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First US cruise liner in more than 50 years leaves Miami for Cuba

US passengers have set sail from Miami on a Cuba-bound ocean liner. It's the first cruise ship in decades to depart from a US port for the communist island nation since the thaw in US-Cuba relations. Carnival's Havana-bound cruise ship Adonia got underway at 4:24 p.m. (2024 UTC) Sunday, ferrying more than 700 passengers from Florida to Cuba. Restarting cruises ship connections is an important element of a bid by US President Barack Obama's administration's initiative to increase tourism to Cuba, after last year's historic decision to restore diplomatic relations and move toward normalization. "Times of change often bring out emotions and clearly the histories here are very emotional for a number of people," Carnival CEO Arnold Donald told reporters. "To be a part of truly making history and preparing for an even more positive future for everyone is one of the greatest honors any company can have," Donald added. The ship will visit three Cuban ports over the seven-day voyage. Carnival said the Adonia will cruise every other week from Miami to Cuba. US embargo still in place Uncertainty over whether the cruise would be allowed to happen was resolved last week when the Cuban government lifted restrictions for seaborne visits of Cuban nationals to and from the United States, opening the door for Cuban-Americans to board the ship. The cruise company initially refused to accept reservations from such people, because of Cuban restrictions first imposed when the island's Communist regime feared landings by anti-Castro militants. That prompted charges of discrimination amid a firestorm of criticism. But the world's leading tour ship operator eventually relented and began to allow reservations from Cuban-born customers. Among them was 61-year-old Isabel Buznego who as a youngster emigrated with her family from Cuba and was returning to the island for the first time. "My dad wanted to come because he had never been able to come, but he passed away," she told the AFP news agency. "So I'm coming in his name. That is why I have so many different emotions, but I am mostly happy." The Miami Herald newspaper reported that a boat carrying activists protesting the trip to Cuba was nearby in Florida waters before the ship's departure on Sunday. But the paper said the boat pulled away before the Adonia set sail, with an expected Monday arrival in Havana.

US passengers have set sail from Miami on a Cuba-bound ocean liner. It’s the first cruise ship in decades to depart from a US port for the communist island nation since the thaw in US-Cuba relations. Carnival’s Havana-bound cruise ship Adonia got underway at 4:24 p.m. (2024 UTC) Sunday, ferrying more than 700 passengers from Florida to Cuba. Restarting cruises ... Read More »

Florida man charged in alleged ‘Islamic State’ beach bomb plot

US authorities have charged a man, described by the FBI as an "Islamic State" (IS) sympathizer, with plotting to set off a nail-filled backpack bomb. Harlem Suarez allegedly praised the jihadi group on Facebook. The 23-year-old Floridian was first brought to the attention of American authorities after a Facebook user contacted police, claiming that Suarez had tried to recruit them to support IS. The FBI said Suarez listed his Facebook "likes" as "Jihadist," "Extraordinary Prayer for ISIS," and "Prayers for ISIS: Weapons of our Warfare." In April, Suarez allegedly posted, "be a warrior, learn how to cut your enemies head and then burn down the body learn how to be the new future of the world Caliphate" - a reference to IS' aim to build a regional fundamentalist entity. He later added a request "from any brother. How to make a bomb send me a video or something, what do I need to make it." Remote-controlled bomb Suarez allegedly later paid a cooperator to construct a telephone-controlled bomb which he intended to bury on Floridas Key West beach and detonate. "I can go to the beach at the night time, put the thing in the sand, cover it up, so the next day I just call and the thing is gonna, is gonna make, a real hard noise from nowhere," Suarez allegedly told an FBI source in a recorded call. The terror suspect was arrested Monday after taking possession of an inert explosive device provided by an FBI informant. During his first court appearance on Tuesday, Suarez' temporary attorney, Richard Della Fera, said in an email that he "may be a troubled and confused young man, but he is certainly not a terrorist." Allegations 'taken seriously' The FBI said Suarez also unsuccessfully attempted to order an AK-47 assault rifle on the Internet and sought to make an IS recruitment video which. According to the complaint, the footage was eventually recorded under FBI surveillance at a motel. "American soil is the past, we will destroy America and divide it in two, we will rais(e) our black flag on top of your white house and any president on duty (cut head)," Suarez said in a script he wrote himself for the video. According the FBI complaint, however, there was no evidence that Suarez ever actually made an explosive, nor that he had contact with any IS militants overseas. Miami's FBI special agent in charge, George Piro, said the allegations had to be taken seriously nonetheless.

US authorities have charged a man, described by the FBI as an “Islamic State” (IS) sympathizer, with plotting to set off a nail-filled backpack bomb. Harlem Suarez allegedly praised the jihadi group on Facebook. The 23-year-old Floridian was first brought to the attention of American authorities after a Facebook user contacted police, claiming that Suarez had tried to recruit them ... Read More »

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