World Headlines
Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(MANCHESTER, England) -- After information and photos from the scene of the bombing at the Manchester Arena were leaked by U.S. media, the mayor of the city called them arrogant and disrespectful.

"I felt sick to the pit of my stomach," Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham told ABC News in an interview, describing his reaction to seeing crime scene photos published on The New York Times website.

Burnham, a former rising star in the Tony Blair Labour Party who was elected mayor this month, said he thought the leak, which revealed images from the bloodied crime scene, was especially distressing to victims' families. Burnham said he has been to the crime scene, which he called a "harrowing experience," but he said the families of the victims have not had that chance yet.

"To see pictures of it not even in the media here," he told ABC News. "It was a pretty, pretty tough thing to see."

Burnham said he thinks the leak is "wrong, it is arrogant, and it is disrespectful to the people of Greater Manchester and particular to the families of those injured during this, our darkest hour."

The New York Times said in a statement that the images and information it published "were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes, as The Times and other media outlets have done following terrorist acts around the world, from Boston to Paris to Baghdad, and many places in between. Our mission is to cover news and inform our readers. We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories. Our coverage of Monday’s horrific attack has been both comprehensive and responsible."

Twenty-two people were killed in Monday night's suicide bombing, including a female police officer and an 8-year-old girl.

Salman Abedi, 22, the suspected suicide bomber, died at the scene of the attack.

Burnham said that after the name of the suspected bomber first leaked to the U.S. media, he personally called the acting U.S. ambassador to Britain and said he was assured that the leaks would stop.

"I've raised my concerns all week about the leaking of information to U.S. media outlets," Burnham said, "I communicated it personally ... to the acting ambassador here who understood my concerns and said it would stop."

But "it hadn't stopped," he added, calling that "unacceptable."

Burnham said the lead of the investigation should have control over the release of information so it is not compromised.

"I don't want a diplomatic row with my friends in the United States of America. We're longstanding allies," he said. "We want to work together on the same basis of trust that we've always worked."

The mayor's message to the U.S. government is "this must stop immediately," calling the leaks "morally wrong."

Burnham said a statement that he believes the U.S. government should issue an apology.

"I'm not blaming the American public," he said. "However I do look to the president and his senior team to make it clear that this is unacceptable."

Shortly after Burnham's interview with ABC News, President Trump released a statement saying, "The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling. These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security. I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday that progress was being made in the investigation into Monday's attack, but reiterated that the national threat level is still at critical -- meaning that an attack could still be imminent.

Eight people are in custody in Britain in connection with the investigation, including one of the suspect's brothers, according to a security official. Another one of the suspect's brothers and the suspect's father have been detained in Libya.

Burnham said the investigation is targeting a terror "network" in Manchester and added that those arrested in Britain were previously known to authorities.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said Thursday, "I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant, and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation."

"These searches will take several days to complete, as you would expect, therefore there will be some disruption," he said. "However, it is important that we continue with these searches."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) — Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it's "not fair" to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they're supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

Trump has been a vocal critic of NATO. “NATO is obsolete, it’s old, it’s fat, it’s sloppy,” he said out on the campaign trail.

The president's Brussels meeting with the leaders is his fourth stop on his inaugural overseas trip. Monday night's deadly terrorist attack in Manchester brings new urgency to the summit, where the fight against terror was already a key item on the agenda.

Ahead of the meeting, White House officials stressed that the president would continue pressing members of NATO to adjust their defense spending to meet the Wales pledge — at least two percent of their GDP.

During the campaign, the president cited cost-sharing and what he believed as NATO's lack of focus on terrorism as reason for calling it "obsolete."

"What I'm saying is NATO is obsolete," Trump told ABC in an interview in March of 2016, "and it's extremely expensive for the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO. And it's going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism or we're going to have to set up ... a new coalition."

Trump backtracked on his campaign rhetoric following his inauguration, declaring in an April 11 press conference alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that his mind had changed about the alliance.

"I said it was obsolete," Trump said. "It's no longer obsolete."

Trump offered his sharp criticism at the unveiling of a memorial at the entrance to NATO with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The memorial includes a section of the steel wreckage of the World Trade Center towers, which recognizes the Article 5 collective defense treaty which was activated following the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

PETER BYRNE/AFP/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, England) -- Queen Elizabeth II visited a children’s hospital Thursday in Manchester, England and met with young survivors of the deadly blast that killed 22 people after an Ariana Grande concert.

The queen, wearing an orange hat and carrying a black clutch, arrived at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Thursday morning after the U.K. held a national moment of silence for the victims of the blast.

