Articles written by Ben Fox


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  • US sees heightened extremist threat heading into midterms

    BEN FOX|Jun 8, 2022

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A looming Supreme Court decision on abortion, an increase of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and the midterm elections are potential triggers for extremist violence over the next six months, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday. The U.S. was in a "heightened threat environment" already, and these factors may worsen the situation, DHS said in the latest National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin. "In the coming months, we expect the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events c...

  • Reversing Trump, Biden acts to deploy US troops to Somalia

    BEN FOX and AAMER MADHANI|May 15, 2022

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed an order Monday to redeploy hundreds of U.S. troops to Somalia to counter the Islamic extremist rebel group al-Shabab, an effort that American military leaders said had been hampered by President Donald Trump's late-term decision to withdraw forces from the country. U.S. troops will be repositioned from elsewhere in Africa to train and provide other support to Somali forces in their fight against al-Shabab, which is considered the largest and wealthiest affiliate of the al-Qaida extremist o...

  • Biden visits Lockheed plant as weapons stockpile strained

    AAMER MADHANI and BEN FOX|May 4, 2022

    TROY, Ala. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Tuesday credited the assembly line workers at a Javelin missile plant for doing life-saving work in building the antitank weapons that are being sent to Ukraine to stifle Russia's invasion as he made a pitch for Congress to approve $33 billion so the U.S. can continue to hustle aid to the front lines. "You're allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves," Biden told the workers, his podium flanked by Javelin missile launchers and shipping containers. "And, quite frankly, they're making fools of the R...

  • Migrant crossings spike as US plans to lift curb on asylum

    BEN FOX|Apr 17, 2022

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Migrants attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the highest level in two decades as the U.S. prepares for even larger numbers with the expected lifting of a pandemic-era order that turned away asylum seekers. Immigration authorities stopped migrants 221,303 times along the Southwest border in March, a 33% increase from a month earlier, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Monday. The new figures were disclosed as the Biden administration comes under increasing pressure over the looming e...

  • AP FACT CHECK: Republicans skew Jackson's record on crime

    HOPE YEN and BEN FOX|Mar 23, 2022

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican senators characterized Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson's judicial views as extremist and soft on crime, using her confirmation hearings to air a line of conservative grievances that relied at times on distortions of her record. Over the first two days of hearings, Jackson was the subject of misleading rhetoric on critical race theory, her pandemic-era rulings and the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees she represented as a public defender. A look at how some claims compare with the reality: GUANTANAMO S...

  • Last Afghan refugees leave NJ base after chaotic evacuation

    BEN FOX|Feb 20, 2022

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The last of thousands of Afghan refugees who awaited resettlement at eight U.S. military installations departed Saturday from a base in New Jersey, completing a journey that started with the chaotic evacuation from Kabul in August. With assistance from refugee resettlement organizations, Afghans evacuated after their country fell to the Taliban have been gradually leaving the military bases in recent months and starting new lives in communities throughout the United States. The U.S. admitted 76,000 Afghans as part of O...

  • Ex-Maryland man who joined al-Qaida sentenced at Guantanamo

    BEN FOX|Oct 29, 2021

    FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — A military jury imposed a sentence of 26 years Friday on a former Maryland man who admitted joining al-Qaida and has been held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But under a plea deal, the man could be released as soon as next year because of his cooperation with U.S. authorities. The sentencing of Majid Khan is the culmination of the first trial by military commission for one of the 14 so-called high-value detainees who were sent to the U.S. naval base in Cuba in 2006 after being held in a clandestine network of o...

  • US expects to admit more than 50,000 evacuated Afghans

    BEN FOX and ELLEN KNICKMEYER|Sep 3, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — At least 50,000 Afghans are expected to be admitted into the United States following the fall of Kabul as part of an "enduring commitment" to help people who aided the American war effort and others who are particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule, the secretary of homeland security said Friday. Tens of thousands of Afghans have already made it through security vetting and arrived in the U.S. to begin the process of resettlement. Exactly how many more will come and how long it will take remain open questions, DHS S...

  • EXPLAINER: What's happening with Afghanistan evacuations?

    BEN FOX and JAMIE STENGLE|Aug 26, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Aug. 14, more than 82,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in one of the largest U.S. airlifts in history. While the pace has picked up in recent days, it's still a chaotic scramble as people seek to escape. Afghans trying to reach the Kabul airport face a gauntlet of danger, and there are far more who want to leave than will be able to do so. Those who do make it out will face the many challenges of resettlement, either in the U.S. or somewhere else. And time is r...

  • Florida suspect in Haiti president killing deepens mystery

    DANICA COTO and BEN FOX|Jul 11, 2021

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The arrest of a failed Haitian businessman living in Florida who authorities say was a key player in the killing of Haiti's president deepened the mystery Monday into an already convoluted plot surrounding the assassination. Haitian authorities identified the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 62, who once expressed a desire to lead his country in a YouTube video. However he is unknown in Haitian political circles, and associates suggested he was duped by those really behind the assassination of President J...

  • Biden vows 'sustained' help as Afghanistan drawdown nears

    ERIC TUCKER and BEN FOX|Jun 25, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday promised Afghanistan's top leaders a "sustained" partnership even as he moves to accelerate winding down the United States' longest war amid escalating Taliban violence. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of the High Council for National Reconciliation, met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before their sit-down with Biden at the White House later in the afternoon. While Biden vowed that the U.S. was committed to assisting Afghanistan, he also insisted t...

