Eye on the World 4/6/20

Two dead in France after knife attack prompts terror inquiry

French authorities have officially opened a terror investigation following a knife attack on April 4, which left two dead and five wounded. The attack took place in the southeast region of France, at a small shop located in Romans-sur-Isère, near the city of Lyon. The attacker entered the store, stabbing the owners and a customer, then continued to attack bystanders until police arrived. The man was apprehended by French authorities while kneeling in prayer on the pavement at the scene of the attack. At least two others have been arrested in connection with the attack, which was perpetrated by a 30-year-old Sudanese refugee.

The man was not previously known by French authorities, however, a search of his home indicated religious radicalization, which motivated the attack. He was taken into custody on charges of assassination, attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise as well as criminal terrorist association. These charges were announced under the French government’s “high terror alert” declaration; France initiated this high alert status in 2015 following a series of attacks by the Islamic State in 2015.

Pakistan overturns 18-year-old conviction of man who killed WSJ reporter

In 2002, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was found guilty of murdering Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl. On Thursday, that conviction was overturned by the Sindh province court, a court that has already overturned the convictions of three others convicted in the same case. The court instead charged Saeed with the kidnapping of Pearl, a crime carrying a seven-year prison sentence: a penalty that, with Saeed’s 18-year stint on death row, means the British Pakastani man would walk free barring a government appeal. However, a government prosecutor said they do intend to make an appeal to the Pakistani Supreme Court to reinstate the original conviction.

Pearl was kidnapped while investigating connections between Pakastani militants and Richard Reid, the man eventually known as “the shoe-bomber.” Prosecutors at the time said Saeed lured Pearl into a trap promising a lead on his story before kidnapping and beheading Pearl. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement stating that they were “deeply disappointed to see justice in the murder case of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl denied by a Pakistani court.”

US promises to lift Venezuela sanctions, outlines plan for government transition

The United States announced it will lift economic sanctions on Venezuela if both Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó agree to step aside and cede executive power to a five-person governing council during a transitionary period. The plan comes after Guaidó, who 60 countries recognize as the rightful leader of Venezuela, proposed a similar offer over the weekend.

The plan would allow the current military high command, the body that normally mediates political disputes in the country, in office until at least the presidential and parliamentary elections that the plan would schedule 6-12 months from its formal acceptance. The five-person governing council until then would include four members from the National Assembly and an interim president as the fifth member and would need a two-thirds majority to make decisions. Neither Maduro nor Guaidó would be on the council but the U.S. plan would allow Guaidó to run for president in the eventual elections.