The 91-year-old monarch met with some of the hospital’s nurses and doctors and visited the hospital rooms of survivors, including a 15-year-old girl who was wearing an Ariana Grande T-shirt and surrounded by balloons and stuffed animals.

Queen Elizabeth asked the girl, identified as 15-year-old Millie Robson, if she had enjoyed the show. Millie told the queen she met Grande backstage before the concert.

The Monday night blast at Manchester Arena killed at least 22 people and left dozens injured. The blast, which occurred in the venue's foyer, came at the conclusion of Grande’s concert, just after pink balloons had fallen from the arena's ceiling.

Grande's audience at Manchester Arena was mostly young people, many of them teens and pre-teens wearing the singer's signature bunny ears. The queen called it "very wicked" to "target that sort of thing."

Queen Elizabeth also met with a 14-year-old girl and her parents, and a 12-year-old girl and her mom. The queen told one of the families it was "very interesting how everybody has united" in the wake of the attack.

She also met with a mother who was injured while waiting for her 12-year-old daughter at the concert. The woman, identified as Ruth Murrell, told the queen her daughter attended the concert with a friend. The friend’s mother died in the blast.

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital has 371 beds and is the "largest single-site children's hospital in the U.K.," according to its website.

The queen issued a statement quickly after the attack, saying, “The whole nation has been shocked.”

“I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured,” the statement read.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As climber fatalities continue to rise at the peak of Mount Everest, experts are questioning if the already high risk of climbing the world's tallest mountain combined with unusually high numbers of climbing permits has made the quest too perilous.

"Everest has enough dangers as it is," Dr. Kenneth Kamler, the author of Surviving the Extremes, said. "You don't need to add that additional danger of waiting in line."

The bodies of four climbers were recovered from a tent on the highest camp on Mount Everest this week, authorities said, bringing the death toll to 10 for this season.

The camp was located in an area known as "the death zone," located at over 26,000 feet, where oxygen measures one-third normal levels.

"Altitude is not natural to the body," Kamler said. "The body can't acclimatize to an altitude higher than about 18,000 feet. Beyond that your body just deteriorates."

"The conditions are harsh," David Keaveny, a medical operations specialist at Global Rescue told ABC News. "Ten to twenty-five below zero, steady winds over 60 mph."

But, he believes the 700-plus climbers he has observed on the mountain are an even larger threat. Keaveny has already flown 50 rescue missions to Everest this season.

Kamler, who has made several attempts at reaching the summit of Everest, told Good Morning America Thursday that this rising combination of altitude and overcrowding is presenting a huge challenge.

"Your metabolism slows down like a smoldering fire and you lose your energy, you lose your ability to think clearly. That leads to all kind of secondary problems," Kamler said.

The biggest issues at Everest include altitude sickness, frostbite, falls, avalanches — and, now, overcrowding.

Kalmer said in addition to the number of people, climbing to the summit of Everest has "become a trophy for a lot of people, they're not really mountaineers."

"You shouldn't attempt Everest unless you've done a lot of other mountaineering and have really proven to yourself that you can do that kind of thing relatively safely," he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, England) — Searches are ongoing as authorities investigate Monday's suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people.

Eight men are in custody in connection with the attack and police said those arrests have been important.

"I want to reassure people that the arrests that we have made are significant," Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins said Thursday, "and initial searches of premises have revealed items that we believe are very important to the investigation."

"These searches will take several days to complete, as you would expect, therefore there will be some disruption. However, it is important that we continue with these searches," Hopkins said." We are now carrying out associated searches at a number of addresses."

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday that progress was being made in the ongoing investigation, but reiterated that the national threat level was still at critical -- meaning that an attack could still be imminent.

After a meeting with the British government's COBRA crisis committee, May said "the public should remain vigilant."

Salman Abedi, 22, the suspected suicide bomber, died at the scene of the bombing.

Authorities found what was described to ABC News as a bomb-making workshop in Abedi's home in Manchester, with enough chemicals to build several additional bombs.

A brother of Salman Abedi, Hashem Abedi, was detained in Libya after the attack. Libyan authorities had been following Hashem Abedi for a month and a half because of suspected links to ISIS, said Ahmed Dagdoug, the spokesman for Libya's counterterror forces.

During interrogation, Hashem Abedi revealed that he knew his brother was going to carry out an attack, but he did not know where or when, Dagdoug said.

Hashem Abedi also revealed that he knew exactly how the bomb was made, Dagdoug said, and that he believes that Salman created the device by himself. He said that he provided some assistance to his brother, but added no specific details about how.

