National Security Brief: Hostages Reportedly Killed In Siege On Algerian Kidnappers

Unconfirmed reports emerged early on Thursday that the Algerian military killed armed attackers who on Wednesday took control of a gas-field in north eastern Algeria and took a few dozen hostages, including Americans and other Westerners. At least some of the hostages were reportedly killed as well. The attackers reportedly took over the gas facility in retribution to the French military assault on Islamic extremist in northern Mali. Reuters has live updates here.

In other news:

  • The Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now issued a report on Wednesday claiming that since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took office in March, 2009, “its policies and actions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem disclose a clear intention to use settlements to systematically undermine and render impossible a realistic, viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Read the report here.
  • U.S. officials on Wednesday discounted a report that the Syrian military used chemical weapons on its own people. “At the time we looked into the allegations that were made and the information that we had received, and we found no credible evidence to corroborate or to confirm that chemical weapons were used,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
  • A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that attorneys prosecuting Army Pfc. Bradley Manning must prove that he intended to aid American enemies when he leaked hundreds of thousands of secret government documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
  • Former aides to Chuck Hagel shot back at critics who have alleged that the Defense Secretary has “temperament” issues. “It’s just perplexing for me to think that Sen. Hagel might be viewed through the lens of having treated staff poorly,” a former staffer told Defense News.