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Federal prosecutors charge Japanese Yakuza leader in nuclear material trafficking conspiracy

U.S. prosecutors have charged a man identified as a leader of the Japanese organized crime syndicate Yakuza with conspiring to traffic nuclear materials from Myanmar to other countries, according to a superseding indictment announced Wednesday.

Authorities said they brought the charges against Takeshi Ebisawa after he and other associates in Thailand allegedly showed samples of nuclear material to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent posing as a narcotics and weapons trafficker.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release that the U.S. worked with Thai authorities to seize the nuclear samples, which were subsequently transferred to U.S. law enforcement custody.

A U.S. nuclear forensic lab confirmed the samples contained uranium and weapons-grade plutonium, according to the DOJ.

Federal prosecutors stressed the significance of the charges against a leader of the Yakuza, a crime syndicate that operates in multiple countries around the world.

“Ebisawa’s criminal activities have included large-scale narcotics and weapons trafficking, and his international criminal network extends through Asia, Europe, and the United States, among other places,” the indictment states.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York said in a statement it’s “impossible to overstate the seriousness of the conduct alleged in today’s Indictment.”

“As alleged, Takeshi Ebisawa brazenly trafficked material containing uranium and weapons-grade plutonium from Burma to other countries. He allegedly did so while believing that the material was going to be used in the development of a nuclear weapons program, and the weapons-grade plutonium he trafficked, if produced in sufficient quantities, could have been used for that purpose,” Williams said.

“Even as he allegedly attempted to sell nuclear materials, Ebisawa also negotiated for the purchase of deadly weapons, including surface-to-air missiles,” Williams stated.

According to the indictment, the undercover DEA agent agreed to broker the sale of the nuclear materials from Ebisawa to an associate posing as an Iranian general.

Ebisawa has been charged along with another defendant who was also previously accused of international narcotics trafficking and firearm offenses in 2022. The pair will be arraigned before a judge Thursday afternoon.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said the defendants allegedly offered the nuclear material “fully expecting that Iran would use it for nuclear weapons.”

“This is an extraordinary example of the depravity of drug traffickers who operate with total disregard for human life,” Milgram said in a statement.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen similarly warned of the potential danger if the nuclear material had actually been sold.

Olsen said Ebisawa was allegedly conspiring to sell the nuclear material from Myanmar “and to purchase military weaponry on behalf of an armed insurgent group.”

“It is chilling to imagine the consequences had these efforts succeeded, and the Justice Department will hold accountable those who traffic in these materials and threaten U.S. national security and international stability,” Olsen said.

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Navalny's mother goes to court over officials' refusal to release son's body

Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, filed a lawsuit demanding authorities release her son’s body as she continues her effort to urge Russian officials to let her bury her son with dignity.

The lawsuit was filed in the Arctic city of Salekhard and challenges the refusal to grant her access to her son’s remains, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing Russian state media agency TASS.

A closed-door hearing on the matter will be March 4, per the AP.

The lawsuit comes days after Russian officials announced Navalny died after losing consciousness on a walk at the country’s highest-security prison near the Arctic Circle. Since then, Navalnaya has worked to secure the release of her son’s body.

An aide for Navalny said Monday that his mother and lawyers were notified by investigators that they would not give them the body.

“The body will be under some sort of ‘chemical examination’ for another 14 days,” Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said.

On Tuesday, Navalnaya posted a video outside the Arctic penal colony where her son died Friday and appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene and turn the body over to her.

“For the fifth day, I have been unable to see him. They wouldn’t release his body to me. And they’re not even telling me where he is,” Navalnaya said in the video. “I’m reaching out to you, Vladimir Putin.”

“The resolution of this matter depends solely on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexei’s body is released immediately, so that I can bury him like a human being,” she added.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, has also pushed for the release of his body and vowed Monday to take up her late husband’s work to fight against corruption in Russia.

President Biden and other US allies have directly blamed Putin for Navalny’s death, which was confirmed by the family over the weekend.

“Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible,” Biden said Friday. “What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled.”

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White House announces new actions to mitigate cybersecurity threats at US ports

The White House on Wednesday announced four new actions that aim to boost the cybersecurity of U.S. ports as a way to support supply chains.

First, President Biden will sign an executive order that will bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to address maritime cyber threats, Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, announced.

The order will give the Coast Guard the authority to respond to malicious cyber activity by requiring maritime transportation vessels and facilities to boost their cybersecurity. And, vessels and facilities will be required to institute mandatory reporting of cyber incidents. 

Second, the Coast Guard will issue a notice of proposed rule-making to establish minimum cybersecurity requirements that meet international and industry-recognized standards to best manage cyber threats. The administration also announced it will invest over $20 billion into US port infrastructure over the next five years.

Additionally, the Coast Guard will enhance a maritime security directive regarding the security of ports aimed to impose cybersecurity requirements on the owner and operations of Chinese-manufactured cranes.

Chinese-manufactured cranes made up nearly 80 percent of cranes at U.S. ports and could be designed to be controlled, serviced, and programmed from remote locations, according to the Coast Guard.

Neuberger will announce the actions at a White House event on Wednesday in Virginia, which is part of the administration’s Investing in America tour that involves officials fanning across the U.S. to highlight President Biden’s economic agenda.

She told reporters that officials have been working on this executive order for 18 months and it ties to particular concerns about Chinese cyber activities, as well as criminal threats.

When asked about what the punishment is for not complying with the new directives, officials said after the notice of proposed rule-making and public comments are received, they will define enforcement.

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White House: Johnson not serious about backing allies after he claimed Biden called for cease-fire

The White House called Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) not serious about backing the United States’s allies after the Speaker released a statement claiming President Biden called for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Johnson’s statement Tuesday had the subject line, ‘Biden’s Call for Cease-fire is Disgraceful,’ and highlighted that the Biden administration called for a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas and opposed Israelis moves into Rafah.

Johnson said Biden “is responding to political pressure from opponents of Israel” as it gets closer to November’s election and has scaled down his support for Israel with a “shocking step” to back a temporary cease-fire.

“It’s unfortunate that Speaker Johnson is attacking those efforts and continuing to play politics with Israel while he blocks the aid President Biden requested to help Israel defend itself against Hamas and Iranian-backed militias at the same time that he obstructs other crucial priorities like protecting Ukraine from Putting and Tehran,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

The U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution proposed by Algeria earlier Tuesday that called on Israel to implement a cease-fire against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, arguing the vote was “wishful” and “irresponsible” because it would put negotiations to release the hostages in peril.

Bates said the resolution the Biden administration then introduced at the Security Council was an alternative text that calls for a temporary cease-fire and the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

“If Speaker Johnson were serious about backing our allies, he would cancel the two-week vacation he’s enjoying and call a vote on pressing national security legislation that already passed the Senate with bipartisan support,” Bates said.

The U.S. was the only permanent member of the Security Council to use its veto power to kill the resolution proposed by Algeria. The U.K., another permanent member, abstained.

The Biden administration has been involved in months of negotiations for a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas to release the hostages taken during the deadly attacks on Oct. 7. Biden this month said the U.S. is working to broker a deal that could lead to a six-week pause in fighting, after it worked to reach a deal in November that led to a weeklong pause in fighting and the release of more than 100 hostages.

Additionally, the U.S. has backed Israel’s move into Rafah, but only if a plan is created to keep civilians safe. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he ordered his military to draft a plan to evacuate civilians before the invasion into Rafah, which borders Egypt and is the only location where humanitarian aid is entering Gaza consistently.

The president and Netanyahu have increasingly grown apart publicly about the direction of the war, with Biden continually asking Israel to be mindful of civilian casualties and calling Israel’s response in Gaza “over the top.”

And Netanyahu earlier this month rejected Hamas’s proposal for a hostage deal, which would have secured the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a pause in fighting and other hard-line conditions. The framework laid out called for the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza.