Dagdoug said a network was involved in planning the attack.

The brothers came to Libya on April 18 and Salman Abedi departed on May 17, Dagdoug said, but it's not clear at this time if Salman went to Syria.

Salman Abedi's father, Ramadan Abedi, was also arrested in Libya.

Dagdoug told ABC News that the two brothers do consider themselves to be members of ISIS and said that they had been studying ISIS videos online, including instructional videos that teach the viewer how to make a bomb.

Another one of the suspect's brothers, 23-year-old Ismail Abedi, was arrested in Manchester, a security official confirmed to ABC News.

On Wednesday, Hopkins said, "This is clearly a network that we are investigating, and extensive activity is taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak."

The U.K. Metropolitan Police said Wednesday that 1,000 additional armed officers have been freed up to carry out patrols across the U.K.

"The extra officers add to a wider policing plan which sees increased patrolling at crowded places, iconic sites and transport hubs as police and partners do everything they can to protect the public," the police said.

A moment of silence was held this morning to remember the 22 victims, which included a female police officer and an 8-year-old girl.

As the nation mourns, Queen Elizabeth II visited victims and hospital personnel at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Thursday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel P. Jackson Norgart/Released(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of a disputed Chinese manmade island in the South China Sea on Wednesday, the first such challenge to a Chinese maritime claim to take place under the Trump administration.

According to a U.S. official, the destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef on Wednesday conducting a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP), said a U.S. official. The reef is one of seven artificial islands in the Spratly Islands that China has claimed as its territory after building up reefs that at times had previously been under water.

In recent years, China dredged massive amounts of sand and earth to build up the reefs into artificial islands that now include airfields and other facilities that could be used by China's military.

The U.S. military's freedom of navigation operations challenge excessive maritime claims made by countries worldwide by sailing within the 12-mile territorial limits that extend from shore.

Wednesday's freedom of navigation operation near Mischief Reef was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The move is sure to antagonize China, which has reacted negatively to previous freedom of navigation operations in the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands, two island chains in the South China Sea. The last time the U.S. military conducted such an operation near a disputed island in the South China Sea was in October under the Trump administration.

Without confirming Wednesday's freedom of navigation operation, Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said, "We operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. We operate in accordance with international law."

"We fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," added Davis. "We have a comprehensive Freedom of Navigation Operations program that seeks to challenge excessive maritime claims in order to preserve the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law."

He added that the operations are not directed at any one country or specific bodies of water. In 2016, the United States conducted challenged the excessive maritime claims of 22 countries including allies and partners.

"We are continuing regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future," said Davis.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) -- President Donald Trump will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday with heads of state from all 28 members, despite his past criticism of the alliance.

On the campaign trail and as president-elect, Trump repeatedly called NATO "obsolete," raising doubts about whether the United States, under his leadership, would help defend its NATO allies in Europe if Russia attacked them.

But during a press conference at the White House with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in April, he reversed course and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the organization.

"The Secretary General and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism," Trump said. "I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete; it's no longer obsolete."

Trump has advocated that the alliance take on an increased role in the fight against ISIS. Stoltenberg said last week that NATO members were discussing that decision, though no combat troops would be deployed, he said.

So, what exactly is NATO? ABC News breaks down the organization’s history, importance and criticisms.

What is NATO?

NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a security alliance established in 1949 during the early days of the Cold War to counter Soviet aggression in Europe.

Now numbering 28 countries in Europe and North America, the alliance’s goal is to “safeguard the freedom and security of its members through political and military means,” according to its website.

The organization promotes “democratic values” and encourages member nations to work together on issues of defense and security to prevent long-term conflict.

When security disputes occur, NATO advocates peaceful resolutions. There are guidelines for the use of military force, outlined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the founding treaty of NATO.

NATO adheres to a policy of collective defense, meaning an attack on one member is considered "an attack against all." The policy is outlined in Article 5 and has only been invoked once, after the Twin Towers in New York City were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and NATO members sent troops to Afghanistan.

After the Taliban fell, a United Nations Security Council resolution established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), under NATO’s control, to stabilize the country. There were 1,044 non-U.S. NATO service members killed fighting in Afghanistan.

How does NATO work?

Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, each member nation is represented by an ambassador that sits on the North Atlantic Council (NAC), the alliance’s political decision-making body. The NAC meets at least once a week and is chaired by Secretary General Stoltenberg, the former prime minister of Norway.

When political decisions require military involvement, NATO’s Military Committee helps plan the military elements needed for an operation. While NATO has few permanent military forces, member nations can voluntarily contribute forces when the need arises.

