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Uber Driver Accused of Rape to India’s Shame

Uber Driver Accused of Rape to India’s Shame

Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images(NEW DELHI, India) -- Two years after an Indian woman was gang raped while riding a bus, causing international outrage and sparking stricter penalties for perpetrators, a male taxi driver was arrested Monday on suspicion of raping a 27-year-old female passenger.While some people continue to question India’s responsibility to protect its female citizens, others are now pointing fingers at Uber, the U.S. company for whom the driver, 32, was working.Funded by major venture capital funds, including Google Ventures, and valued at $40 billion, Uber has received fierce criticism in several countries where established taxi companies say it is not operating legitimately.In Germany, for example, a court ruling banned the mobile app service, saying it violates the Passenger Transportation Act because drivers do not have correct permits, are not properly insured and are not subject to checks.Uber’s CEO issued a statement shortly after news reports of the alleged crime. “What happened over the week-end in New Delhi is horrific,” Travis Kalanick wrote in a written statement. “Our entire team’s hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.”The company says it has provided Indian police with the driver’s name, age, photo, driver license detail, bank verified address, vehicle license, registration, insurance, state issued-driver permit, and trip details, including route and pick-up, drop-off locations. The suspect was arrested Sunday, 100 miles from the capital.He appeared in court Monday and was remanded in custody for three days. Shortly thereafter, transport official Satish Mathur announced Uber was banned from operating in the capital, effective immediately.“Safety is our number one priority,” an Uber spokesperson said in a written statement, “and in India, Uber is exclusively partners with registered for-hire drivers who have undergone the commercial licensing process, hold government issued-IDs, state-issued permits and carry full commercial insurance.”But a statement from the Delhi Transport Department said the driver only had an India-wide permit, not a Delhi permit.Quartz India reported that while Uber has a multistep screening process where a driver’s records are checked, drivers themselves say they do not go through a hiring process nor do they receive training.After the gang rape in 2012, the Indian government rushed through new legislation, doubling prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women.Srishti Ahuja, 22, who works in fashion in New Delhi, told ABC News there has been no positive change since the 2012 rape case and says she is still scared to walk alone in the streets."We are not satisfied with today's decision to ban Uber," said Ahuja, "All we want is for mentalities to change, and for men to understand that rape is not OK.""There should be better checks on drivers," she said, in reference to reports that the alleged rapist had been charged for rape before and was released.Meanwhile, dozens staged a protest Monday in Delhi over the new case of alleged rape, saying not enough had been done for the safety of women since the election of a new government six months ago.A public debate on what to do about violence against women has been taking place on Twitter, now with the hashtag #delhishamedagain. Many, for example, are saying they would like CCTV to be installed in buses. Aam Aadmi, a center-left party, has published a 10-point agenda on women’s security on its Twitter account.

RT @DelhiDialogue: Here's AAP's 10 point agenda on women's security. #AAP4WomenSecurity pic.twitter.com/DN6HwMRhij

— Aam Aadmi Party (@AamAadmiParty) December 8, 2014

This past month, two videos went viral featuring two sisters beating up men they said sexually assaulted them. A total of 1,221 rape cases have been reported since the election of Narendra Modi, according to a Tweet on the official Indian National Congress Party account.

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Aid Group Founder Doesn’t Blame US in Death of South African Al-Qaeda Hostage

