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AP News in Brief at 5:58 p.m. EDT

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Bin Laden son-in-law guilty of al-Qaida role

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law was convicted yesterday in New York City for his role as al-Qaida’s fiery chief spokesman after Sept. 11, 2001 – a verdict prosecutors said vindicated the Obama administration’s strategy of bringing terrorism suspects to justice in civilian court.

A federal jury deliberated for six hours over two days before finding Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, guilty of charges that included conspiracy to kill Americans and providing support to al-Qaida.

Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti-born imam who married bin Laden’s eldest daughter about five years ago, is the highest-ranking al-Qaida figure brought to trial on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks.

Prosecutors said he played a leading role in the terrorist organization’s post-Sept. 11 propaganda videos, in which he and others gloated over the destruction, and he warned of a “storm of airplanes” to follow.

He could get life in prison at sentencing Sept. 8.


Former military chief to run for president

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Egyptian military chief who last summer removed the elected Islamist president, announced yesterday that he has resigned from the military and will run for president in elections scheduled for next month.

In a nationally televised speech, el-Sissi appeared in his military uniform, saying that it was the last time he would wear it because he was giving it up “to defend the nation” by running for president. He said he was “responding to a call from the people.”

Egyptian law says only civilians can run for president, so his resignation from the military, as well as his posts of military chief and defense minister, was a required step.

El-Sissi is widely expected to win the vote, after months of nationalist fervor since he removed Mohammed Morsi, who in 2012 became Egypt’s first freely elected and civilian president. The ouster in July came after massive protests demanding Morsi go after only a year in office amid public resentment that his Muslim Brotherhood was monopolizing power.

Since then, the military-backed interim government has waged a fierce crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, arresting thousands of members and killing hundreds of protesters in clashes.

TSA report: Increase checkpoint security

The Transportation Security Administration recommended yesterday that armed law enforcement officers be posted at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours in the aftermath of last year’s fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

The 25-page report to Congress obtained by the Associated Press makes 14 recommendations that do not carry a price tag and are somewhat dependent on local authorities who provide airport security.

While airport security has been beefed up since Sept. 11, 2001, the LAX shooting exposed communication problems and gaps in police patrols that left the terminal without an armed officer for nearly 3½ minutes as a gunman targeted TSA officers with a rifle Nov. 1.

The AP has reported that the two armed officers assigned to Terminal 3 were on break that morning and hadn’t notified dispatchers. Months earlier, LAX had changed staffing plans to have officers roam terminals instead of staffing checkpoints such as the one the gunman approached.

Poll: Ukraine crisis sinks Obama’s rating

Foreign policy used to stand out as a not-so-bleak spot in the public’s waning assessment of President Obama. Not anymore. He’s getting low marks for handling Russia’s swoop into Ukraine, and more Americans than ever disapprove of the way Obama is doing his job, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Despite the poor performance reviews, Obama’s primary tactic so far – imposing economic sanctions on key Russians – has strong backing.

Close to 9 out of 10 Americans support sanctions as a response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the poll indicates. About half of that group says the U.S. sanctions so far are about right, while the other half wants to see them strengthened, the AP-GfK poll found.

Most Democrats say the sanctions were okay, while a majority of Republicans find them too weak.

Associated Press

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