Live Blog

Today's News: April 21, 2017

The Paris attack, Arkansas’ first execution since 2005, and more from the United States and around the world.

Reuters

—More details are emerging of the man who carried out yesterday’s attack in Paris that killed a police officer.

—Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a temporary stay.

—We’re tracking the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).

Updates

This live blog has concluded

United CEO Oscar Munoz Will No Longer Become Chairman, Airline Says

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz will no longer be taking on the role as United Continental Holdings (UAL) Inc’s chairman next year as previously planned, according to a federal filing. As The Wall Street Journal reports, the airline’s parent company said it will also be adjusting its executive compensation incentives to focus on performance based on customer service. The move comes two weeks after a passenger was forcibly dragged off what was thought to be an overbooked flight by law enforcement—an incident that generated global backlash against the airline and wiped nearly $1 billion off its value. Munoz, who called the event a “system failure,” said Tuesday no one would be fired as a result of the incident and vowed the airline would no longer use law enforcement to remove booked, paid, and seated passengers from flights. Munoz, who became CEO in 2015, serves as a member of UAL’s board of directors, and was anticipated to become chairman of the board in 2018.

Taliban Attack Afghan Military Base; Casualties Reported

Anil Usyan / Reuters

Taliban fighters dressed in Afghan military uniforms attacked an army base in the country’s north, killing or wounding more than 50 people. The attack was on the army headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of the northern Balkh Province. It began at about 1:30 p.m. local time and fighting was still underway more than four hours later. The attack came as soldiers were gathering in the dining hall for lunch and during a prayers service at a mosque on the base. The Afghan military said at least five Taliban attackers have been killed so far. One fighter wore a suicide vest, but was killed before he could detonate it. U.S. Colonel John Thomas, spokesman for Central Command, told Reuters it was a “significant strike,” adding “we're talking probably more than 50 casualties.” The area has seen heavy violence, and is at the center of the campaign to rid the Taliban from northern Afghanistan.

German Police Say Suspect Bombed the Borussia Dortmund Bus to Profit in a Stock Scheme

Reuters

German police arrested Friday a 28-year-old man and accused him of bombing the Borussia Dortmund soccer team’s bus earlier this month in order to drive the price of the club’s stock down so he could make a massive profit. On the day of the attack, April 11, police say the man, who was only identified as Sergei W., bought 15,000 put options (an option to sell a share on or before a particular date at an agreed upon price), then bombed the bus in order to drive the share price down. The explosion wounded one player and one police officer. Some European soccer teams are publicly traded, and authorities said the suspect could have gained up to $4.1 million. Authorities had originally blamed the bombing on a terrorist attack, even attributing it to ISIS. Then investigators found three identical statements near the attack that referenced a “caliphate,” which seemed to back police suspicions. Another letter was sent to a local German news organizations blaming the attack on far-right groups, and yet another letter accused far leftists. Two men were taken into custody in connection with the attack, one of whom police called a local leader with ISIS. Investigators were tipped off to the latest suspect’s financial scheme by an online bank, which believed the man was laundering money, The Guardian reported.  

Imprisoned Egyptian-American Aid Worker Returns to U.S. After 3 Years

Aya Hijazi and her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, talk inside a holding cell ahead of their trial at a courthouse in Cairo, Egypt on March 23, 2017. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters)

Aya Hijazi, the Egyptian-American aid worker who’d been imprisoned by Egyptian authorities for three years on charges human-rights organizations dismissed as bogus, was flown home Thursday night after her release was secured by the Trump administration. Hijazi, her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, and four others were first detained by Egyptian authorities in May 2014. The couple had been working at the Belady Foundation, an NGO they founded to provide rehabilitation programs for street children in Cairo. Their case quickly became a symbol of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on civil society. The two faced charges of child abuse and paying children to participate in anti-government demonstrations—allegations human-rights advocates, including 18 Egyptian human-rights groups, dismissed as false. The Obama administration was unsuccessful in its attempt to negotiate Hijazi’s release, and Egypt’s move to drop the charges comes weeks after President Trump welcomed Egyptian President Fatah al-Sisi to the White House—the leader’s first visit to Washington after he assumed power in 2013. Trump made no public mention of Hijazi during the visit, but noted that while both countries “have a few things” they do not agree upon, the U.S. is “very much behind President al-Sisi.”

Arkansas Executes Its First Death-Row Inmate Since 2005

Protesters call for an end to the death penalty outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington on January 17, 2007. Capital punishment remains controversial—though a majority of Americans support the death penalty. (Jason Reed / Reuters)

Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 on late Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected requests to stay the lethal injection, allowing the state to proceed with its plan to execute Ledell Lee, 51. Lee, who was sentenced to death in 1995 for the killing of Debra Reese, had maintained his innocence. His execution came just days after the U.S. high court declined to vacate the state supreme court’s order halting another scheduled execution from taking place. As Yasmeen Serhan wrote at the time “The high court’s ruling, which came just minutes before the death warrant of 54-year-old inmate Don Davis expired, prevented the state of Arkansas from conducting the first of eight lethal injections scheduled to take place this month.” Arkansas’ decision to schedule eight executions over the 11 days correlates with its supply of execution-drug midazolam that is set to expire at the end of the month. Here’s how the legal drama played out, via The New York Times, last night before the execution:

An evening of appeals kept Mr. Lee, 51, alive as his death warrant neared its midnight expiration. The United States Supreme Court, as well as a federal appeals court in St. Louis, issued temporary stays of execution while they considered his legal arguments. In Little Rock, the Arkansas capital, Gov. Asa Hutchinson monitored developments at the State Capitol.

At one point on Thursday night, the Supreme Court nearly halted Mr. Lee’s execution, but decided, 5 to 4, to allow the state to proceed with its plan, which had called for eight prisoners to be put to death over less than two weeks. The court’s majority — which included the newest justice, Neil M. Gorsuch — did not explain its decision, but in a dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer complained about how the state had established its execution schedule because of the approaching expiration date of Arkansas’s stock of midazolam.

UPDATE: Authorities Name Paris Attacker

(Benoit Tessier / Reuters)

Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET

Francois Molins, the Paris prosecutor, has idenfied the man who carried out Thursday’s attack on the Champs Élysées in Paris as Karim Cheurfi, 39. Earlier, French authorities told Agence-France Presse the suspect had previously been arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill officers, but was released because of a lack of evidence. Cheurfi killed one officer and wounded two others before being killed. France 24 adds: “He was convicted in 2005 on three counts of attempted murder, with two of these against police officers, sources said. The suspect was arrested again in February on suspicion of plotting to kill officers but released due to lack of evidence.” ISIS claimed responsibility for last night’s attack, which came days before Sunday’s presidential election. The group identified the attacker as Abu Yussef al-Balgiki, though there’s no official indication the attacker was Belgian; previous attackers in France have been Belgian. Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have told their French counterparts of a possible second suspect, who is being sought in connection with the attack, a French interior ministry spokesman said. Another man who was being sought by French authorities has turned himself in to police in Antwerp, the spokesman said. This is the latest attack by Islamist militants to strike France since at least 2012. More than 200 people have collectively been killed, and France has been in a state of emergency since November 2015.