The Military Committee is made up of the Chiefs of Defense of NATO member countries; the International Military Staff, the Military Committee’s executive body; and the military command structure, composed of Allied Command Operations and Allied Command Transformation.

Where is NATO operating right now?

Currently, NATO’s website lists five active operations and missions: Afghanistan, Kosovo, securing the Mediterranean Sea, supporting the African Union, and policing airspace.

Who pays for NATO?

NATO recommends that member countries spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

Only five members meet that goal: the United States, Great Britain, Greece, Estonia and Poland.

Trump has brought that shortfall front and center in his comments about the alliance. In a January interview with The Times of London, Trump mentioned the five, saying, "There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much."

It's an issue that Secretary General Stoltenberg has embraced, saying in April's press conference that fair burden-sharing has been his "top priority" since taking office.

"We have now turned a corner," Stoltenberg said. "In 2016, for the first time in many years, we saw an increase in defense spending across European allies and Canada -- a real increase of 3.8 percent or $10 billion more for our defense."

"We know that we all need to contribute our fair share because we need to keep our nations safe in a more dangerous world," he added.

What is the history behind its origin?

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed April 4, 1949, in the aftermath of World War II and rising geopolitical tension with the Soviet Union.

NATO’s website lists three purposes for its creation: “deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.”

As the Cold War settled in, NATO stood in opposition to the Soviet bloc, communist nations allied with the Soviet Union.

In 1991, after the Soviet Union dissolved, NATO developed partnerships with former adversaries.

NATO had its first major crisis response operation in 1995, after the Bosnian civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More recently, NATO responded to the Libyan crisis in 2011 by carrying out airstrikes to protect civilians under attack by the Gaddafi regime.

Who are the critics of NATO?

Trump isn’t the first U.S. official to criticize other NATO members for contributing less than the United States.

In 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the future of NATO “dim” if other nations didn’t increase their participation in allied activities.

“The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress -- and in the American body politic writ large -- to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense,” he said.

Gates made the comments prior to Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and escalating regional tension there.

NATO’s history is fraught with waves of other criticism, often in moments of relative peace. After the fall of the Soviet Union, critics alleged that a European alliance was no longer necessary to counter communist governments. But militant nationalism was still occurring and soon NATO was put to the test with the Balkan Wars. Indeed, changing security threats have consistently pushed NATO to evolve over the past 60 years.

Even Trump acknowledged the importance of the alliance in April, saying, "NATO allies defeated communism and liberated the captive nations of the Cold War. They secured the longest period of unbroken peace that Europe has ever known."

"This enduring partnership rooted out of so many different things, but our common security is always number one," Trump said, "and our common devotion to human dignity and freedom."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(MANCHESTER, England) -- In the wake of a devastating bombing in Manchester that killed at least 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert, officials and parents alike were grappling with the news that many of the injured and killed were young adolescents or children.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called the bombing a "sickening attack" that targeted children and young people "who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives."

"We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherished but as an opportunity for carnage," May said Tuesday.

According to the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care, a total of 119 people were taken by ambulance or went to a hospital following Monday night's attack at Manchester Arena. Officials said 64 were being treated as of Wednesday and 20 of them remained in critical condition across Greater Manchester.

At least 12 children under the age of 16 were seriously injured, officials said. An 8-year-old girl who died from her injuries is the youngest known victim in the attack.

Saffie Rose Roussos

Among the dead is Saffie Rose Roussos, described by her teacher as a "beautiful little girl."

Saffie had become separated from her mother and sister during the attack.

Chris Upton, the headteacher at the Tarleton Community Primary School, where Saffie was a student, released a statement calling the girl's death a "tremendous shock."

"I would like to send our deepest condolences to all of her family and friends," Upton said. "The thought that anyone could go out to a concert and not come home is heartbreaking. Saffie was simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly. Saffie was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair."

Upton said the school will be calling in specialists to help students and staff cope with Saffie's death.

Georgina Callander

Runshaw College confirmed that the 18-year-old college student was among the victims.

"It is with enormous sadness that it appears that one of the people who lost their lives in Monday’s Manchester attack was one of our students here at Runshaw College," school officials said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Georgina Callander was a former Bishop Rawstorne pupil studying with us on the second year of her Health and Social Care course. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers go out to all of Georgina’s friends, family, and all of those affected by this loss."

Olivia Campbell

"RIP my darling precious gorgeous girl Olivia Campbell taken far far to soon go sing with the angels and keep smiling mummy loves you so much," Olivia's mother, Charlotte Campbell, wrote on Facebook.

 Prior to learning that her 15-year-old daughter had been killed in the attack, the teen's mother pleaded for the public to help her locate her daughter, telling the BBC, "I’m worried sick. If anybody has seen her please contact the police. Contact somebody let her know you’ve seen her. Even if you think you’ve seen her just let the police know ... We’ve not slept. We’ve got family out looking for her. Please, please somebody must have seen her at some point. Just let me know you’ve seen her. Let the police know, let anybody know you’ve seen her please."

Lisa Lees

The 43-year-old mother and grandmother was also among those killed. One of her daughters, Lauren Ashleigh Lees, described her as "a very elegant person" and "an amazing" mother, grandmother and wife who was "absolutely adored" by everyone around her.

"She cared so much for everybody and did anything for them," Lauren Ashleigh Lees said in a statement. "We will pull together as a family and help each other through the darkness."

Nell Jones

The ninth-grader was confirmed to have died in the attacks by her school, Holmes Chapel Comprehensive and Sixth Form. The girl's family had searched for her after she attended the concert, but the teen died at the scene, according to her school's headteacher Denis Oliver.

"We are all devastated by the loss and as a school community we must now come to terms with what has happened," Oliver said in a statement.

The school plans on bringing in professional support to help teachers and students grieve.

 Nell's form tutor David Wheeler called the teen "always smiling."

“Nell was a very popular girl, always smiling, always positive," Wheeler said in the statement. "Her tutor group have been together since the transition from primary school. It feels like they have lost a sister not a classmate”

Another student at the school, Freya Lewis, was hospitalized after the attack. Her father told the school that the teen is recovering after having been in surgery for over 10 hours.

Martyn Hett

Hett's employer, Rumpus PR, confirmed his death in a statement, calling Hett "larger than life, colourful and charismatic."

Paul Evans, managing director of Rumpus PR, said Hett was a "talented writer, creative thinker and social media expert."

"Words really can’t express how much he will be missed by colleagues and clients alike," Evans said in a statement. "Martyn loved life and I hope his lasting legacy is that people -- in these dreadful times -- choose to live their lives with joy not hate, just like he did."

Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry

In a statement, the teens' families said, "They were perfect in every way for each other and were meant to be."

"They wanted to be together forever and now they are."

Tribute from the family of Chloe Rutherford, 17, and the family of Liam Curry, 19

— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 24, 2017

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Subscribe To This Feed

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- First lady Melania Trump paid a visit to Bambino Gesù children's hospital in Rome on Wednesday, spending her time coloring with patients, snapping selfies, signing bandages and even speaking to them in Italian.

“My visit to Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital today was very moving," the first lady said in a statement. "To spend time speaking to and coloring with children who have such a positive spirit despite illness was an amazing gift. The time I spent with the little ones in the Intensive Care Unit is something I will never forget, and I will pray for each of them daily. I want to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital, who all do such beautiful and critical work.”

Trump also shared a moving story about a young boy who was just informed he received a heart transplant, adding that she visited with the boy just hours prior.

“Upon landing in Belgium, I learned a young boy and his family who had been waiting for a heart transplant was informed that the hospital has found a donor," she said. "I read a book and held hands with this special little one just a few hours ago, and now my own heart is filled with joy over this news.”

A little boy who I visited today & had been waiting for a heart transplant will be receiving one! #Blessings #Faith

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) May 24, 2017

The hospital, owned by the Catholic Church and founded in 1869, is the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe. The first lady personally wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking to visit the hospital, a spokesperson said.

Princess Diana and Mother Teresa are among those who have visited Bambino Gesù hospital.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a security warning about a potential threat posed by a group it referred to as a "terrorist organization."

"The embassy is aware of a potential threat posted on a website by the Hassm group, a known terrorist organization, suggesting some kind of unspecified action this evening," the embassy said in a security message. "The embassy has no further information about this potential threat but is in contact with Egyptian authorities."

Hassm is described as "a non-Salafi revolutionary jihadist group" that uses "violent insurgency tactics against Egyptian security forces, which they refer to as occupiers," according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a digital database of research and analysis focused on terrorism.

Hasam is a splinter group of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist organization and political party, according to TRAC.

The message urges Americans living in Egypt to follow security guidelines provided by the State Department for dealing with possible threats.

"U.S. citizens should continue to follow sound security practices and adhere to the security guidelines provided in the travel warning for Egypt issued by the State Department on Dec. 23, 2016," according to the message.

Additional information will be provided if it becomes available, the message said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Authorities tell ABC News that they found a kind of bomb-making workshop in Salman Abedi’s home and he had apparently stockpiled enough chemicals to make additional bombs.

