS jihadists. Syria’s opposition has accused Moscow of seeking to bolster President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and targeting anti-regime rebels.

IS commands the loyalty of militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula who have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.


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Trump’s anti-corruption defense blown away by State Department official in newly released testimony

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President Donald Trump's contention that his efforts to get dirt on the family of former Vice President Joe Biden were part of an anti-corruption focus was undermined by testimony that was released by Congress on Monday.

The testimony was released by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the acting chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, both advisors to Ambassador Kurt Volker on Ukraine policy, testified before the Committees about concerns they had with efforts to press Ukraine into announcing specific investigations which would help President Trump politically," the three chairpeople said in a joint statement. "Ms. Croft also testified that Ukrainian officials approached her quietly about the hold on security assistance in the July or August timeframe, before the hold had been made public.”

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Volker’s deputy told Congress Ukrainians found out Trump froze their military aid ‘very early on’ — before the public knew: report

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According to transcripts released on Monday by House investigators, Catherine Croft, a special adviser for Ukraine and deputy to Kurt Volker, testified that Ukrainian officials became aware of President Donald Trump's decision to freeze military aide appropriated by Congress "very early on" — and long before the public became aware of the delay.

Croft, according to the transcript, told the House that Ukrainian officials "approached me quietly and in confidence to ask me about an [Office of Management and Budget] hold on Ukraine security assistance," and that she was taken aback by how quickly they became aware of it.

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2020 Election

Deval Patrick considering a last-minute presidential bid: report

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Yet another Democrat is considering a late entry into the 2020 presidential campaign.

"Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts has told Democratic officials that he is considering making a last-minute entry into the 2020 presidential race, according to two Democrats with knowledge of the conversations, the latest evidence of how unsettled the party’s presidential primary is less than three months before the Iowa caucuses," The New York Times reported Monday.

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