Norwegian-Somali identified as Kenya mall attacker as body parts found
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Quiet and respectful at the mosque as a boy, Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow later became angry and radicalized, people in the coastal town in Norway where he grew up said Friday of the Somali native -- the first Westgate Mall attacker to be identified.
Security camera images show the 23-year-old and three other gunmen firing coldly on shoppers as they made their way along store aisles after storming the upscale mall four weeks ago Saturday.
Until recently, investigators had referred to the attackers only by the colors of their shirts. However, two officials in Nairobi, one Western and one Kenyan, confirmed Friday that one of the gunmen had been identified as Dhuhulow.
The suspect’s 26-year-old sister, reached in the southern Norwegian town of Larvik, said his family was unaware of any role he may have played in the four-day siege that killed at least 67 people.
"I don’t want to believe this. I don’t believe that this is him. It doesn’t look like him. It isn’t him," Idman Dhuhulow told The Associated Press from the quiet town of 40,000 nestled between mountains and the sea, where Dhuhulow lived after his family moved there from Somalia in 1999.
Obama’s pick of Johnson to lead Homeland Security suggests priority shift
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Friday nominated the Pentagon’s former top lawyer to help craft the nation’s counterterrorism policy as secretary of homeland security, suggesting a shift from the department’s emphasis on immigration and border issues to a greater focus on security against possible attacks.
If confirmed by the Senate -- and no organized opposition has been indicated -- Jeh C. Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who left her post last month to become president of the University of California system. Johnson, whose first name is pronounced "Jay," is now a lawyer in a private firm.
Obama said he was nominating Johnson because of his "deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States." He credited Johnson with helping design and implement policies to dismantle the core of the al-Qaida terror organization overseas and to repeal the ban on openly gay service members in the U.S. military.
"He’s been there in the Situation Room, at the table in moments of decision," Obama said as he announced the nomination from the Rose Garden on a crisp and sunny fall afternoon.
Napolitano, who came to the Homeland Security Department after serving as governor of Arizona, made clear that her top priority was immigration reform, and she routinely championed the issue in congressional testimony. In contrast, Johnson has spent most of his career dealing with national security issues as a top military lawyer. Issues he has handled include changing military commissions to try some terrorism suspects rather than using civilian courts and overseeing the escalation of the use of unmanned drone strikes during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Greek authorities appeal for help in finding family of girl found in Gypsy camp
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- The Greek police raided the camp in search of drugs and weapons, part of a crackdown on illegal activity in the Gypsy community. But during the operation, an accompanying prosecutor noticed something else that stood out: a blond, blue-eyed little girl.
Around 4 years old and going by the name Maria, the girl looked nothing like the couple she lived with, officials said Friday. DNA tests proved she wasn’t their child, and further investigation raised even more suspicions: authorities allege the mother claimed to have given birth to six children in a total of less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children the couple registered as their own are unaccounted for.
As Greek officials now try to figure out the girl’s true identity and whether the couple was linked to child trafficking rings, experts are using the case to point out the severe weaknesses in the country’s birth registration system.
The child was found Wednesday near Farsala in central Greece. Police say they also found drugs and unregistered firearms in other parts of the Gypsy -- or Roma -- settlement, which is about 280 kilometers (170 miles) north of Athens.
The director of Greece’s "A child’s smile" charity, which is taking care of the girl, praised an observant prosecutor who went on the camp raid along with dozens of police. "She saw a little blond head poking out from under the bedclothes," Costas Giannopoulos told private Skai TV. "It struck her as odd, and that’s how it all started."
N.J. court says gay weddings can start Monday even as case is appealed, denying Christie request
Same-sex marriages will begin within days in New Jersey after the state’s highest court ruled unanimously Friday to uphold a lower-court order that gay weddings must start Monday and to deny a delay that was sought by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.
"The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today," the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. "The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative."
A judge on the lower court had ruled last month that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage and set Monday as the date to allow gay weddings. Christie, a Republican who is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed the decision and asked for the start date to be put on hold while the state appeals.
A spokesman for Christie said that he will comply with the ruling, though he doesn’t like it.
"While the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order," spokesman Michael Drewniak said in a statement.
Dallas police put officer on administrative leave after shooting of mentally ill man
DALLAS (AP) -- Surveillance video showing a Dallas police officer shooting a mentally ill man standing still about 20 feet away contradicts the assertion of an officer that the man threatened his safety by lunging at him with a knife.
Bobby Gerald Bennett remains hospitalized after being shot in the stomach Monday. The officer who shot him, Cardan Spencer, is on indefinite administrative leave pending a criminal investigation after a neighbor released surveillance video that captured the incident.
Bennett was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a public servant, but Police Chief David Brown announced Friday that the charge would be dropped.
Bennett’s mother, Joyce Jackson, said in an interview Friday that her 52-year-old son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and that he was off his medication at the time of the shooting. Jackson said she was arguing with Bennett when she called the police. She was told that officers who have been trained in dealing with the mentally ill would arrive to assist her.
The officers arrived outside her southeast Dallas home around noon to find Bennett sitting on a chair in the street holding a knife. At this point, accounts of the incident differ.
Mom says boy killed in Newtown massacre shouted for classmates to run, then was gunned down
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A 6-year-old boy killed in the massacre in Sandy Hook Elementary School shouted for his classmates to run while the gunman paused to reload and was shot moments later, the boy’s mother said Friday.
The boy, Jesse Lewis, had just seen his teacher shot and urged the others to flee while the gunman, Adam Lanza, put a new clip into his semi-automatic rifle.
"He yelled, ‘Run!’ Adam reloaded and shot him in the head," said Scarlett Lewis, who learned details of the events inside the classroom from investigators who gathered accounts from children who survived.
"When I heard he used his last few seconds on earth to try to save his friends, I was not surprised," she said. "I am so incredibly proud of him."
The boy’s actions were first reported by The Hartford Courant.
Police: Baby found in teenager’s bag at NYC lingerie shop was born alive
NEW YORK (AP) -- A dead baby found in a teenage girl’s shopping bag at a lingerie store was born alive and then asphyxiated, police said Friday, as the macabre discovery turned toward a possible homicide case.
Police believe 17-year-old Tiana Rodriguez gave birth to the baby at a friend’s house and that the infant was later asphyxiated. The city medical examiner’s office said an autopsy was inconclusive, and more tests were needed.
Little was immediately clear about the circumstances of Rodriguez’ pregnancy and the baby’s death. Some neighbors told reporters they hadn’t realized she was carrying a child.
Rodriguez remained hospitalized Friday after the find a day earlier, and a woman who answered the phone at a possible home number for her said she knew nothing about the matter. A message left at another possible number for Rodriguez wasn’t immediately returned.
A security guard found the child’s body in a bag Rodriguez was carrying Thursday as she and another 17-year-old girl, Francis Estevez, browsed at a Victoria’s Secret store in midtown Manhattan, police said. The guard stopped them on suspicion they were shoplifting, and both were ultimately arrested on petit larceny charges.
Officials: Possible criminal charges for men who knocked over ancient Utah rock formation
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah authorities are mulling whether to press charges against a Boy Scouts leader who purposely knocked over an ancient Utah desert rock formation and the two men who cheered him on after they posted video of the incident online.
Two of the men, who were leading a group of 14 to 16-year-old Boy Scouts on a trip, said the top of the rock formation was loose and they feared it was dangerous.
"This is about saving lives," Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. "One rock at a time."
The rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The park in central Utah is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom shaped sandstone formations.
In a video posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland, Utah, can be seen last Friday wedging himself between one formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing.