First Thing: Lockerbie bomb suspect in US custody ‘abducted by warlord’ |

Good morning.

A former Libyan intelligence operative accused of preparing the bomb that brought down Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was taken into US custody after being abducted from his home by a notorious warlord and then detained by armed militia for two weeks, the Guardian has been told.

Mohammed Abouagela Masud appeared briefly in court in Washington DC on Monday, accused of having set the timer for the bomb that destroyed the Boeing 747, killing 270 people in the most deadly terrorist attack to have taken place on British soil.

The US Department of Justice announced it had custody of Masud at the weekend, but gave no details of how he had arrived in the US.

Officials with knowledge of the case in Libya told the Guardian that Masud was seized at his home in the capital’s Abu Salem neighborhood by forces loyal to Abdel Ghani al-Kikili, known as “Gheniwa”, who commands the Stability Support Authority (SSA) of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity.

  • What have the White House said? Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, told reporters: “Today is a good day because Masud will be facing justice for his alleged role in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. I will say that this was done in a lawful manner according to established procedures. For more specifics on how it happened I would refer you to the justice department because they’re best positioned to be able to speak to that.”

  • What did the justice department say? In a statement, Michael H Glasheen, the acting assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington field office, said: “The lawful arrest and presentation in court of the alleged bombmaker … is the product of hard work and partnerships across the globe.”

Onslaught of new abortion restrictions looms in reddest of states

In January, state legislatures will reconvene with conservatives lawmakers no longer constrained by a constitutional right to abortion. Photograph: Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images

In Nebraska, a total abortion ban could be on the horizon. In Florida, the gestational limit for abortions could drop from 15 weeks to 12. Elsewhere, lawmakers have abortion pills in their sights, writes Poppy Noor.

When Roe v. Wade fell, most states were no longer in legislative session, meaning the term during which they usually write and pass bills had ended. In January, state legislatures will reconvene in an entirely new reality, one where conservative lawmakers are no longer constrained by the constitutional right to abortion once assured by Roe.

The midterm elections brought victories for abortion rights in a number of states. But in others, politicians are on the side of anti-abortion advocates. In those reddest of states, the new state legislative sessions are likely to bring a fresh onslaught of efforts to restrict, penalize or altogether ban abortion.

Katie Glenn, the state policy director at Susan B Anthony Pro-Life America, confirms the group’s top priority in 2023 will be reducing the gestational age for legal abortion, alongside bringing new outright bans. Abortion is currently banned in 13 states.

  • How restrictive will those bans be? It remains to be seen. Conservatives across the country embroiled in conflicts over which exceptions – if any – should be allowed for abortion. “Exceptions in the case of rape and incest, we realize, are sometimes a necessary political reality. And we would not block a bill or oppose a bill that would prevent 95% of abortions,” explains Glenn.

Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in the Bahamas as criminal charges loom

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Bahamas police have arrested former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the country’s attorney general said in a statement on Monday, adding that the Bahamas has received formal notification from the US of criminal charges against him.

Bankman-Fried is expected to be extradited to the US, the attorney general’s office for the Bahamas told Reuters, but declined to comment on what the charges were.

In a statement released on Twitter, Damian Williams, the US attorney for the southern district of New York, confirmed Bankman-Fried’s arrest and said the related indictment would be unsealed on Tuesday morning. “[We] will have more to say at that time,” he said.

The former CEO had been expected to make his first public appearance today since FTX’s collapse by testifying before the US Congress. Bankman-Fried, who has been vocal throughout the collapse of FTX on his Twitter account and in public media appearances, was tweeting just hours before his arrest.

  • What happened with FTX? The company filed for US bankruptcy protection last month and Bankman-Fried resigned as chief executive, triggering a wave of public demands for greater regulation of the cryptocurrency industry.

In other news…

The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory system uses 192 laser beams converging at the center of this giant sphere.
The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory system uses 192 laser beams converging at the center of this giant sphere. Photograph: Damien Jemison/AP
  • Researchers have reportedly made a breakthrough in the quest to unlock a “near-limitless, safe, clean” source of energy: they have got more energy out of a nuclear fusion reaction than they put in. Researchers managed to release a positive gain known as ignition.

  • Elon Musk’s Twitter abruptly dissolved its Trust and Safety Council last night, moments before it was scheduled to meet with company representatives. Meanwhile, the billionaire was booed for 10 minutes while appearing on stage on Sunday with comedian Dave Chappelle.

  • A young protester has been detained in southern China for nine days after taking part in rallies against Covid restrictions, her mother has said, expressing fear and anguish over her daughter’s safety. China last week effectively ended its harsh zero-Covid policy, after public discontent.

  • New York City is naming a gate in Central Park in honor of the five men who, as teenagers, were wrongfully convicted of the 1989 rape of a jogger and spent years in prison before being exonerated. The city’s public design commission unanimously approved the project yesterday.