The hunt is intensifying for what British authorities suspect is a possible “network” behind the deadly suicide blast outside an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday, officials say.

The search stretched from the U.K. to Libya, where officials made multiple arrests in a country seen by American officials as a burgeoning new base of operations for ISIS, which has claimed Salman Abedi was a "soldier of the Caliphate."

Counterterrorism officials fear whoever built the bomb that killed 22 people and injured more than 50 others may have built other improvised-explosive devices which could be used in further attacks.

“I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” Ian Hopkins, chief constable of the Greater Manchester Police, said in a press briefing.

According to a terrorism expert who has been briefed on the investigation, the bomb featured a sophisticated design similar to the bombs used in the attacks in Brussels in 2016.

The expert confirmed that Abedi traveled to Manchester Arena by train, likely carrying the bomb in a backpack. The device, a metal container stuffed with bolts and nails, was apparently hooked to a powerful battery and featured a remote, cell-phone detonator with built-in redundancies to ensure a blast even if a first attempt failed.

The design was sophisticated enough to bolster the theory that Abedi didn’t act alone, suggesting, according to the expert, “there’s a bomb maker on the loose.”

"It's really suggesting that he probably did not act alone, that he probably had some help, that he certainly had some advice on how to create the bomb," said Matt Olsen, former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center and an ABC News contributor.

 A western counterterrorism official told ABC News hours after the attack that British-born Abedi had only days earlier returned from an extended trip to his ancestral Libya, which has seen large towns under ISIS control in the past two years.

Libyan authorities Wednesday arrested both the bomber’s father, Ramadan, and the bomber's younger brother Hashim. Ramadan told Reuters that Salman was not a member of any terror group, but a spokesperson for Libyan special forces told ABC News that, following his arrest, Hashim admitted his involvement in the plot and told authorities that he and Salman consider themselves members of ISIS.

Hashim knew his brother was planning a suicide attack, the spokesperson said, but he didn’t know the time or place or target. According to the spokesperson, Hashim said he and Salman had been studying ISIS videos online since 2015, including videos offering instruction on how to make a bomb.

British officials expressed anger at American security officials over the leak to U.S. news media of Abedi's name hours after the attack, when they already realized he might have accomplices they needed to locate as fast as possible to prevent more lives being lost in a followup attack, one senior western official told ABC News.

Past plots to successfully attack Paris and Brussels were hatched by core-ISIS in its Syria stronghold Raqqa, but counterterrorism investigators believe Abedi dropped out of university in Manchester this year and visited Tripoli "to get some skills" from the terror group's operatives there. If true, it would be the first core-ISIS plot hatched from outside Syria and possibly signals a significant shift.

The U.S. military's Joint Special Operations Command has gradually increased its operations in Libya, killing the top ISIS leader last year in an airstrike and other senior leaders there.

The U.K. has raised its threat level and deployed troops including elite anti-terrorism commandos of the Special Air Service.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Vatican Pool/Getty Images(ROME) — President Donald Trump and Pope Francis exchanged gifts Wednesday following their cordial, private meeting at the Vatican that lasted about 30 minutes.

In standard practice, the pope gave rosaries to the president's visiting U.S. delegation, including first lady Melania Trump and the president's son-in-law and daughter, White House advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The pope gave the president a large medal by a Roman artist, inscribed with an olive branch — a symbol of peace.

Pope Francis also gave Trump this year's "message of peace" with a personalized inscription he had written.

"We can use peace," Trump said. "That's so beautiful. Thank you."

Other gifts from the pope include his three writings on the topics of family, the joy of the gospel and "care of our common home, the environment," which the pope said he gives to all Catholics.

Included in these three writings is Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si," in which he calls for global action to combat climate change.

"Well I'll be reading them," Trump said after receiving the gifts.

In return, President Trump gave Pope Francis a set of books by civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presented in a custom, hand-made display case.

"I think you will enjoy them," Trump told the pope.

The first-edition collection includes Stride Toward Freedom, The Measure of a Man, Why We Can’t Wait, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? and The Strength to Love, which has Dr. King's signature.

According to the White House, each book is "custom-bound and accented with gold hand-tooling."

In addition to the books, Trump gave the pope a piece of the Dr. King monument, the Stone of Hope, engraved with a quote, and a hand-made bronze sculpture of a floating lotus by a Florida artist titled "Rising Above." The sculpture represents "hope for a peaceful tomorrow" the White House said.

Before parting ways, President Trump thanked the pontiff and said, "I won't forget what you said."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(ROME) — President Donald Trump discussed terrorism with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, in a highly anticipated first meeting between the two leaders that went longer than scheduled.