Aid Group Founder Doesn’t Blame US in Death of South African Al-Qaeda Hostage

Gift of Givers(NEW YORK) -- The founder of the aid group that employed Pierre Korkie, the South African hostage murdered by al Qaeda fighters alongside American Luke Somers during a failed rescue attempt this weekend, said he doesn’t blame the U.S. -- even though Korkie was expected to be freed the very next day.“When I heard that Pierre was dead, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was a mistake,” Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman told ABC News Saturday. “When we faced reality and it came to that the U.S. raid took place and we had to accept that Pierre had now passed on…No, I can’t be upset with the United States because the U.S. was acting in their own interest. They were acting in the interest of their own citizen. Any government would do that.”Sooliman founded the charity that Korkie was working for in Yemen before he was captured, called Gift of the Givers. He had been working to free Korkie alongside his wife, Yolande Korkie, who herself had been released from Al Qaeda captivity earlier this year.Sooliman said that hours after Korkie’s death, Yolande sent a message to one of his workers, thanking them for the work his organization had done with the tribal leaders and saying she didn’t blame anyone for what happened.Korkie and Somers were fatally shot early Saturday morning local time as a team of more than 40 American commandos were attempting to rescue the pair. According to U.S. officials, the special operations team was spotted by the al Qaeda terrorists holding Korkie and Somers and engaged in a firefight. At some point, one of the terrorists ran inside the compound where the hostages were being held and shot them both. Both men were alive when the American commandos found them, but died shortly after.“There was zero possibility that the hostages were victims of crossfire,” a military official said Saturday. “This was an execution.”The raid went down within hours of when Sooliman said Korkie was to be released by al Qaeda.With the help of tribal leaders near the village of Abyan, Sooliman’s team had managed to convince Pierre’s captors to lower their ransom demand from $3 million to $700,000, and then finally to $200,000 as a “facilitation fee” and compensation for AQAP fighters killed in a November drone strike, to be paid upon Korkie’s release.“We had spoken to the tribal leaders in Abyan, and they had made arrangements to meet al Qaeda yesterday [Friday] morning,” said Sooliman. “We informed the ambassador of South Africa and Saudi Arabia that he had to have a passport ready for Pierre to get him out of the country, and that he also needed to arrange an exit visa, because Pierre was an employee in Yemen.”Once Korkie was freed, Sooliman’s team would have assessed his medical state, and then flown him either from Abyan to Istanbul, from Yemen’s capital Sanaa to Dubai, or ideally directly to South Africa depending on his medical needs. Sooliman had even told Yolande Korkie that her husband would be home for Christmas.“It’s gonna be very good for you and your family, we’re going to have Pierre home for Christmas,” Sooliman said he told Yolande Korkie. “And you can use the whole Christmas period to spend time and bond with Pierre and your children and you’re going to have a lovely time somewhere quiet for Christmas.”While Sooliman told ABC that Yolande Korkie was devastated by the news of her husband’s death, he maintained that he was not upset at the U.S. over its unsuccessful rescue attempt.“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and unfortunately in this case it happened that both the American and Pierre were lost. At the end of the day, the American is also a human being…So we feel sorry for both families and on both sides.”

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Abu Dhabi Mall Murder Suspect Carried Out ‘Personal Terrorist Attack’

Abu Dhabi Mall Murder Suspect Carried Out ‘Personal Terrorist Attack’

