AFGHANISTAN: THE SOLDIER’S RAMPAGE
-THE BIG PICTURE…The soldier is being questioned. NATO has promised to deliver justice. However…members of the Afghan Parliament say they “have run out of patience”; the Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the act was “unforgivable”; and Taliban militants have vowed revenge. What will one soldier’s massacre - which took 16 lives, including those of nine children – mean for the safety of U.S. forces? Or for the mission as a whole?
-ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE…We have obtained exclusive footage from the scene of the killings: Emotional interviews with families of the victims; a woman with the body of one of the children; people asking, “Where is the Taliban?” – and “Why did Americans killed these children? What have we done wrong?” Some of these interviews are done as ISAF helicopters circle overhead.
-TALIBAN VOWS REVENGE…U.S. forces remain on alert for backlash from the soldier’s shooting spree that killed 16 Afghans Sunday – and today the Taliban promised revenge. In a statement on its website, the Taliban attacked “the sick-minded American savages” and said it would “take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr.” The Afghan parliament has asked for a public trial for the American soldier – and President Karzai has called the act an “assassination…unforgiveable.” Some Afghans says they don’t believe a lone soldier could have made it to all three houses, over a mile apart, and then burned the bodies afterward. Nick SCHIFRIN reports from Kabul: Afghans are reacting to this in a similar way to how the U.S. reacted to the killings of its soldiers two weeks ago: increasing security against their “ally”. Part of what one official calls a “cascade of missteps” that makes many wonder whether trust can ever be rebuilt. Among many fears today, Nick notes these: That all these missteps embolden the hard-liners in Afghanistan, making the much-touted “reconciliation” that much harder; and that this incident will reverse the many positive effects of the U.S.-led surge in Kandahar.
-THE STREETS…It’s 36 degrees and snowing in Kabul today – inclement weather may be keeping a lid on protests. Other possible factors: the BBC reports an Afghan elder has said no protests would occur, provided the killer is brought to justice; and it may just be a matter of time – sometimes a few days pass before the fury shows.
-THE KILLER…Martha RADDATZ reports he is a staff sergeant, 38, who served three tours in Iraq and worked with Green Beret forces involved in missions to reach out to Afghan villagers. He has been based at Fort Lewis, near Seattle, almost his entire career and has now obtained a lawyer, refusing to talk. Martha also reports the soldier wore night vision goggles during the rampage.
A DIFFERENT AFGHAN TRAGEDY
Afghan authorities say an avalanche struck two villages in a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan and 45 people are feared trapped in the snow. The avalanche struck Monday morning, but so far no rescue team has been able to get to the area.
SYRIA: REPORTS OF A MASSACRE
Activists claim pro-government gunmen have killed more than a dozen people in Homs. Syria’s state media confirmed the deaths, but blamed “armed terrorists.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 12 people were killed Sunday night while the Local Coordination Committees said 45 were “murdered.” Both groups said the dead included children. One activist in Homs, Hadi Abdallah, told AFP the bodies of 26 children and 21 women were found in two neighborhoods of the city. Extremely graphic pictures posted online show the bodies of five children who were apparently tortured. Some less objectionable material – allegedly of the same event.
-HILLARY CLINTON TO U.N….Luis MARTINEZ reports Secretary of State Clinton will visit the U.N. Security Council today to participate in a ministerial level discussion of the ramifications of the “Arab Spring” uprisings. She’ll be joined by her British, French and Russian counterparts. Russia’s influence on Syria will probably be a key topic of discussion – as will a new Security Council resolution on Syria drafted by the US. And of course, Clinton may be asked to address the shootings in Afghanistan.
WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL DRUG LORD NEARLY NABBED
The AP reports that Mexican federal police nearly nabbed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, called the world’s most powerful drug lord, in Los Cabos three weeks ago. It was a day after Hillary Clinton met with dozens of other foreign ministers in the same southern Baja peninsula and resort town.
“KONY 2012″ TEAM TO RELEASE NEW FILM
Invisible Children, the nonprofit group that produced the wildly viral “Kony 2012,” says it will release a new film today to respond to criticism and questions over its approach. Ben Keesey, the group’s chief executive, told CNN Sunday his group plans to release a 10-minute video “that clicks through some of the questions.”
ISRAEL/IRAN: EX-SPY CHIEF SAYS, DON’T DO IT
A strike on Iran would have a “devastating impact” on Israel and lead to a regional war, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan told 60 Minutes last night. There are dozens of sites to attack, Dagan said; a strike can’t stop their program, he argues, just delay it. There’s “more time” – up to three years – to let other efforts play out, he said. (Sounds like the Obama plan…)
ISRAEL POUNDS GAZA
Continuing fighting that began Friday, Israeli air strikes have killed two alleged Palestinian militants and wounded at least 25 people in Gaza, in a fourth day of cross-border violence. Alex MARQUARDT reports it’s the worst violence in more than a year; in four days, more than 100 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel – and the IAF has carried out more than 20 strikes, killing 21 Gazans, mostly militants. The US condemned the rocket attacks as “cowardly;” the Arab League called the Israeli air strikes “a massacre.”
EGYPT’S “VIRGINITY TEST DOCTOR” ACQUITTED
MARQUARDT also reports on a much-watched case in Cairo. A military doctor accused of carrying out virginity tests on female detainees was acquitted by a military court yesterday. Dr. Ahmed Adel El-Mogy was accused of carrying out the tests on seven women detained after a sit-in on Tahrir Square last year. The judge said based his ruling on “what has been proven in documents and based on my conscience.” Amnesty called it a “travesty of justice.”
JEWELRY HEIST KILLS NINE IN BAGHDAD
Iraqi police and health officials say robbers have killed nine people and wounded 14 others in a jewelry heist in eastern Baghdad. Two carloads of robbers stormed four jewelry stores today in a small market in the Shiite neighborhood of Ur before noon. Gunmen stole gold and cash after a gunfight with nearby security forces.
OBAMA + CAMERON
From USA Today: As British media and political analysts question whether Britain and the U.S. have lost their “special relationship” status, President Obama is rolling out the red carpet — literally — and scheduling plenty of quality time with British Prime Minister David Cameron this week. Obama and Cameron travel to Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday to watch a first-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama has invited the prime minister’s wife, Samantha, to take part in a mini-Olympics event with Washington-area schoolchildren — a nod to the fact that London will be hosting the 2012 Summer Games. On Wednesday, the president and prime minister huddle in the Oval Office, where —in addition to the war in Afghanistan and Sunday’s shooting — they’re likely to discuss Iran’s suspected nuclear program, the precarious situation in Syria and the European financial crisis. Obama then honors his guest with a state dinner at the White House.
IRAN SANCTIONS…AND GERMAN BRATWURST?
One of the odder stories about the effects of economic sanctions: USA Today reports western sanctions against Iran are having an unintended effect on the famous Nuremberg bratwurst. Germans are complaining about the rising price of the beloved sausages, which are made with sheep intestines imported from Iran. The price of the sheep intestines has almost tripled in 18 months. Arguably the most popular of all sausages in Germany, the Nuremberg bratwurst dates to the Middle Ages and is a small, spicy sausage traditionally served by the half-dozen with sauerkraut on a heart-shaped pewter plate.