U.S. military: Al Qaeda working more closely with the Taliban
The U.S. military says al Qaeda is working more closely with the Taliban in Afghanistan, raising concern that the militant group could bolster the fight against Afghan government forces.
Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland is a spokesman for the U.S.-NATO mission. Cleveland told Pentagon reporters during a video conference Thursday from Kabul that by itself, al Qaeda is not seen as a significant threat to the Afghan government.
But he says that because al-Qaida is beginning to work more with the Taliban, the extremist group could act as an “accelerant” to the fight the Taliban are waging on Afghan security forces.
He estimated there are 100 to 300 members of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. AP
Iraq’s PM replaces military commander over Green Zone breach
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi replaced the commander of a military division tasked with protecting the heavily fortified Green Zone Thursday after hundreds of angry anti-government protesters broke into the parliament building last week.
On April 30 hundreds of protesters, mainly followers of Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, knocked down concrete blast walls and broke into the parliament building, damaging furniture and slapping some lawmakers who tried to flee. Security forces stood idle with some seen kissing and shaking hands with the protesters.
Cabinet spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said al-Abadi issued a decree to replace staff Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ridha due to “the breach and assaults against the government institution.”
Al-Sadr’s supporters have been holding demonstrations and sit-ins for months to demand an overhaul of the political system put in place by the U.S. following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
In March, Ridha was seen kissing al-Sadr’s hands when the cleric entered the Green Zone to start a brief protest sit-in in a tent.
The storming was a major escalation of a political crisis that has simmered for months. The crisis has hindered the government’s efforts to address a worsening financial situation resulting from low oil prices and combat the Islamic State group, which still controls much of northern and western Iraq.AP
Boeing drone unit to open office at Mississippi State
A unit of Chicago-based Boeing is opening an office in Starkville, Miss., to work with Mississippi State University’s unmanned aircraft center.
Insitu made the announcement May 4 at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in New Orleans.
The company plans to hire 25 people, working on engineering, software development and customer service support, working with the university.
The Federal Aviation Administration designated MSU in May 2015 to host the National Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, leading a team of 13 universities researching unmanned aerial vehicles.
Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Tammy Craft says the state did not provide incentives to Insitu, which is based in Bingen, Wash. AP