Footprints Recruiting(ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates) — The woman suspected of stabbing an American teacher to death in a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi carried out a "personal terrorist attack" after she was inspired by jihadist websites where she also learned how to make a homemade bomb, the official United Arab Emirates news agency reports.The woman, identified by police to ABC News as Dalal al Hashemi, "selected her victims randomly" and targeted anyone who looked foreign, a security source told the WAM news agency. The source added that she had no connection to any terrorist groups.After stabbing Ibolya Ryan in the Reem Island Boutiq mall bathroom, police say Hasehmi, a 38-year-old Emirati citizen of Yemeni origin, drove across town to the home of an Egyptian-American doctor. She entered his apartment building pulling a black suitcase and left a homemade explosive device outside his door made of gas canisters and nails."The investigations show that the accused has recently logged into some terrorist websites through which she acquired the terrorism ideology and learnt how to manufacture explosives," the source told WAM. "After scrutiny, the seized materials used in manufacturing were shown to be primitive.""I'm totally horrified by what happened," Ryan's ex-husband Paul told CNN.He recently arrived in Abu Dhabi with the couple's 13-year-old daughter from Vienna to care for their 11-year-old twin boys who had been living with their mother.Ryan, 47, had been teaching in the UAE for more than a year and was also mentoring other teachers, her family said in a statement Saturday. She will be buried in Romania, where she was born and raised.Police released surveillance video from the mall that shows the suspect entering a women’s bathroom on Monday afternoon. An hour and a half later, she runs out and makes her escape through the mall parking lot.Video showed the bathroom covered in blood and the alleged murder weapon – a large kitchen knife – lying on the floor. Ryan later died of her stab wound.On Thursday, police released a second video showing the woman they identify as Hashemi entering the apartment building of the doctor with a black suitcase and leaving behind what appears to be a basic explosive device. The doctor's son discovered the bomb, authorities say, and the police managed to defuse it before it went off.With evidence and testimony from the two scenes, police surrounded Hasehmi’s home in the Khalifa City B part of town. They stormed in, arresting Hashemi and others in the house. Police say they also found her white SUV with blood on the steering wheel, the black suitcase that she used to carry the bomb and more bomb-making materials, indicating more potential attacks.On Sunday, a candlelight vigil was held on an Abu Dhabi beach for Ryan, as fellow westerners expressed their shock that such an attack could happen in such a safe country where so many expatriates live.In October, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a warning to U.S. citizens about an anonymous web posting that urged attacks against American teachers and schools in the region, but noted no specific threats to the UAE.

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Rome’s Mayor Offered Police Protection After Mafia Bust

Rome’s Mayor Offered Police Protection After Mafia Bust

Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images(ROME) -- Rome's mayor may soon get armed guards after wiretaps reveal the local mob wants him out. Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino, famed for cycling to work, has been urged by police to accept an armed limo escort after a mafia bust revealed local mobsters planned to push him out of office.This week, police arrested 37 suspected members of the Rome underworld and politicians. Police say they were all part of a system to corrupt public bids for refugee centers, Roma camps, and construction projects.

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Egyptian Officials Say Young People Need Permit to Travel to Turkey

Egyptian Officials Say Young People Need Permit to Travel to Turkey

iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Egyptian travel authorities say young men and women wishing to go to Turkey must have a special permit, part of an effort to curtail recruitment to extremist groups. The new regulations stipulate that those ages 18-40 must receive special clearance before flying to Turkey. Egyptian officials say they have already stopped more than 200 people from traveling based on concerns they would join Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq. The decision follows a recent announcement by Turkey's foreign ministry that more than 7,000 suspected foreign fighters have been barred from entering Turkey since 2011.     Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Typhoon Hagupit Downs Power Lines, Damages Homes in Philippines

Typhoon Hagupit Downs Power Lines, Damages Homes in Philippines

MARLON TANO/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- Lots of damage and two deaths have been reported as the powerful typhoon Hagupit batters the Philippines.

The winds lashed the coastline, bending trees, and knocking down powerlines. Holly Frew, in Manila with the group CARE, noted seeing, "Lots of downed power lines, no electricity, fallen trees, damage to some of the houses. There's some houses that've been washed out along with coastal areas, and significant flooding."Frew says aid workers are having a hard time reaching communities that were the first to be hit by the storm."The Philippines is an archipelago of islands which in times of disaster, like these kinds of storms, access to the people can be very difficult," Frew said.

It was a little over a year ago that Typhoon Haiyan flattened parts of the Philippines, killing thousands.

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American Killed in Abu Dhabi Targeted for Being Teacher, Family Says

American Killed in Abu Dhabi Targeted for Being Teacher, Family Says

Footprints Recruiting(NEW YORK) -- The family of an American woman fatally stabbed at an Abu Dhabi shopping mall believes she was targeted because she was a teacher.

Ibolya Ryan, who was the mother of 11-year-old twin boys and a 13-year-old daughter, had been teaching in the United Arab Emirates for more than a year and was also mentoring other teachers.

"Ibi was a vivacious and gracious person. She was a loving mother who dedicated her career to helping children all over the world as a Special Education teacher. She will be deeply missed," the Ryan family said in a statement released today.

