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Report: Russia behind Venezuela's cryptocurrency

President Donald Trump at a White House meeting. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Russian government officials and businessmen helped Venezuela launch the world's first state-issued cryptocurrency last month, which is intended to help sidestep U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, TIME reports, citing anonymous officials familiar with the issue.

The backdrop: TIME's report comes a day after President Trump signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. citizens from buying the newly created 'Petro.’

The details: An unnamed Russian state bank executive, who handles cryptocurrencies matters, said senior government advisers have overseen the Venezuela plan, which President Vladimir Putin signed off on last year.

  • TIME also reports that Maduro’s Russian advisers, Denis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky, who both have major ties to Russian banks and billionaires, were at the launch of the digital currency last month.

The Russian government denied TIME's report, with the Finance Ministry saying none of Russia's financial authorities were involved in the petro's creation. Venezuelan officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper with the TIME investigation.

Haley Britzky 7 hours ago
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Extremist with ties to 9/11 captured by U.S.-backed Syrian forces

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand guard on a rooftop.
Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces stand guard on a rooftop in Raqa on October 20, 2017. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German extremist who is believed to have links to the 9/11 attacks, is being questioned by the Syrian Democratic Forces, NBC reported Wednesday, citing an AFP report, and CNN confirmed on Thursday.

Why it matters: Per CNN, Zammar "is believed to have recruited some of the perpetrators" for the 9/11 attacks. Zammar was "a well-known figure in the Muslim community (and to German and U.S. intelligence agencies by the late 1990s)," the 9/11 Commission Report stated, according to NBC. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN that Zammar "was captured more than a month ago by SDF partners as part of their ongoing operations to defeat ISIS inside Syria."

Dave Lawler 10 hours ago
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Trump and Kim's summit of surprises

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Mike Pompeo's secret visit to Pyongyang is the latest in a series of dramatic events in the run-up to the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. It’s almost certainly not the last.

The big picture: "Part of this is normal, but we've got a wacky situation here," says Jim Walsh, an international security expert at MIT who has taken part in previous negotiations with North Korea. When it comes time to present a "final package," he adds, "surprises won't fly."