November 8, 2017

News Briefs – November 8, 2017

Air Force error allows Texas church shooter to buy guns

Authorities say the gunman who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was able to buy weapons because the Air Force did not report his domestic violence conviction to the federal database.

Federal officials said Nov. 6 that the Air Force didn’t submit Devin Patrick Kelley’s criminal history despite being required to do so by Pentagon rules. An Air Force spokeswoman says the service has launched a review of its handling of Kelley’s case.

Kelley was found guilty of assault during a court-martial in 2012 for abusing his then-wife and her child. He was given 12 months’ confinement, followed by a bad-conduct discharge in 2014. Authorities say that’s the same year he bought the first of four weapons.

In 2015, a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general found lapses in the military’s reporting to civilian authorities of domestic violence convictions. AP

African Union force begins troop withdrawal from Somalia

The African Union says it has begun its withdrawal from Somalia and will cut 1,000 troops by the end of this year as security responsibilities start to shift to the local military.

The continental body said Nov. 7 that the move comes at a critical time, less than a month after the country’s worst attack killed more than 350 people. The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group has been blamed.

The AU says its troop movements shouldn’t cause alarm, but the withdrawal has begun earlier than expected. Plans had said the first troops would leave in 2018.

The 22,000-strong African Union force in Somalia is expected to fully withdraw by the end of 2020. The United States military and others have expressed concern that Somalia’s security forces will not be ready by then. AP

Iraqi VP asks for arms, training for Sunnis in his country

Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunni is in Washington this week pleading for more military aid for his community’s militias, hoping the Trump administration will deliver on pledges to counter Iran’s influence.

Osama al-Nujaifi is one of Iraq’s three vice presidents. His brother heads a major Iraqi defense faction. Both have been represented in Washington by the same lobbyist employed last year by President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Trump fired Flynn in February.

Al-Nujaifi met Monday with U.S. officials in an effort to bolster the influence of Iraq’s minority Sunni Muslims — and shore up his power base.

His requests for equipment and training face resistance. While Trump has tweeted warnings about Shiite Iran’s influence, Americans officials aren’t yet providing direct military aid to Iraq’s Sunni fighters. AP

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Courtesy photograph

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