"As a family, we are wounded and reeling, but are focusing on our primary concern -- to ensure the well being of her three children, who are mourning for their mother," the family said.

The family is working with Ryan's employer, Footprints Recruiting, to try to raise money to help the children get home and to provide a foundation for their future education.

Ryan, who is of Hungarian descent but was born and raised in neighboring Romania, and lived in Colorado, will be buried in Romania, where she was born and raised, the family said.

Abu Dhabi police told ABC News that the suspect accused of stabbing Ryan to death was not working alone.

The suspect was identified as Dalal al Hashemi, a 38 year-old UAE citizen of Yemeni origin, police said. She was arrested Thursday in connection with the teacher's murder and is also accused of planting a bomb in front of an Egyptian-American doctor's home.

Police said they do not believe Hashemi, 38, was a so-called "lone wolf." Authorities told ABC News that other people were arrested at Hashemi's house, but their connection to the attack was not yet known.

Her home was described as a "base of operations," but it was not clear what groups -- if any -- she may have been connected to.

The motive for the stabbing wasn't immediately known, but the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a warning on Oct. 29 to U.S. citizens about an anonymous web posting that urged attacks against American teachers, but noted no specific threats.

The surveillance cameras' eerie images show the culprit entering the mall on Dec. 1 as well as the crime scene. In the video, the weapon shown appears to be a large kitchen knife. The surveillance video ends with onlookers pointing at the suspect and trying to stop the person, who fled to an elevator and left the mall.

Abu Dhabi police also released video showing what they claimed was a bomb at the home of an Egyptian American doctor, who was identified only the initials M.H. and his age, 46.

One of the doctor's three children noticed the strange object in front of their door, and the family called a security guard to investigate. The guard informed police, authorities said.

The device consisted of "small gas cylinders, a lighter, glue, and nails to cause maximum injuries when detonated," a police statement said.

The security guard said a woman wearing gloves and an abayah had come to the house minutes before the incident, dragging a black suitcase, authorities said. She went to the floor where the doctor's family lives and then quickly left the building, he said.

The doctor also said he had seen a woman wearing an abayah at his home a few days earlier, authorities said.

Authorities also released video of a woman they said was the suspect in Ryan's stabbing. The suspect confessed to the crimes, they said.

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How Navy SEALs Tried Rescuing Al Qaeda Hostage Luke Somers

How Navy SEALs Tried Rescuing Al Qaeda Hostage Luke Somers

Freedom for Kidnapped Journalist Luke Somers Facebook Page (SANA'A, Yemen) -- In the dead of night, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs landed a little more than six miles away from a compound in the Shabwah province of Yemen where U.S. officials believed an affiliate of al-Qaeda was holding American journalist Luke Somers captive.About 110 yards away, after making their way through the rugged terrain on foot, the team of 40 was spotted and al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters began firing wildly at the SEALs, according to a military official. One of the AQAP fighters ran into the compound as the firefight continued outside, then quickly came back out.When the SEALs secured and entered the compound, they found Somers, 33, and another captive, South African Pierre Korkie, had been shot."There is zero possibility that the hostages were victims of cross fire," a military official told ABC News. "This was an execution."The rescue operation for Somers was the second in the last two weeks, according to U.S. officials, who moved quickly Friday as a deadline by the terrorists to execute him neared. President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel approved it mid-morning Friday."The time was short to plan the operation, but it was thorough, and balanced the risks to the special operations forces," the official said.The 40 SEALs used Air Force CV-22s to land a distance from the compound about 1 a.m. local time Saturday, according to a senior defense official. An AQAP fighter apparently spotted them while relieving himself outside, a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the operation told ABC News, beginning a firefight that lasted about 10 minutes.When the SEALs secured the compound, they found Somers and Korkie, 56, inside. They tried transporting them to the USS Makin Island, but one of the men died en route and the other died on the operating table, according to Pentagon officials. The entire operation took 30 minutes.No American troops were injured in the raid, but six AQAP fighters were killed, U.S. officials said. The operation was pushed ahead after AQAP posted a video online late Wednesday, saying they were going to kill Somers in three days if their demands -- unspecified in the video -- were not met.No Yemenis were involved in the raid, but the Yemeni government was informed ahead of time.Somers, who was born in Britain but has American citizenship, was working as a translator for the National Dialogue Conference when he was kidnapped last September.

