Sep 9, 2018

CIA reportedly expanding its drone program in Africa

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Under President Trump, the CIA is set to broaden its drone operations in Africa to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS insurgents, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: The Obama administration had attempted to hand over the use of lethal drone flights to the U.S. military in order to increase transparency amid backlash from foreign diplomats and military officials over the accidental killings of civilians.

The details: The CIA has had limited missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen, per the Times. Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo changed the agency's drone policy last year, citing a need for more counterterrorism efforts. Under the expansion, a new air base has been carved out at a small commercial airport in Niger to target Islamist militants in southern Libya.

  • An American official told the Times that the CIA hasn’t launched lethal drone missions from Niger yet, though it's likely to do so in the near future.
  • However, a Nigerien security official told the Times he had concluded that the CIA carried out an armed drone strike in July from the base. Maj. Karl Wiest, a spokesperson for Africa Command, denied that claim to the Times.

Go deeper

Trump threatens to "assume control" of Minneapolis over unrest

Flames from a nearby fire illuminate protesters standing on a barricade in front of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis on Thursday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump threatened via Twitter early Friday to send the national guard to Minneapolis following three days of massive demonstrations and unrest in the city over George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week.

Details: "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right," Trump tweeted after a police station was torched by some protesters.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters cheer as the Third Police Precinct burns behind them on in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Cheering protesters set a Minneapolis police station on fire Thursday night in the third night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in the city, per AP.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week, as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has a single novel coronavirus case after reporting a week of no new infections, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday local time.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 357,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.6 million.