  • Watchdog: US forced deported parents to leave kids behind

    BEN FOX|May 23, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog says the Trump administration, under its practice of separating families at the border, forced migrant parents to leave the U.S. without their children, contradicting claims by officials that parents were willingly leaving them behind. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General said in a report released Monday that it found at least 348 cases in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement had no records showing migrants wanted to leave their children in the U.S. It also found "some" cases in w...

  • US ends use of 2 immigration jails accused of mistreatment

    BEN FOX and KATE BRUMBACK|May 19, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A detention facility in Georgia where women claim they were subjected to unwanted medical procedures and a Massachusetts jail that has drawn complaints of inhumane conditions will no longer be used to detain immigrants, the Biden administration said Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security said it would terminate contracts with the local government agency that runs the detention center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and with the private operator of the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia. Any detainees the U...

  • Child border crossings surging, straining US facilities

    BEN FOX and ELLIOT SPAGAT|Mar 17, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive, with the head of Homeland Security acknowledging the depth of the problem Tuesday but insisting it's under control and saying he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. The number of migrants being stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border has been rising steadily since last April, and the administration is still rapidly expelling most single adults and families under a public health order issued by P...

  • Senate confirms Mayorkas as Biden's homeland security chief

    BEN FOX|Feb 3, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday as President Joe Biden's homeland security secretary, the first Latino to fill a post that will have a central role in the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, a sweeping Russia-linked cyber hack and domestic extremism. Mayorkas was confirmed by a 56-43 vote, the narrowest margin yet for a Biden Cabinet nominee. The first immigrant to serve in the job, he will lead a broad policy overhaul of an agency that was accused of being deeply politicized as it carried out...

  • US terrorism alert warns of politically motivated violence

    BEN FOX and ERIC TUCKER|Jan 27, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to "a heightened threat environment across the United States" that it believes "will persist" for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is...

  • Trump Homeland Security chief abruptly quits at tense time

    BEN FOX|Jan 10, 2021

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's acting head of the Department of Homeland Security abruptly resigned Monday, leaving the post ahead of schedule as the nation faces a heightened terrorism threat from extremists seeking to reverse the election. The announcement by acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was perplexing. It came less than a week after Wolf pledged to remain in office and just 10 days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. Wolf cited a legal challenge to his leadership as a reason for his resignation, but that h...

  • Trump fires agency head who vouched for 2020 vote security

    BEN FOX|Nov 18, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump fired the nation's top election security official, a widely respected member of his administration who had dared to refute the president's unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud and vouch for the integrity of the vote. While abrupt, the dismissal Tuesday of Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was not a surprise. Since his loss, Trump has been ridding his administration of officials seen as insufficiently loyal and has been denouncing the conduct o...

  • FBI director says antifa is an ideology, not an organization

    ERIC TUCKER and BEN FOX|Sep 18, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Chris Wray told lawmakers Thursday that antifa is an ideology, not an organization, delivering testimony that puts him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has said he would designate it a terror group. Hours after the hearing, Trump took to Twitter to chastise his FBI director for his statements on antifa and on Russian election interference, two themes that dominated a congressional hearing on threats to the American homeland. Referring to antifa, the president wrote: "And I look at them as a bunch of w...

  • Official claims pressure to alter Homeland Security intel

    BEN FOX|Sep 9, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A Department of Homeland Security official said in a whistleblower complaint released Wednesday that he was pressured by more senior officials to suppress facts in intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including information about Russian interference in the election and the rising threat posed by white supremacists. The official, Brian Murphy, alleged that senior DHS officials also pressed him to alter reports so they would reflect administration policy goals and that he was demoted for r...

  • US halts imports linked to Taiwan-based fishing vessel

    Ben Fox|Aug 21, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Accounts of abusive conditions and forced labor have prompted the U.S. to halt imports from a Taiwan-based fishing vessel that reportedly has supplied the global tuna trading company that acquired Bumble Bee Seafoods this year. U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued the order blocking shipments from the Da Wang at all American ports, the second such action by the Trump administration against a vessel in the Taiwanese shipping fleet since May. It follows reports from Greenpeace East Asia of abuses in the second largest f...

  • Trump administration defends Homeland Security leadership

    BEN FOX|Aug 16, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A nonpartisan congressional watchdog's finding that the two top officials at the Department of Homeland Security are legally ineligible to hold their posts is "erroneous" and should be withdrawn, a Trump administration official said Monday. Acting DHS general counsel Chad Mizelle defended the legality of the administration's appointments and said the timing and the author of the finding by the General Accountability Office appear to be politically motivated. "The GAO should rescind its erroneous report immediately," Mizelle w...

  • Trump strikes China over virus, Hong Kong and student visas

    Ben Fox|May 31, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has announced that he would withdraw funding from the World Health Organization, end Hong Kong's special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government, escalating tensions with China that have surged during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has been expressing anger at the World Health Organization for weeks over what he has portrayed as an inadequate response to the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China's Wuhan province l...

  • Trump strikes China over virus, Hong Kong and student visas

    Ben Fox|May 29, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Friday he would withdraw funding from the World Health Organization, end Hong Kong's special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government — escalating tensions with China that have surged during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has been expressing anger at the World Health Organization for weeks over what he has portrayed as an inadequate response to the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in China's Wuhan pro...

  • US seeking industry cooperation on future medical supplies

    Ben Fox|May 22, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials are invoking a rarely used provision of American law that would shield companies from antitrust regulations to help the country from again running out of medical supplies in a pandemic. The government began formal discussions Thursday with private industry representatives on a cooperative five-year agreement to ensure supplies of protective materials, medical equipment, medicine and vaccines. The agreement would involve a provision of the Defense Production Act that has been used only twice before to enable comp...

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