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How Navy SEALs Tried Rescuing Al Qaeda Hostage Luke Somers

How Navy SEALs Tried Rescuing Al Qaeda Hostage Luke Somers

Freedom for Kidnapped Journalist Luke Somers Facebook Page (SANA'A, Yemen) -- In the dead of night, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs landed a little more than six miles away from a compound in the Shabwah province of Yemen where U.S. officials believed an affiliate of al-Qaeda was holding American journalist Luke Somers captive.About 110 yards away, after making their way through the rugged terrain on foot, the team of 40 was spotted and al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters began firing wildly at the SEALs, according to a military official. One of the AQAP fighters ran into the compound as the firefight continued outside, then quickly came back out.When the SEALs secured and entered the compound, they found Somers, 33, and another captive, South African Pierre Korkie, had been shot."There is zero possibility that the hostages were victims of cross fire," a military official told ABC News. "This was an execution."The rescue operation for Somers was the second in the last two weeks, according to U.S. officials, who moved quickly Friday as a deadline by the terrorists to execute him neared. President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel approved it mid-morning Friday."The time was short to plan the operation, but it was thorough, and balanced the risks to the special operations forces," the official said.The 40 SEALs used Air Force CV-22s to land a distance from the compound about 1 a.m. local time Saturday, according to a senior defense official. An AQAP fighter apparently spotted them while relieving himself outside, a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the operation told ABC News, beginning a firefight that lasted about 10 minutes.When the SEALs secured the compound, they found Somers and Korkie, 56, inside. They tried transporting them to the USS Makin Island, but one of the men died en route and the other died on the operating table, according to Pentagon officials. The entire operation took 30 minutes.No American troops were injured in the raid, but six AQAP fighters were killed, U.S. officials said. The operation was pushed ahead after AQAP posted a video online late Wednesday, saying they were going to kill Somers in three days if their demands -- unspecified in the video -- were not met.No Yemenis were involved in the raid, but the Yemeni government was informed ahead of time.Somers, who was born in Britain but has American citizenship, was working as a translator for the National Dialogue Conference when he was kidnapped last September.

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Pope: Christians Being ‘Driven Out of the Middle East’

Pope: Christians Being ‘Driven Out of the Middle East’

gjohnstonphoto/iStock/Thinkstock(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Francis released a video message to Iraqi Christians on Saturday, thanking them for "bearing witness" to the suffering caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."When I returned from my visit to Turkey," the pope said, "I said that Christians are being driven out of the Middle East and undergoing great suffering."

The message comes as thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by the spread of ISIS."It seems like they do not want the presence Christians in these places, but you are there giving witness to Christ," the pope closed.

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ISIS Gains Ground Against Syrian Government

ISIS Gains Ground Against Syrian Government

izustun/iStock/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Militant group ISIS is gaining ground in their fight against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.  Activists say that the Islamic State has captured a village next to an airbase in eastern Syria in an attempt to curtail the military's airforce. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the extremist militants have already killed at least 30 Syrian soldiers in efforts to overrun the base. More than two dozen Islamic State fighters were also killed. The attack on the base follows remarks by Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad that he would not step down amid increasing pressure from militant groups seeking his ouster. Asaad also called the US-led airstrikes in Syria an "illegal intervention" that have little effect on the Islamic State and other hardline groups.

