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Pentagon: Al-Qaeda leader linked to deadly bombings killed in Afghanistan

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London attacker used encrypted messaging app before rampage

AFP AFP_N05W7 I AOT GBR

Floral tributes to the victims of the March 22 terror attack are seen in Parliament Square in central London on March 26, 2017. British police investigating the terror attack on parliament made a new arrest on March 26 as authorities try to piece together the assailant's motive. (Photo: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS, AFP/Getty Images)

Minutes before the terrorist rampage in London on Wednesday, attacker Khalid Masood sent a WhatsApp message to an unknown person, authorities said Sunday. The message’s contents — and its intended recipient — can't be accessed by police because the popular messaging service encrypted them, a top British security official said.

Masood used the popular messaging service, which is owned by Facebook, just minutes before the attack that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead and dozens more wounded, The Associated Press reported.

Police have arrested 12 people in the investigation, including a 30-year-man who was detained in Birmingham on Sunday on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts, the BBC reported . Masood lived in Birmingham.

Nine people arrested after the attack have been freed without charges, while one person was released on bail, AP reported.

Appearing on BBC and Sky News on Sunday, Britain’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, urged WhatsApp and other encrypted services to make their platforms accessible to intelligence services and police as they try to find out more about the attacks.

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman said the company was "horrified at the attack" and was co-operating with the investigation, the BBC reported.

Masood drove a rented SUV into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before smashing it into Parliament’s gates and rushing onto the grounds, where he fatally stabbed a policeman and was shot by other officers. A detailed police reconstruction found that the entire attack lasted 82 seconds. Scotland Yard has said it believes Masood, 52, acted alone.

Police are trying to pinpoint his motive and identify any possible accomplices, making the WhatsApp message a potential clue to his state of mind and social media contacts.

Britain’s Telegraph reported that cybersecurity experts were expected to employ their own hackers to access the message.

Rudd said she would be meeting technology firms this week, adding that encryption that conceals a terrorist’s actions is “completely unacceptable — there should be no place for terrorists to hide.”

The company, which has a billion users worldwide, has said protecting private communication is one of its "core beliefs."

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it may never be possible to fully determine Masood’s motives.

“That understanding may have died with him,” Basu said Saturday night as police appealed for people who knew Masood or saw him to contact investigators. “Even if he acted alone in the preparation, we need to establish with absolute clarity why he did these unspeakable acts, to bring reassurance to Londoners.”

The Islamic State group,

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Weekend killings in Cincinnati, Las Vegas are terrifying but not terrorism

USP NEWS: CINCINNATI NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING A USA OH

A Cincinnati police car blocks the street while police investigate a mass shooting at the Cameo nightclub. (Photo: Liz Dufour, Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sp)

Authorities who investigated fatal shootings over the weekend at a Cincinnati nightclub and on the Las Vegas Strip were quick to report they saw no indication of terrorism.

The incidents were, in fact, the latest reminders that when it comes to terrorizing Americans, Americans don’t need help from terrorists. They’re perfectly capable of killing, maiming and scaring themselves — even at times and in places where people are supposed to be enjoying themselves.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich noted the absence of a terror motive in the Cincinnati shooting. Nevertheless, he told CNN, “As the father of two 17-year-old girls headed to college next year, you see things like this and you begin to wonder, ‘Where it is safe to go?’"

Not the Cameo nightclub, a place with a history of trouble, when gunfire erupted early Sunday amid a dispute among several men. One man was killed and more than a dozen other people injured by shots fired from several individuals, police said.

Nor Las Vegas Boulevard shortly before noon Saturday, when a man riding on a double-decker bus pulled out a gun. He killed one passenger — a man visiting from Montana — and wounded another before barricading himself inside the bus in a standoff that lasted about five hours. It ended in his surrender and arrest.

The standoff, which closed the famous street, was witnessed by many Cosmopolitan Hotel guests, who looked on from room balconies and the pool deck.

Jitters were compounded by the fact that earlier Saturday, three people wearing formal wear and animal masks walked into a jewelry store at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and stole merchandise. The sound of a hammer breaking glass sounded like gunshots, and for a time was reported as such. Police later said no shots were fired.

After last year's mass shooting in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people — the worst domestic terror incident since 9/11 — it’s easy to see why authorities want to tamp down terrorism fears as soon as they plausibly can.

Those long accustomed to late-night clubland mayhem were surprised to learn that, in a 911 call before the Orlando massacre, gunman Omar Mateen   swore allegiance to the Islamic State. He said the shooting was "triggered" by the killing of an Islamic State leader in an airstrike in Iraq the previous month. After invading the club, he told a police negotiator he was "out here right now" because of U.S.-led interventions in Syria and Iraq.

Now, virtually any violent episode — mass shooting, explosion, transportation disaster — sparks terrorism worries.

But such motives remain the exception. Since 9/11 Americans have been slaughtered at a movie theater (Aurora, Colo., in 2012; 12 dead) and a shopping mall (Omaha in 2007; eight dead) for reasons unconnected to international politics or religion.