According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the pope and Trump had "pretty extensive conversations around extreme terrorist threats and extremism and radicalization of young people."

"That's one of the reasons the meeting apparently went long," Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One flying to Brussels, the next leg of Trump's foreign trip. "They got into quite a good conversation about it."

Tillerson said, "We did have a good exchange on the climate change issue" with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, but added that he didn't know if Trump and Francis discussed the topic.

Parolin encouraged "continued participation" in the Paris Climate Agreement, according to Tillerson.

Tillerson said Trump still has not made up his mind whether he'll withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 deal.

"The president indicated we're still thinking about that, that he hasn't made a final decision. He, I think, told both Cardinal Parolin and also told Prime Minister [Paolo] Gentiloni that this is something that he would be taking up for a decision when we return from this trip," Tillerson said.

According to a statement from the Vatican, the pope and the president held "cordial discussions" that included "an exchange of views on various themes relating to international affairs and the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities."

"It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants," the statement reads.

Later in the day, during his meeting with the Italian prime minister, Trump said his meeting with Francis was "great."

"He is something," Trump said of the pontiff. "We had a fantastic meeting."

He added, "We're liking Italy very, very much, and it was an honor to be with the pope."

After their private one-on-one meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, Trump and Francis exchanged gifts in front of reporters and the president's visiting delegation, which included his wife, Melania Trump; his daughter Ivanka Trump; his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; Tillerson and other White House advisers.

The president gave the pope a case of books by Martin Luther King Jr., and the pope gave Donald Trump a medal by a Roman artist, inscribed with an olive branch.

Francis explained that the branch is a symbol of peace, and Trump replied, "We can use peace."

The pope also presented Trump with three books that he said he sends to all Catholics: one on family, one on the Gospels and one on "care of our common home, the environment."

"Well, I'll be reading them," Trump said.

The visit to the Vatican was the third stop of Trump's tour of sites representing three major religions. Over the weekend, he stopped in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered an address to Muslim leaders, and Monday through Tuesday he visited Israel and the West Bank and met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Trump and Francis certainly had differences to iron out during their meeting. In February 2016, the pontiff remarked on then-candidate Trump's key proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, saying it was not Christian.

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian," Pope Francis said.

Trump responded with a statement calling Francis' remarks "disgraceful."

"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith," Trump said. "They're using the pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves — that's the Mexican government — they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant and so dangerous and so bad for the United States."

Asked recently what he expected from his meeting with Trump, given their differing views, Francis replied, "I will tell him what I think. He will tell me what he thinks. But I never wanted to judge someone before I listen to the person first."

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(MANCHESTER, England) — The frantic search for clues about Salman Abedi, the suspected Manchester Arena bomber, and his possible connections to ISIS is underway.

Police say they conducted a pair of raids on Tuesday, one in the Whalley Range neighborhood, in which they scoured the suspect’s home, the other in nearby Fallowfield, which police said included a “controlled explosion to enable safe entry.” Authorities also took one man, identified by neighbors as the bomber’s older brother, into custody outside a local grocery store.

The portrait emerging of the alleged bomber, who is believed to have detonated an improvised explosive device that killed him and 22 people and injured dozens more outside an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, is one of a potentially disaffected young man who grew up in an area identified as a hotbed for jihadi recruitment.

Abedi, 22, was described as the son of a family who emigrated from Libya and, according to Robin Simcox, a terrorism and national security analyst at The Heritage Foundation, one of the hundreds of young men known to British counterterrorism authorities as potential threat.

“Abedi was a terrorist suspect in the U.K., MI5 were aware of him,” Simcox told ABC News. “They were aware that he posed a potential threat but they didn’t think he posed an imminent threat that he proved himself to do in Manchester.”

A photo of Abedi was first published on the front page of the British newspaper The Sun.

In recent years, Abedi took business classes at the University of Salford in Manchester, where he registered for classes this year, a university spokesperson told ABC News, but hasn’t attended any classes and was not well-known socially.

A senior counterterrorism official told ABC that one reason Abedi may have dropped out of college is because he recently traveled outside the United Kingdom to Libya and possibly other countries, "it seems, to get some skills,” though Syria did not appear to be one of his destinations.

Abedi, the official said, was on the radar of British security officials but time ran out on the surveillance clock without Abedi doing anything nefarious, so authorities apparently moved on. It is unknown, the official added, whether Abedi made the device on his own or if he had help.