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Walmart is buying TV maker Vizio in play for ad business

Walmart will acquire the television maker Vizio for $2.3 billion, the retail chain announced Tuesday.

The retailer said in a press release that the acquisition of Vizio and its smart TV operating system, SmartCast, will help grow Walmart’s media business by “bringing together VIZIO’s advertising solutions business with Walmart’s reach and capabilities.”

“There is a lot to be excited about with this acquisition,” Seth Dallaire, Walmart’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer, said in a statement. 

“We believe VIZIO’s customer-centric operating system provides great viewing experiences at attractive price points,” he added. “We also believe it enables a profitable advertising business that is rapidly scaling.” 

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon also touted the Vizio acquisition on a company earnings call Tuesday for providing “the opportunity to reach and serve customers in new ways and connect more dots for those that advertise with us.”

The retailer had a strong fourth quarter, its latest earnings report showed, with revenue up 6 percent from last year to $648.1 billion.

Vizio CEO William Wang described the acquisition as “the ideal next chapter” in the company’s history.

“Walmart’s approach is aligned with VIZIO’s mission and vision, and our technology will help bring a scaled, connected TV advertising platform to Walmart Connect,” Wang said in a statement. 

“This transaction delivers immediate and compelling value to VIZIO stockholders and is a true testament to the hard work of the entire VIZIO team,” he continued.

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Putin flexes as Ukraine battles US gridlock 

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be growing increasingly bold amid U.S. inaction over the war in Ukraine, crushing dissent at home, advancing in Ukraine and acting more brazen with his nuclear ambitions. 

In the past week, Russia made its first significant gain in Ukraine in months, as Republicans continue to block Ukraine aid in Congress, opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in prison, and the U.S. warned that Moscow is preparing to launch a nuclear weapon into space. 

Putin has also waded into American politics and public life, sitting down with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this month for a rare interview with a western journalist, while saying he’d prefer to see President Biden win in November. 

Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, said Putin and Russia are “returning to a position of confidence” previously held at the start of the war — mostly because of the holdup on U.S. aid to Ukraine. 

“Because of the political hostage taking in the United States, Russia can be confident at this point that its prospects are going to improve,” he said, though he cautioned that Moscow has been overconfident in the past, including before invading Ukraine. 

“Of course, most of those are based on what’s playing out in U.S. domestic politics, which are Russia’s greatest opportunity to make gains in its war on the West and of course, ultimately, to challenge the United States,” he added. 

Russia gained a notable victory last week when forces took the city of Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, giving Russia a foothold on the frontlines. Moscow is pushing to take the rest of the Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk to solidify control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. 

Ukraine’s military says it inflicted more than 47,000 casualties on Russian soldiers since its offensive on Avdiivka began in October. 

Still, the city is a strategic loss for Ukraine’s forces in the region, said Col. Serhiy Grabskyi, a reservist in the Ukrainian military and a military expert.

 “We were able to attack the Russian positions, command and control posts, transportation facilities” from Avdiivka, he said. The city  “is a big advantage for Russians to use in a full capability.” 

The city is also symbolic, a prominent Russian objective since Kremlin-backed separatists began fighting against Ukrainian soldiers in 2014.

Grabskyi said he feared that Russia could also use Avdiivka as “Russian propaganda” and to boost the “energy of Russian society to support Kremlin policy.” 

And taking Avdiivka delivers Putin a victory ahead of the Russian president’s elections, said Oleksandr Musiienko, the head of Ukrainian think tank Center for Military and Strategic Studies. 

“He needed some success in some sectors before his election in March,” he said. 

More worrying for Ukraine has been the delay in U.S. aid to Kyiv, with another package increasingly uncertain due to obstruction from House Republicans. 

Part of Moscow’s strategy is to wait out the war, entrenching Russian forces in the roughly 18 percent of territory they hold and waiting for western allies to crack in supporting Ukraine to make more advances. 

President Biden said on Monday he was not confident that another city would not fall because of the aid holdup. 