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Typhoon Hagupit Makes Landfall in Philippines

Typhoon Hagupit Makes Landfall in Philippines

wcphoto12/iStock/Thinkstock(TACLOBAN, Philippines) –- The powerful Typhoon Hagupit has made landfall in the Philippines. The Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 140 miles per hour is moving slowly across the island nation, after making landfall on Saturday near the eastern city of Tacloban. Cecil Laguardia from Christian humanitarian organization World Vision is on the island of Tacloban, and said people have been hiding in shelters for days.“The howling is almost like the siren of a ship leaving, but double that or triple that. It's very loud, it's nonstop and it's pitch black. You cannot see anything,” she said. The storm comes almost one year after super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country, leaving almost 7 thousand people dead and 4 million homeless.

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Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in Military Operation in Pakistan

Al-Qaeda Leader Killed in Military Operation in Pakistan

zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) -- An al-Qaeda leader wanted by the U.S. government for plots against the New York City subway system was killed in a military operation on Saturday.A military official confirmed to ABC News that Adnan Shukarijuma was killed in South Waziristan. The Pakistani military led the operation.Shukarijuma was on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists. He had allegedly been involved in terrorist plots to attack targets in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. He is believed to have served as one of the leaders of al-Qaeda's external operations program.The FBI had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that led to the capture of Shukarijuma.

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American Hostage Luke Somers Killed in US Rescue Attempt

American Hostage Luke Somers Killed in US Rescue Attempt

Freedom for Kidnapped Journalist Luke Somers Facebook Page(WASHINGTON) -- American journalist Luke Somers was killed Friday during a desperate attempt by U.S. commandos to free him from al Qaeda in Yemen - a mission that failed in part because American forces were spotted prematurely by a militant who was apparently relieving himself, according to a counter-terrorism official with knowledge of the operation.Somers and Pierra Korkie, a South African hostage, were "executed" by their captors before the American team could get to them, another defense official said."The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of Luke Somers at the hands of al Qaeda terrorists during a rescue operation conducted by U.S. forces in Yemen," President Obama said. "Earlier this week, a video released by his terrorist captors announced that Luke would be killed within 72 hours. Other information also indicated Luke's life was in imminent danger. Based on this assessment, and as soon as there was reliable intelligence and an operational plan, I authorized a rescue attempt yesterday.""On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to Luke's family and to his loved ones," the President said.Somers, 33, appeared late Wednesday in a hostage video put online by AQAP in which the terror group said they were going to kill him in three days if their demands -- unspecified in the video -- were not met. Days before that, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs, along with Yemeni commandos, had attempted to rescue Somers in a raid similar to Friday's, but he had been moved to another location.The U.S. government found Somers again, however, and launched the second rescue attempt at 1 a.m. local time Saturday, a senior administration official told ABC News.The special operations team infiltrated first by Osprey aircraft and then on foot, a defense official said.But working in difficult, mountainous terrain, the 40-man team was met with gunfire, according to the administration official. The counter-terrorism official who spoke to ABC News said the commandos were spotted as they were setting up a perimeter when one of the al Qaeda fighters came outside, apparently to relieve himself. The official said Somers was found at a site where the U.S. suspects hostages have been held previously."There is zero possibility that the hostages were victims of cross fire," a military official said. "This was an execution."No American warfighters were injured in the raid, but six AQAP fighters were killed, officials said.The entire operation took 30 minutes, according to the administration official. Yemen approved and cooperated with the operation, but Yemeni forces weren't involved in the attempted rescue."AQAP knows how to hate, they know how to murder, and now they have robbed a family of an idealistic young photojournalist who went to Yemen to practice his calling and document the lives of ordinary Yemenis," Secretary of State John Kerry said.Somers' sister Lucy posted a video online late Friday that pleaded for his release."I am Lucy Somers, Luke Somers is my older brother. Luke is a gentle and sensitive person, he is a romantic and always believes the best in people," she said. "I have been comforted by all the messages of love and support from the Yemeni people. And I would like to add my voice to theirs in asking for mercy. Your way of life is what Luke loved. Please let him live."Somers, who was born in Britain but has American citizenship, was working as a translator for the National Dialogue Conference when he was kidnapped last September. He wasn’t seen publicly until the hostage video was released by AQAP.“I’m looking for any help that can get me out of this situation,” Somers said in the video. “I’m certain that my life is in danger. So as I sit here now, I ask if anything can be done, please let it be done. Thank you very much.”In their own video the next day, Somers' mother and brother pleaded for his release, asking his captors to show “mercy.”“He is all that we have,” Somers’ mother, Paula, said. “Luke, if you are able to hear or see us, please know that we are doing everything possible to help you.”Somers’ brother Jordan said in the video that the family was not aware of the American-led special military operation on Nov. 25 to try and rescue his brother, during which SEALs freed eight Yemeni, Saudi and Ethiopian hostages but failed to find Somers.