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of the local Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, where Abedi sometimes worshipped, told ABC News that Abedi became angry with him after he gave a sermon in 2015 in which he criticized ISIS.

"He was showing me hate, he hated me basically," Saeed said. "I was shocked, shocked and angry. All innocent lives matter.”

The neighborhood, around an area called Moss Side, just a few miles from the concert hall, is considered by police to be a hot bed of ISIS recruitment, according to Dr. Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, the research director of the program on extremism at The George Washington University.

“Moss Side is very well known,” Hitchens told ABC News. “A lot of people with petty criminal pasts, involvement in gangs, getting involved instead with ISIS later on.”

According to Matt Olsen, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and an ABC News contributor, the most pressing questions have yet to be answered.

“The investigators need to focus and are focused on who else may be involved, where did this individual learn to build a device like this, to carry out an attack like this,” Olsen said. “The real question is, is there a cell that goes beyond this individual.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Subscribe To This Feed, England) -- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday the threat level in the region has been raised from severe to critical following Monday's attack in Manchester.

Critical is the highest of the five threat levels. Soldiers will now be deployed at public events and police officers responsible for guarding key sites will be replaced by armed military officers. Military officers may also be deployed at key events.

The change indicates that another attack may be imminent.

May said the U.K. could not ignore the possibility that more individuals are linked to the Manchester Arena attack.

The man suspected of carrying out the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert was identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, police said Tuesday. At least 22 people died and more than 50 were injured in the blast.

Abedi died at the scene after using an improvised explosive device, officials said. Police are still trying to determine if he acted alone or was part of a group.

The suspect was originally identified as a 23-year-old male according to a source; police have now said the suspect was 22.

A 23-year-old man has been arrested in South Manchester in connection with the attack, police said. Police also said authorities executed two warrants as part of the investigation: one in the Whalley Range district of Manchester and one in the Manchester suburb of Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place.

Greater Manchester Police are requesting dashcam footage from "anyone who was in Manchester city centre" between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Monday night as part of their investigation.

A 39-year-old man was also arrested in Birmingham Tuesday near a vigil for the attack. The man is "known to police and is thought to have a history of mental ill-health," Birmingham police said in a statement. A small ax and large stick were recovered at the vigil, police said.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the explosion. In a statement translated from Arabic, ISIS said that a "soldier of the caliphate" placed explosives at a gathering of "crusaders" — meaning Christians — at the Manchester Arena. The statement said about 30 people were killed and about 70 more were wounded.

The explosion is being treated as a terrorist attack.

Greater Manchester Police said officers were called to the Manchester Arena just before 10:35 p.m. local time on Monday. The explosion happened near the arena's foyer after the concert, according to witnesses, who reported hearing a bang as they exited.

An 8-year-old girl named Saffie Rose Roussos is among those killed.

Twelve children under the age of 16 were seriously injured, officials said.

"We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not as a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage," May said Tuesday.

Witness Joseph Harries told ABC News' "Good Morning America" that "people were just trying to get out of the arena as fast as they possibly could after the blast. I was directly in front of the stage at the heart of the arena. I had exactly the same distance to get out of any of the doors."

"I had my best friend with me and I grabbed hold of her wrist and told her never let go of me," Harries said. "We just ran, we jumped over chairs, railings to get out of the doors, we had to force open doors that wouldn’t open because people were trying to get to – the entire capacity of the 20,000 person arena were trying to get out of one exit."

"It felt like an eternity," Harries said, but it "couldn’t have been more than two, three minutes from in our seats to outside of the arena."

The Greater Manchester Police tweeted Tuesday that officials do not believe there are any unaccompanied children at Manchester-area hotels.

A U.S. State Department official told ABC News Tuesday that the "U.S. Embassy in London is working to determine if any U.S. citizens were affected," adding, "at this time, we are not aware of any U.S. citizens killed or injured."

"The whole nation has been shocked," Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement. "I know I speak for everyone in expressing my deepest sympathy to all who have been affected by this dreadful event and especially to the families and friends of those who have died or were injured."

"I want to thank all the members of the emergency services, who have responded with such professionalism and care," the queen continued. "And I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded, with humanity and compassion, to this act of barbarity."

A spokesperson for the Manchester Arena tweeted Tuesday, "Last night, our community suffered a senseless tragedy. Our entire team’s thoughts and focus are now on supporting the people affected and their families.

"We are assisting the police in any way we can. We cannot praise the emergency services enough for their response and have been inspired by the way the people of this great city of Manchester rallied round last night and have continued to respond Tuesday. It shows the very best of this city."

— Manchester Arena (@ManchesterArena) May 23, 2017


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.