eyes on the U.S.

At Least 28 Dead At Elementary School In One Of Worst Massacres In U.S. History

Twenty of the victims are reportedly children. The gunman, a son of a kindergarten teacher at the school, killed himself.

In the aftermath in Newtown, CT
In the aftermath in Newtown, CT
Michael Kelley and Abby Rogers

A gunman killed 27 people — including 20 kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, — and then shot himself.

The school shooting is one of the worst in history.

The gunman, identified as Adam Lanza, was reportedly wearing all black, a mask and a bullet-proof vest while carrying Glock and Sig Sauer 9mm handgun. A .223 Bushmaster rifle was found in his car.

The 20-year-old reportedly shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was a kindergarten teacher at the school, while firing dozens of rounds in two rooms before shooting himself in the kindergarten classroom.

CNN reported the principal and a school psychologist were killed in the shooting, which was reported at 9:41 a.m. The News York Times' Libor Jany also cited witnesses who are saying the school's principal was killed.

News reports detailed heroic acts by teachers, including one who physically stood in front of the door to keep it shut and protect her students.

First-grade teacher Kaitlin Roig told ABC News she locked her students and herself in the bathroom and was so intent on keeping them alive she initially refused to unlock the door for the police, fearing the gunman was trying to trick her into opening the door.

Following the shooting, Police were "questioning a handcuffed suspect in connection with the Newtown school shooting," the Connecticut Post tweeted. A witness told Jany that a man "was led out of the woods by police in handcuffs." Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance told reporters that there was only one shooter.

It was initially reported that Adam's brother, 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, was the shooter and a couple of media outlets broadcast his picture on air before retracting the report.

The confusion may have been caused by the fact that the shooter was carrying his older brother's ID, Reuters' Matthew Keys tweeted around 4 p.m. on Friday. The Associated Press reports that a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers' first names.

Police are questioning Ryan Lanza, who is reportedly not a suspect.

Ryan Lanza told friends that he thinks his developmentally disabled brother may have committed the crime, according to Patch. A source told The New York Post Ryan told investigators he last saw Adam in 2010 and that Adam is autistic.

Neighbors described the younger man to ABC as “odd” and displaying characteristics associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

USA Today reports that the police found another adult male at a Newtown home owned by Nancy and Peter Lanza.

A senior law enforcement official told CNN says that one of the shooter's brothers was found dead in a home searched in Hoboken, New Jersey, but CNN now reports that no body found there.

Here is President Barack Obama's statement after the shooting:

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Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

Military parade in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 3


LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.

The role of the nuclear pact

Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.

It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.

He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."

The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.

Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.

Photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020


Riyadh's warming relations with Israel

Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."

The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."

Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."

Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.

If nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.

Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.

Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.

For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.

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