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Canadian Teen Faces Terrorism Charge

Canadian Teen Faces Terrorism Charge

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- A 15-year-old Canadian boy appeared in court in Toronto Friday on terrorism charges.  The teen was originally arrested for allegedly robbing a convenience store.

His father called police when he found the money, telling officers he feared his son had become radicalized.

Investigators found Jihadist videos on the his laptop, and the boy allegedly told police he wanted to use the money to buy a plane ticket and join Islamist fighters aboard.

He is now charged with committing an offense for the benefit of a terrorist group, along with the robbery charge.

He is the youngest Canadian to ever face such charges.

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The Philippines Braces for Typhoon Hagupit

The Philippines Braces for Typhoon Hagupit

Charism SAYAT/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- The Philippines is bracing for the powerful Typhoon Hagupit.

With winds gusting over 140 miles an hour, the typhoon is expected to hit Saturday near the eastern city of Taclopan, where Typhoon Haiyan killed thousands a year ago.

In preparation, flights have been cancelled, ports have been closed, and thousands of people are relocating.

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Prince William to Meet with President Obama at the Oval Office

Prince William to Meet with President Obama at the Oval Office

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- During Prince William and Duchess Kate's visit to New York next week, William will make a brief stop in Washington, D.C.

The White House says, on Monday, William will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office.

While this will be Prince William's first visit to Washington, he has met President Obama twice before. Aides say there's a "lot of enthusiasm here."While William stops by Washington, Kate will remain in New York.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

White House: We Didn’t Delay Secret Somers Rescue Operation

White House: We Didn’t Delay Secret Somers Rescue Operation

Freedom for Kidnapped Journalist Luke Somers Facebook Page(WASHINGTON) -- The White House doubled down Friday to bat back the idea that dithering at the highest levels delayed an ultimately unsuccessful military operation to rescue American al Qaeda hostage Luke Somers in Yemen last week.

“There are still some significant limits to what I can say about what is still a classified operation, but I would reject in the strongest possible terms that there was any delay at the White House in approving his mission,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

An administration official told ABC News Thursday that the Pentagon had received a concept of operations, or “conop,” from the military’s highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) midday Friday and sent it on to the White House that night -- at the request of Obama aides there, one senior official said.

A team of White House advisors went over the plan for the next two days, presenting it to the President Sunday, who approved it that day, the official said.

The special operation, undertaken by the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six and involving Yemeni forces, was launched late Monday, officials said. The U.S.-led forces rescued several hostages, but Somers, their key objective, had apparently been moved earlier.

A defense official said it was possible Somers had been moved as early as Friday, the same day the White House first saw the proposed plan.

As for the two days the White House advisors had it before presenting it to the President, Earnest said the plan was going through a “rigorous” interagency process.

“There was careful consideration of the risk this operation would pose for our men and women,” Earnest said. “There was careful consideration of intelligence. There was careful consideration of the diplomatic equities involved. There are important questions raised when an operation like this takes place in a foreign country. There are important diplomatic questions that are raised when there is the potential that some of those who may be rescued are of a different nationality, citizens of another country. There are important equities raised when it comes to either killing or even capturing extremists.”

