Trump Pardons Former Soldier Convicted of Killing Iraqi Man

President Trump on Monday pardoned a former Army lieutenant who served five years in federal prison after being convicted of killing an Iraqi prisoner during an interrogation.First Lt. Michael Behenna shot Ali Mansur, an Iraqi man believed to be connected to Al Qaeda, while interrogating him about an attack that left two American soldiers dead in 2008.Behenna claimed that he shot Mansur in the chest and head in self-defense after the suspected terrorist threw a piece of concrete at him and reached for his gun. A military court nevertheless found him guilty of “unpremeditated murder in a combat zone” in 2009 and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. He was released on parole in 2014.The White House cited the support Behenna has received from elected officials in Oklahoma and his record as a prisoner in justifying the pardon. Behenna “has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public,” the White House statement read. “Further, while serving his sentence Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency,” the statement continued.The pardon comes after the Oklahoma attorney general sent three letters asking for leniency on Behenna’s behalf.“Simply put, American troops risking their lives in war to protect us deserve a better legal process than the hand that was dealt to Behenna,” one letter states.Behenna, who told fellow soldiers “he would do it again, and he did not feel bad about it because he just lost two guys,” will now have his right to vote and own firearms restored.Trump has similarly expressed support for Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, a Green Beret charged by the Army in connection with the 2010 killing of a Taliban-linked militant.“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”

U.S. Dispatches Carrier Group to Middle East to Send ‘Clear and Unmistakeable’ Message to Iran

The Trump administration has dispatched an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East in order to demonstrate U.S. resolve to the Iranian regime, national security adviser John Bolton announced Sunday evening.“[A]ny attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said. “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”The USS Abraham Lincoln and its accompanying aircraft strike group will travel from the Mediterranean Sea to to the U.S. Central Command, an area that includes the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf.The decision was reached following “clear indications” that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were planning to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East, the Associated Press reported Monday.Speaking to reporters aboard his flight to Europe on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said plans to dispatch the decision was made in response to a series of “escalatory actions” by the Iranians but would not specify as to what those were.“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”The move comes after the Trump administration officially designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group and eliminated all exemptions for foreign nations purchasing Iranian oil.

Libya’s Sarraj seeks Europe’s help to stop Haftar assault

Libya’s internationally recognised government said Monday its head Fayez al-Sarraj will tour Europe to seek support against an attack on Tripoli by strongman Khalifa Haftar, who urged his troops to “wipe out” government forces. Sarraj, who heads the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, will on Tuesday start a series of meetings with the leaders of Italy, Germany, France and possibly Britain, the foreign ministry said. The visit to France – where Sarraj’s government said he would meet President Emmanuel Macron — comes after the GNA repeatedly accused Paris of politically backing the assault which Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) launched on Tripoli on April 4.