Happy 241st Birthday and Thank You @USMC! #HappyBirthdayMarines

Posted: 6:19 pm PT
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USG Supports Japan Relief Efforts Following Kyushu Earthquakes, Also What’s This Mystery Foam?

Posted: 12:02 am ET
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USGC reported the April 14 and 15 earthquakes that hit the island of Kyushu:

The April 15, 2016 M 7.0 earthquake north of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan, occurred as the result of strike-slip faulting at shallow depth. Focal mechanisms for the earthquake indicate slip occurred on either a left-lateral fault striking to the northwest, or on a right-lateral fault striking northeast. While the earthquake occurred several hundred kilometers northwest of the Ryukyu Trench, where the Philippine Sea plate begins its northwestward subduction beneath Japan and the Eurasia plate, the shallow depth and faulting mechanism of this earthquake indicate it occurred on a crustal fault within the upper Eurasia plate. At the location of this event, the Philippine Sea plate converges with Eurasia towards the northwest at a velocity of 58 mm/yr.

The April 15, 2016, M 7.0 event (UTC 16:25:06) occurred one day after a series of foreshocks in the same region, which included M 6.2 and M 6.0 earthquakes. The April 14 events resulted in at least 9 fatalities and over 800 injuries.

According to the US Consulate in Fukuoka which covers the consular district, the Kyushu/Yamaguchi Region of southwestern Japan consists of seven prefectures on Kyushu Island (Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima) and Yamaguchi prefecture on the southern tip of Honshu, with a combined population of over 15 million. The region’s $435 billion economy constitutes Japan’s fourth largest economic center, representing about 10 percent of national GDP – comparable in size to the Netherlands.

The US Embassy in Tokyo issued one Emergency Message to U.S. citizens saying in part that “Kumamoto is approximately 730 miles southwest of Tokyo. Authorities report nine confirmed deaths and as many as 1,000 injured. Local authorities report no U.S. citizens among the casualties. No tsunami warning was issued. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported several aftershocks, some of which exceeded 5.0 magnitude. Aftershocks may continue for up to a week. Heavy rains are expected in the region over the coming weekend, which may lead to landslides.”

U.S. Forces Japan announced that the Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, over the weekend to assist with recovery efforts in support of the Government of Japan’s relief efforts. According to the DOD release, the U.S. military support is provided at the request of the Government of Japan and is in support of efforts undertaken by the Japanese Self Defense Force.

Japan Times reported that a cabinet secretary said there [are] no abnormalities at nearby nuclear facilities. The epicenter was 120 km (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, the only one operating in the country.  The Asahi Shimbun quotes Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying, “Under the current circumstances, there is no need to stop the plant because (the shaking) is sufficiently low.”

Meanwhile, in Fukuoka, motorists and pedestrians have reported seeing white foam on the streets after the quakes:

 

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Malian National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Murder U.S. Diplomat Stationed at US Embassy Niger

Posted: 2:20 am ET
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In September 2013, we blogged about Malian national Alhassane Ould Mohamed who was indicted for the 2000 murder/attempted murder of US Embassy Niger staffers. On March 24, 2016, USDOJ announced that Alhassane Ould Mohamed, aka Cheibani, 46, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiring to murder a U.S. diplomat stationed in Niamey, Niger, on December 22, 2000. William Bultemeier was a DOD civilian employee and retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant. He was deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger in July 2000 where he served as the Defense Attache Systems Operations Coordinator. He was murdered the day he was supposed to return home to North Carolina 15 years ago.

Photograph of William Bultemeier via

Photograph of William Bultemeier via USDOJ

Via USDOJ:

Alhassane Ould Mohamed, aka Cheibani, 46, a citizen of Mali, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of New York to conspiring to murder a U.S. diplomat stationed in Niamey, Niger, in December 2000.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI New York Field Office.

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2000, Mohamed and a co-conspirator accosted a group of employees of the U.S. Embassy in Niger as they left a restaurant in Niamey.  Carrying a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle, the two men approached Department of Defense official William Bultemeier as he was about to enter his car, which displayed diplomatic license plates clearly indicating that it belonged to the U.S. Embassy.  After demanding that Bultemeier turn over the keys to the diplomatic vehicle, the defendant and his co-conspirator shot Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, the Marine Detachment Commander for the U.S. Embassy in Niger at the time, who had run to Bultemeier’s aid.  Mohamed and his fellow assailant then drove away in the U.S. Embassy vehicle.

Bultemeier died of the injuries inflicted by the gunshot wounds.  Staff Sergeant McNeely survived the shooting and later retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant.

Today’s plea took place before U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II of the Eastern District of New York.  At sentencing on April 26, 2016, as part of the agreement, the defendant faces an agreed-upon sentence of 25 years in prison.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Margaret Lee and Melody Wells of the Eastern District of New York with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The unsealed Grand Jury indictment is available to read below:

 

 

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US Embassy Libya Evacuation of July 26, 2014 – In Photos

Posted: 12:35 am EDT
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In the early morning of July 26, 2014, the State Department suspended all embassy operations in Libya and evacuated all its staff overland to Tunisia, due to ongoing violence between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the embassy in Tripoli (see State Dept Suspends All Embassy Operations in Libya, Relocates Staff Under Armed Escorts). The photos below are from that evacuation via Diplomatic Security’s photo collection:

July 26, 2014: A portion of the embassy motorcade takes a roadside break along a desert highway in western Libya. Some 70 U.S. Government personnel and 85 U.S. Marines in 34 U.S. Embassy armored vehicles traveled more than 500 miles across desert and mountain terrain to the safety of neighboring Tunisia. (Source: U.S. Department of State)

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July 26, 2014:  U.S. Marines prepare an MV-22B Osprey vertical-takeoff tiltrotor aircraft for departure from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy to assist with the relocation of U.S. Embassy personnel from Tripoli, Libya amid intense fighting between rival Libyan militias. The aircraft was part of a contingent of U.S. air assets, comprised of two Ospreys, an in-air tanker, and two fighter jets, that provided security support for the operation. (Source: U.S. Marine Corps)

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July 26, 2014: A Diplomatic Security technical specialist walks across the tarmac of the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy after a long day’s journey through desert, mountains, and over the Mediterranean Sea. He was among some 70 embassy staff and 85 Marines who evacuated the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli earlier in the day, following weeks of escalating battles between heavily armed rival militias in the Libyan capital. (Source: U.S. Department of State)

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