“The Ukrainian people have fought so bravely and heroically.  They’ve put so much on the line,” Biden said. “And the idea that now when they’re running out of ammunition, we walk away — I find it absurd.  I find it unethical.  I find it just contrary to everything we are as a country.” 

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Russia’s taking of Avdiivka will not translate into any immediate wider progress, with Ukrainian soldiers taking up defensive positions not far from the fallen city. 

But Russia is taking advantage of the delays in Ukraine support, ISW warned. “Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the frontline in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces along multiple axes.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend that skeptical politicians must stop asking how long the war will take but “why is Putin still able to continue it?” 

“If we don’t defeat Putin now, it won’t eventually matter who is the president of Russia,” Zelensky said. “Because every new Russian dictator will remember how to maintain power by annexing the lands of other peoples, killing opponents, and destroying the world order.” 

From the Kremlin’s point of view, it may appear like the cracks in U.S. support are finally starting to widen, said Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute. But he cautioned that Moscow is also aware Ukraine support generally remains strong, despite it being caught up in domestic fights over border policies. 

“Putin must be smart enough to know that the lack of U.S. aid to Ukraine isn’t a result of a change in mindset in Washington,” he said. ”It’s a result of politics being played in Washington. On Capitol Hill, a vast majority of Republican [and] Democrat members support arming Ukraine.” 

Putin also further asserted his power at home last week with the death of Navalny, who died in an Arctic prison in Siberia on Friday after three years of imprisonment. 

Biden quickly blamed Navalny’s death on Putin, as did the late opposition leader’s wife and supporters.  

Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote that Navalny, known for his exposés of Kremlin corruption, posed not an electoral threat to Putin but an existential one.  

His death, Kolesnikov added, puts Putin “beyond competition,” especially after the Russian leader tweaked the constitution to allow him to effectively rule for life. 

“Power has not only been preserved, it is absolute,” Kolesnikov wrote. “Those who remain silent will keep their mouths firmly closed, and those who support the regime will only do so even more loudly and aggressively.” 

Amid the growing tensions with the West, Putin has ramped up nuclear weapons testing and shattered arms control treaties. 

Washington said last week that Moscow is developing a new type of space capability, which reports indicate is a nuclear weapon. Putin has denied plans to launch a nuclear anti-satellite weapon into space.

Such a weapon would pose a major threat to satellites used by countries across the entire world, including in Russia, for communications and GPS.  

If deployed, the weapon would allow Putin to threaten NATO on another front, part of his campaign of nuclear saber rattling, or to take out Ukrainian and U.S. satellites supporting the war effort. 

Giles, from Chatham House, said the new space weapon seems bold but was likely “brewing for a long time.” 

“Russia has not suddenly magicked a space weapon out of nowhere,” he said. “These are long-standing programs, about which I think we can assume Western intelligence services were well informed.” 

Still, the political and tactical successes seem to have affected Putin’s mood for the better. Putin once again appeared for an annual media roundtable discussion at the end of 2023, after canceling the event in 2022 amid Ukrainian battlefield successes. 

In remarks on Sunday carried by state media, Putin claimed his interview with Carlson indicates the Russian perspective is gaining traction across the globe, despite Russia remaining largely isolated across the globe. 

Putin said the interview was “linked with the desire of very many people in our country and around the world to get an alternative perspective and know the truth.” 

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Ukrainian ambassador to US: All Russian banks must be sanctioned to stop 'war crimes'

Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said on Tuesday the U.S. should take bold steps in its forthcoming sanctions package, including targeting all Russian banks.

Asked by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell whether she thinks the sanctions package, previewed by the White House on Tuesday, will have “some real teeth,” Markarova called on the U.S. to “be bold” and demonstrate that democratic countries are united against Russia and its “war crimes.”

“We have to toughen and deepen the sanctions that already are introduced,” she said, “and frankly, we just have to be bold, and we have to sanction all Russian banks, and we have to do something more.”