  • The US has shipped the first part of its power equipment aid to Ukraine, officials said yesterday, as Washington works to support the country’s energy infrastructure against intensifying attacks from Russia. The first tranche was power equipment worth about $13m, one of the officials said.

World Cup 2022: Semi-finals kick off

Lionel Messi is on the hunt for one of the few trophies to elude him: the World Cup.
Lionel Messi is on the hunt for one of the few trophies to elude him: the World Cup. Photograph: Kieran McManus/REX/Shutterstock

The first semi-final kicks off at 2pm ET today. Lionel Messi, one of the greatest players in history, is on the hunt for one of the few trophies to elude him: the World Cup. In his way are Croatia, who reached the final in 2018, an incredible feat for a country with a population of 4 million. As the Guardian’s Nick Ames tells us, Croatia’s success story is built on family values ​​and a sprinkling of stardust. You can follow the latest action here from 1pm ET.

Elsewhere at the World Cup

  • The US were knocked out more than a week ago, but one of their storylines rumbles on. Reports over the weekend suggested that one of their young stars, Gio Reyna, was almost sent home because of a perceived lack of effort. Reyna hit back on Instagram on Monday, calling parts of the coverage “highly fictionalized versions of events”.

  • Bono (not that one) has emerged as one of the stars of the tournament. The Morocco goalkeeper has been instrumental in his team becoming the first African side in history to reach the World Cup semi-finals. But, as Sid Lowe tells us, his career could have taken a very different trajectory.

Stat of the day: Emma Tucker to become first female editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal in its 133-year history

Emma Tucker was named editor of the Sunday Times in 2020.
Emma Tucker was named editor of the Sunday Times in 2020. Photograph: Francesco Guidicini/Times Newspapers Ltd/PA

Emma Tucker, the British editor of the UK Sunday Times, was named on Monday as the new editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, and will become the first woman to lead the 133-year-old business title. The move, announced by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, will happen in February next year when Tucker, who will also run Dow Jones Newswires, will succeed Matt Murray, who will depart after a four-year tenure. Tucker was named editor of the Sunday Times in 2020, and in published interviews talked about building digital growth and working to broaden the publication’s audience beyond its core older, affluent and middle-class readers.

Don’t miss this: ‘It’s been very dark for all of us’– film-maker Alexandra Pelosi on a family on America’s political frontline

Alexandra Pelosi and her mother, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, arrive for a state dinner in honor of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the White House this month.
Alexandra Pelosi and her mother, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, arrive for a state dinner in honor of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the White House this month. Photograph: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Reuters

While her father Paul Pelosi, 82, is undergoing a slow and painful recovery from a hammer attack in late October by a home intruder and her mother Nancy Pelosi, also 82, last month announced her retirement as Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, assured of a place in history as the first female speaker,
filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi is promoting her latest documentary Pelosi in the House, which shows her mother resisting the January 6 insurrection. She talks to David Smith about her dad’s attack, her mum’s long goodbye to politics and what happened when the Capitol was stormed.

Climate check: Tanzania’s booming charcoal trade drives unchecked deforestation

Cleared forest on the edge of Ruhoi reserve in eastern Tanzania.  Illegal loggers depend on the trade to live, hampering conservation efforts.
Cleared forest on the edge of Ruhoi reserve in eastern Tanzania. Illegal loggers depend on the trade to live, hampering conservation efforts. Photograph: Imani Nsamila/The Guardian

Large swathes of Ruhoi forest reserve in eastern Tanzania now lay bare, the ground in some sections dry and scorched, covered with stumps and brittle and fallen trees, writes Caroline Kimeu. The forest is being cut down at an alarming rate to meet the growing demand for charcoal in the nearby city of Dar es Salaam. As a result of high gas prices, about 90% of Tanzanian households now use charcoal or firewood to cook, which is fueling rapid deforestation across the country. Between 2015 and 2020, the country lost almost 470,000 hectares (1.16m acres) of forest a year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Last Thing: ninety-year-old woman is oldest person to graduate from Illinois university

Joyce DeFauw
‘I’d never dreamed I’d be around at this time, but here I am,’ said Joyce DeFauw. Photograph: Northern Illinois University

Joyce DeFauw of Illinois has given a whole new meaning to the term super senior, used for students who take longer than the usual four years to get their undergraduate degrees. On Sunday, the 90-year-old received a bachelor’s of general studies from Northern Illinois University more than seven decades after she first stepped on campus, becoming what officials believe to be the oldest person to graduate from the school. “I’d never dreamed I’d be around at this time, but here I am,” DeFauw said about her academic journey. “I’ve learned that I can do things I never thought I could do, with the help of others. You can never stop learning.”

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