Nor was there any such cause in 2003, at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, where a fire caused by pyrotechnics

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Weekend killings in Cincinnati, Las Vegas are terrifying but not terrorism

USP NEWS: CINCINNATI NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING A USA OH

A Cincinnati police car blocks the street while police investigate a mass shooting at the Cameo nightclub. (Photo: Liz Dufour, Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sp)

Authorities who investigated fatal shootings over the weekend at a Cincinnati nightclub and on the Las Vegas Strip were quick to report they saw no indication of terrorism.

The incidents were, in fact, the latest reminders that when it comes to terrorizing Americans, Americans don’t need help from terrorists. They’re perfectly capable of killing, maiming and scaring themselves — even at times and in places where people are supposed to be enjoying themselves.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich noted the absence of a terror motive in the Cincinnati shooting. Nevertheless, he told CNN, “As the father of two 17-year-old girls headed to college next year, you see things like this and you begin to wonder, ‘Where it is safe to go?’"

Not the Cameo nightclub, a place with a history of trouble, when gunfire erupted early Sunday amid a dispute among several men. One man was killed and more than a dozen other people injured by shots fired from several individuals, police said.

Nor Las Vegas Boulevard shortly before noon Saturday, when a man riding on a double-decker bus pulled out a gun. He killed one passenger — a man visiting from Montana — and wounded another before barricading himself inside the bus in a standoff that lasted about five hours. It ended in his surrender and arrest.

The standoff, which closed the famous street, was witnessed by many Cosmopolitan Hotel guests, who looked on from room balconies and the pool deck.

Jitters were compounded by the fact that earlier Saturday, three people wearing formal wear and animal masks walked into a jewelry store at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and stole merchandise. The sound of a hammer breaking glass sounded like gunshots, and for a time was reported as such. Police later said no shots were fired.

After last year's mass shooting in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people — the worst domestic terror incident since 9/11 — it’s easy to see why authorities want to tamp down terrorism fears as soon as they plausibly can.

Those long accustomed to late-night clubland mayhem were surprised to learn that, in a 911 call before the Orlando massacre, gunman Omar Mateen   swore allegiance to the Islamic State. He said the shooting was "triggered" by the killing of an Islamic State leader in an airstrike in Iraq the previous month. After invading the club, he told a police negotiator he was "out here right now" because of U.S.-led interventions in Syria and Iraq.

Now, virtually any violent episode — mass shooting, explosion, transportation disaster — sparks terrorism worries.

But such motives remain the exception. Since 9/11 Americans have been slaughtered at a movie theater (Aurora, Colo., in 2012; 12 dead) and a shopping mall (Omaha in 2007; eight dead) for reasons unconnected to international politics or religion.

Nor was there any such cause in 2003, at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, where a fire caused by pyrotechnics

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Democrats call for independent Russian probe apart from Congress

AP TRUMP RUSSIA A USA DC

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, AP)

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee repeated his call Sunday for an independent probe of possible Russian ties with the Donald Trump campaign.

“There are enough questions that have now been called, that have been raised where I think the establishment of a commission would give the country a lot of confidence that at least one body was doing this in a way that was completely removed from any political considerations,’’ California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

FBI Director James Comey confirmed last week that the agency is looking into possible Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the panel's probe into the allegations “the most important thing that I've ever done in my public life.

"As I get more and more into this, I'm going to double down on that statement because it's extraordinary,'' he said on NBC’s Meet the Press .

Warner said he’s open to an independent probe, but said there are hurdles to creating a commission. “If we could get an independent commission, I'm open to that," Warner said. “That means you've got to pass a bill. The president's got to sign it.”

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South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, dismissed the notion of an independent commission.

“Thank goodness we have one —  it’s called the FBI,” he said on “ Face the Nation.”

Gowdy called the FBI the “world’s premier law enforcement agency."

“It doesn’t get any more independent than that…,” he said. “Let Congress do its job, which is provide oversight over the intelligence community."

The Democratic call comes on the heels of recent dramatic events in which Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, briefed President Trump at the White House after seeing documents that he says identified U.S. citizens in the Trump transition being caught up in incidental surveillance of intelligence agency targets.

Nunes stunned reporters and his committee colleagues by holding a press conference right after that meeting.

Warner said Sunday he was “totally mystified by what Mr. Nunes has said.”

“I think it's fairly mystifying, if not outrageous, that he'd make these claims, then goes down and briefs the White House," Warner said on Meet the Press.  “I know Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat, still wants to keep the investigation bipartisan. I don't think Mr. Schiff even knows today what those documents are."

Schiff tweeted early Sunday, “The events of this week only underscore need for an independent commission to conduct its own Russia investigation, along with Congress."

Gowdy defended the Nunes meeting at the White House, saying he understands the committee chairman briefed Trump on issues unrelated to the Russian investigation.

“If that’s a big deal in Washington, then we’ve sunk to a new low,’’ Gowdy said. “So

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