“Not only to deny them the right to make money to continue this,” she continued, “but to show that actually the isolation of Russia is going to be a real thing, if they do not stop all their war crimes. You know, they have been killing people in Russia and outside of Russia for all the time since the breakup of the Soviet Union. It’s about time we all tell them stop.”

The White House announced on Tuesday that a major sanctions package against Russia will come Friday and will aim to “hold Russia accountable” for the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny’s death sparked global outcry among U.S. allies, and Biden has blamed Putin for Navalny’s death in a prison in Russia. He told reporters last week the White House is “looking at a whole number of options right now” as to how to respond.

Markarova stressed the importance of democratic allies showing unity at this moment and to push toward further isolating Russia.

“We have to toughen the sanctions we have to double down on isolating Russia in all international fora. We have to do everything possible to send a very clear message that we all democratic countries are united, and we also are ready to take decisions, and these decisions are going to be painful for Russia.”

Markarova’s remarks also come as Congress struggles to pass Biden’s request for foreign aid, which he made more than four months ago and which included aid for Ukraine, Israel and allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The Senate passed a new aid package last week, but Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said he would not bring it to the House floor for a vote.

Markarova said in the interview specifically that Ukrainians “count on” the continued support from the House. She also thanked the U.S. for the aid provided over the last two years, which she said has been effective and will continue to be effective at defeating Russia, as long as it continues for a little longer.

“I just want to thank the American people and President Biden and Congress on a very strong bipartisan basis, on all the support that we have received during this two years,” she said.

“And that support works,” Markarova added. “So let’s continue doing what works. Let’s do a little bit more. And let’s stop it before he attacks another country, before he does more destruction in Ukraine, before he tortures more innocent people in Ukraine and before he kills more people in Russia.”

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Putin denies plans to send nuclear weapon into space

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday pushed back against the United States’s claims that he plans to deploy a nuclear weapon into space.

“We have always been categorically against and are now against the deployment of nuclear weapons in space,” Putin said Tuesday during a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Bloomberg. “We are doing in space only what other countries have, including the United States.”

Concerns over Russia’s possible nuclear ambitions in space were hoisted into the spotlight last week following a cryptic warning from House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who called on President Biden to declassify information on a “serious national security threat.”

White House spokesperson John Kirby said last week the weapon was “related to an anti-satellite capability that Russia is developing,” while noting the system has not yet been deployed. The Biden administration has held back from sharing additional details about the weapon.

The U.S. reportedly has told allies Russia could deploy a nuclear weapon or a mock warhead into space as early as this year, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The anonymous sources said Russia is working on a capability that would be based in space and could take out other satellites with a nuclear weapon.

Shoigu maintained Tuesday that there were no plans for a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon, Reuters reported.

“Firstly, there are no such projects — nuclear weapons in space. Secondly, the United States knows that this does not exist,” Shoigu told Putin, per the news wire. 

Shoigu alleged the White House was using the warning to push U.S. lawmakers into securing more funds for Ukraine in its fight with Russia, per Reuters. Aid for Ukraine has been left in limbo in Congress amid opposition from some Republicans, and demands for sweeping immigration reform from House GOP leaders.

The defense minister also suggested the leak about Russia’s space aims was part of an effort to push Moscow into discussing strategic stability, the news wire added.

The Hill reached out to the White House for comment. 

A nuclear weapon in space would violate the Outer Space Treaty, signed by Russia and the U.S. in 1967. It is not immediately clear what consequences Russia could face for violating the treaty, though Susi Snyder, a program coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told The Hill last week the first step would likely include action at the United Nations Security Council.

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UN agency halting food deliveries to northern Gaza, citing increasing chaos

The United Nations’s World Food Program (WFP) said Tuesday it is pausing deliveries to northern Gaza due to the inability to ensure the safety and security of its staff, a move likely to compound starvation amid Israel’s war on the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger,” a news release from the WFP reads.

“WFP is deeply committed to urgently reaching desperate people across Gaza but the safety and security to deliver critical food aid — and for the people receiving it — must be ensured,” the release continued.