“So thinking through all those things is something that was important and that’s consistent with the way the process worked in previous administrations, and it’s not something that involves only White House personnel,” he added.

Two counter-terrorism officials with knowledge of the raid previously told ABC News that the approval process was perceived by some of those involved as having taken too long while the window for rescue was open.

Somers was seen late Wednesday in a hostage video in which a militant from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) says the U.S. government has three days to comply with the group’s demands -- unspecified in the video -- before Somers is killed.

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Thai Children Break World Record for Largest Elf Gathering

Thai Children Break World Record for Largest Elf Gathering

NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images(BANGKOK) -- More than 1,700 Thai students have officially reached Guinness World Records status for the largest gathering of Santa's little helpers.The children, ages 9 to 15, dressed in pointy ears and elf costumes at a shopping mall in the capital of Bangkok.

Fourteen children were disqualified for not wearing their plastic ears. With that, a total of 1,762 participants were involved in beating the record.

The kids held their positions for five minutes on Nov. 25th before being announced Guinness World Records winners.

The previous record of the largest gathering of Santa's elves was set at 1,110 on Nov. 9, 2013. It was achieved by Stockeld Park and Martin House Children's Hospice in the United Kingdom, according to Guinness.

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New Documentary Tells Story of American Man’s Travels in Iraq, Syria

New Documentary Tells Story of American Man’s Travels in Iraq, Syria

Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- When Matthew VanDyke set out on a “crash course in manhood” in 2007 -- a motorcycle journey that would take him through North Africa and the Middle East -- the 27-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder was at first afraid to leave his hotel room in Morocco. Four years later, he would become a foreign fighter, taking up arms with Libyan rebels to overthrow then-dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

A new documentary, Point and Shoot, tells VanDyke’s story of transformation through footage he shot himself over his years-long adventure.

VanDyke’s odyssey would take him through Iraq, where he spent time embedded with U.S. troops as a war correspondent for a Baltimore-area newspaper. While there, VanDyke said he began to feel that he was “on the wrong side of the camera.”

“I felt that I wanted to affect events, not just document events,” VanDyke said. “I felt not at place necessarily being behind the camera and just filming. Part of me wanted to be with them. When the mission is actually as one of them doing something I felt would have more of a tangible impact.”

He would soon get the opportunity to have a tangible impact on the direction of a war when the Libyan revolution broke out in 2011.

“I was talking to my friends in Libya who I had known by that time frame -- most of them for three years, one of them even for four years -- and they told me what was happening, and one of them said basically, ‘Why doesn't anyone help us?’” VanDyke recalled. “These were people I had become good friends with. Libya was my favorite country from all my travels, and I realized I couldn't just sit at home and do nothing while this was happening to people I cared about. So, I went to Libya.”

Not long after joining the rebels, VanDyke was captured by Gaddafi’s forces and endured five-and-a-half months in solitary confinement, an experience he remembers as “psychological torture.”

“That was the most difficult experience,” Van Dyke said.” [I] basically stared at the wall for about half a year, no books to read, nothing to do but pace back and forth in the cell…I basically was struck in the head and woke up in prison to the sound of men being tortured in the cell above me. After nearly six months of that, I escaped prison with other prisoners and went back to fight on the front line.”

VanDyke would stay in Libya through the end of the revolution and joined in celebrating with the rebels following Gaddafi’s overthrow.

He would later consider becoming a foreign fighter in Syria also, but decided against doing so, citing the rebels’ lack of weapons and ammunition. And while VanDyke said he could not speak to what motivates other people to become foreign fighters, he said he does not see a problem with doing so when motivated by the right reasons.

“Some people go for adventurism, some people go for war tourism, some people go because they're jihadists -- it varies greatly why people do it, and a lot of those reasons I don't agree with,” VanDyke said. “But if they have a connection to the region and the right reasons and connections on the ground, I don't really see a problem with foreign fighters.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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