National Roundup

New York
9/11 mastermind: Spokesman had no military role 
NEW YORK (AP) — The self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks says a onetime Osama bin Laden spokesman who is on trial in New York had no role in planning military operations for al-Qaida.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement filed late Sunday in Manhattan federal court that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith served as an al-Qaida spokesman because he was “an eloquent, spellbinding speaker.” But Abu Gaith, Mohammed said, “was not a military man and had nothing to do with military operations.”
Abu Gaith, who is a son-in-law of bin Laden, is charged with conspiring to kill Americans.
Prosecutors say Abu Ghaith was part of al-Qaida’s deadly plot in his role as spokesman in fiery videos and as a motivational speaker at the group’s training camps in Afghanistan. Abu Ghaith’s lawyers have said the Kuwait-born imam made inflammatory remarks but didn’t conspire to carry out terrorism.
Defense lawyers are seeking to use testimony from Mohammed, who is in a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They would need U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s approval to introduce the information.
The defense has suggested Mohammed could help rebut the government’s claim that Abu Ghaith must have known in advance of al-Qaida’s so-called shoe bomb airplane plots, including Richard Reid’s attempt to carry one out in December 2001.
The statement from Mohammed consisted of answers he gave to questions posed by Abu Ghaith’s lawyers.
In the statement, Mohammed said he never spoke with Abu Ghaith about the shoe bomb operation and added, “those tasked with giving statements to the media do not necessarily know all the details of an operation and are sometimes even unaware of the very existence of the operation.”
Prosecutors rested their case Friday in the trial of Abu Ghaith, the highest-level al-Qaida figure to be tried in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks. The defense case started Monday.
 
Louisiana
Teacher’s arrest raises questions of discipline 
BAKER, La. (AP) — How far can a teacher go to maintain discipline as an effective educator?
Baker School Board President Dana Carpenter said that question is at the heart of Thursday’s arrest of Baker Middle School teacher accused of grabbing an eighth-grade student by his shirt and yanking him out of her classroom.
Carpenter said Friday the Baker Police Department’s decision to arrest and jail 47-year-old teacher Deborah Anderson was too aggressive.
Baker Police Chief Mike Knaps has defended the Police Department’s decision to book Anderson by citing Police Department protocol.
“Our normal protocol is to book an adult on battery charges when the victim is a juvenile. The purpose for this is to allow a cool-down period,” Knaps wrote in an email to The Advocate on Friday when asked about the reason for the misdemeanor arrest.
However, Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers union, tells The Advocate Anderson’s arrest sends a bad message to educators in Baker and teachers statewide.
“This sends a message to teachers that if the protocol is so stark and clear, you could find yourself arrested and taken to jail if you put your hands on someone. These teachers have to uphold order and take reasonable action, and it seems like, in this case, the teacher’s actions were reasonable,” Monaghan said.
Both Carpenter and Baker School Superintendent Ulysses Joseph have said issuing a misdemeanor summons to Anderson would have been a more appropriate way to handle the incident.
“She (Anderson) was just trying to discipline the kid. This is the kind of thing that can render a teacher ineffective,” Joseph said Friday.
Knaps said Friday that the department was not called by anyone at the school or by anyone with the School Board. Knaps said the department was called by the student’s mother.
Anderson is on paid administrative leave.
She is due to appear in Baker City Court on April 29.
 
Kansas
Wichita police and FBI target gang violence 
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The FBI has joined with Wichita police in a bid to target the city’s most violent gang members.
Under the new partnership, an FBI agent works with a detective and officer from the Wichita Police Department’s gang unit to review unsolved homicides and build cases against gang members who have a history of violence, The Wichita Eagle reported. The team also works with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“They’re targeting the worst of the worst,” police Capt. Scott Heimerman said.
“If you are a gang member and you get caught with a pistol in this town, you are going to go to prison period,” Heimerman said. “If you have a felony conviction, it will be federal prison.”
Even crime victims who are found with guns and are convicted felons will face prosecution.
“I don’t care if you’re a victim or not,” Heimerman said. “If you’re a gang member and you had a gun and you’re a felon, I’m going to charge you.”
Police Chief Norman Williams said the partnership stems from last June, when John Sullivan, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Wichita branch, floated the idea of having an FBI agent work with police in whatever capacity police thought was most needed. FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said fighting gang violence is an FBI priority.
She said the FBI is also part of joint task forces in other cities, including Kansas City, Mo.
Williams credited the FBI for the recent arrest of a 27-year-old gang member accused of trying to run over a Wichita police officer in November 2012. Williams said the FBI’s connections and expertise were vital in finding Marquel Dean in Garland, Texas.
Dean avoided capture on outstanding warrants for more than a year. He committed “new crimes,” according to a Sedgwick County District Court document, until he was arrested in Texas. Dean, who spent months on the U.S. marshals’ Top 10 most-wanted list, is being held in Sedgwick County Jail on bonds totaling more than $1.1 million.
The task force is in position to deal “a pretty substantial blow to violent criminal gang activity,” Heimerman said. “This group will go after the most violent, the most active members until the violence ceases.”

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