Another United Nations agency, UNICEF, published a study this week that found 1 in 6 children younger than 2 years old in northern Gaza are malnourished. Three percent of that group are experiencing wasting, which means being severely underweight for their age and height.

The WFP said it resumed deliveries Sunday following a three-week suspension due to a strike on a U.N. relief truck and “the absence of a functioning humanitarian notification system.”

The agency said it was sending 10 trucks with food each day for a week in an attempt to “stem the tide of hunger and desperation and to begin building trust in communities that there would be enough food for all.”

But as it started on its route to Gaza City, “the convoy was surrounded by crowds of hungry people close to the Wadi Gaza checkpoint.”

“First fending off multiple attempts by people trying to climb aboard our trucks, then facing gunfire once we entered Gaza City, our team was able to distribute a small quantity of the food along the way,” the WFP’s release said. “On Monday, the second convoy’s journey north faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order.”

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Younes and Deir al Balah and a truck driver was beaten,” it added. “The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger.”

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Dearborn mayor slams Biden on Israel-Gaza: 'This betrayal feels uniquely un-American'

Mayor Abdullah Hammoud (D) of Dearborn, Mich., says Arab Americans are feeling a sense of betrayal due to President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, outlining that they voted for Biden in 2020 but are now being ignored.

Hammoud, in a New York Times opinion piece Tuesday, said there is a “constant fear and mourning” and “a visceral sense of betrayal” in Dearborn, a Detroit suburb where Arab Americans make up the majority of the population.

“In the past three federal elections, Arab American voters in Michigan have become a crucial and dependable voting bloc for the Democratic Party, and we were part of the wave that delivered for Joe Biden four years ago,” he said. “But this fact seems long forgotten by our candidate as he calls for our votes once more while at the same time selling the very bombs that Benjamin Netanyahu’s military is dropping on our family and friends.” 

He said that before the war, he believed Biden was “one of the most consequential and transformative presidents,” but said that landmark legislation Biden has passed can’t “outweigh the more than 100,000 people killed, wounded or missing in Gaza.”

“President Biden is proving many of our worst fears about our government true: that regardless of how loud your voice may be, how many calls to government officials you may make, how many peaceful protests you organize and attend, nothing will change,” he said. “My greatest fear is that Mr. Biden will not be remembered as the president who saved American democracy in 2020 but rather as the president who sacrificed it for Benjamin Netanyahu in 2024.”

Hammoud argued that the majority of Americans want a cease-fire in the Middle East and that the president and members of Congress are ignoring polling on that.

“This betrayal feels uniquely un-American. When conflict shoved them out of their homes, many of Dearborn’s parents fled to Michigan in pursuit of the American dream and the promise that their voices would be heard and valued. Today, we instill in our children the American aspiration of standing on the side of justice for all people, everywhere,” he said.

The op-ed was published a week before the Michigan Democratic primary. There’s a growing movement among progressive groups and Arab American grassroots organizations in Michigan urging supporters to cast their ballot for “uncommitted” in order to send a message to Biden.

Some groups in the effort say they will never support Biden — even against his likely GOP rival former President Trump, who famously called for a Muslim ban during the 2016 race — while others involved say the president has time to earn their vote back.

Hammoud met with White House officials when they traveled to Michigan earlier this month and said he told them that there is time to do the right thing. He argued that the “only way to ensure the safe return of all hostages and prisoners is through an immediate cease-fire.”

But the White House has argued that a cease-fire would only help Hamas and has worked on negotiating a temporary pause in fighting for Hamas to release the hostages it took during the Oct. 7 attacks.

The U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution Tuesday that called on Israel to implement a cease-fire against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, arguing the vote was “wishful” and “irresponsible” because it would put negotiations to release the hostages in peril.

Hammoud earlier this month ordered an increase in security across Dearborn after an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal called the city “America’s jihad capital.”

Biden called out the “anti-Arab hate” against Dearborn after that op-ed.