Navy builds two new large surface attack drone ships

The Navy is building two new large drone ships to coordinate synchronized attacks, perform command and control across fleets of Unmanned Surface Vessels and conduct high-risk maritime missions such as anti-submarine operations, mine countermeasures, surface warfare, and forward-deployed surveillance.

The new vessels, now in early stages of conceptual development, are intended to perform both manned and unmanned operations while networked to a smaller fleet of multi-mission USVs, Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems, Naval Sea Systems Command, told reporters at the Surface Naval Association Symposium.

“We are integrating Large USVs (LUSV) and Medium USVs (MUSV) into the architecture, as a large part of a future surface combatant force. We are developing a single integrated combat system shared across the entire combat portfolio,” Small said.

While the Navy is now exploring arming maritime drones with weapons, Small explained that the initial focus for the new larger surface drones will be autonomy, endurance, precision navigation, and command and control.


Autonomy and human-led command and control systems form the basis of the Navy’s rapidly evolving, multi-year “Ghost Fleet” project to engineer a fleet of coordinated, interoperable surface drones able to share time-sensitive combat information in real time across the force. In development now for many years by the Office of Naval Research and Naval Sea Systems Command, Ghost Fleet is engineered to leverage the most advanced AI and machine-learning technologies available. The intent is to enable swarms of synchronized drones to capture, organize and disseminate key targeting and sensor data, such as the location of mines, submarines, surface vessels or incoming enemy attacks.

There are not yet hull designs under construction or specific configurations, but the Navy has begun a dialogue with industry to explore technical options and requirements for the new vessels. The service has released a formal RFI – request for information – to industry for the MUSV.

“Ghost Fleet” represents a Navy strategy to surveil, counter, overwhelm and attack enemies in a coordinated fashion – all while keeping sailors on host ships at safer distances.


In fact, Small explained that the emerging LUSV and MUSV drone boats are being designed specifically with Ghost Fleet in mind, as they are expected to draw upon and incorporate advances in autonomy.

“Ghost Fleet is helping us in a number of ways one of the big ways it is helping us is in the command and control communications arena. Integrating military-ready and military capable interoperable and command and control. All of that learning will go right into our medium and large USV programs — and how we interact with medium and large USV and how we talk to them and command and control them,” Small told Warrior Maven.

The new ships will operate in tandem with the Navy’s now-in-development fleet of small boat USVs to include the Unmanned Influence Sweep Systems and the emerging Mine Countermeasures USV – among others.

Larger USVs, it would appear, could bring the promise of greater forward-deployed command and control, along with an increased ability to integrate a range of otherwise separated functions. For instance, it seems entirely plausible that a new LUSV could combine submarine hunting with mine-countermeasures, command and control and surface attack. As a forwardly positioned vessel, it could enable deeper draft manned ships to operate at safer standoff ranges. Also, by pushing the limits of technology, larger surface drones could potentially bring unprecedented amounts of endurance. Not only would they not need to constrain mission dwell time by a need to return human crews, but larger drones could potentially carry more fuel, supplies, and ammunition.

Development of the new drones is woven into an existing Navy program called Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture, a coordinated technology push to advance autonomy and create new interface control documents, Small said.


“In an autonomous vehicle, you have different layers of autonomy. You need autonomy to turn the engine on and off, operate mechanical and electrical equipment and perform automated command and control,” he added.

In order to capitalize upon a built-in ability to house larger, more complex payloads, the new LUSV and MUSV are, by design, being engineered with a set of common standards and defined interfaces to accommodate new weapons, software and technologies as they emerge. The strategy, using interoperable protocol and hardware architecture, can not only reduce the hardware footprint but help create the technical infrastructure necessary for continued modernization.

“What I want to do in a program manager is be able to adapt and upgrade platforms to bring new technology to bear as it develops. This will prevent getting the sensors, payloads and platforms and that autonomy so intertwined — so that when we do make those breakthroughs in machine learning and AI we will be able to incorporate it into a whole portfolio of platforms and systems,” Small said.

Widening the aperture for new and emerging payloads aligns with the Navy’s broader strategy with USVs which uses different payloads to sweep, hunt and destroy enemy mines. This concept, it seems clear, could also be applied more broadly to envision a large surface drone which not only performs countermine missions but also attacks submarines, networks with aerial drones, undersea systems, larger ships or even land-based combat assets.

“There can be a single software solution across all domains … ashore, afloat on the surface and undersea,” Small said.

More Weapons and Technology – WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE)

Mhlengi Gwala: A gruesome chainsaw attack, to dreams of Paralympic gold

African Voices chainsaw attack mhlengi gwala durban south africa triathlete paralympics tokyo vision_00013615


    Dreaming of Tokyo 2020 after chainsaw attack


Dreaming of Tokyo 2020 after chainsaw attack 02:08

Durban, South Africa (CNN)Before the sun has shone its morning light on KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Mhlengi Gwala has biked 65 kilometers and run at least five along its beautiful coast.

He’s not the fastest, and he’s not a full-time professional athlete, but he trains like one — as if he’s got something to lose if he misses a day.
“Nobody died from working hard,” Gwala told CNN after his monster morning training block.
By 7 a.m., Gwala is in the kitchen making breakfast for his two children before heading off to work. Afterward, he’ll throw in a 3km swim.
    At the age of 27, Gwala should be in his prime for his sport of choice: triathlon.
    Except he isn’t after being attacked at gunpoint by three men, who according to Gwala, then pulled out a chainsaw, and began to saw into his legs.
    Gwala suffered the horrific chainsaw attack in March 2018.

    Gwala suffered the horrific chainsaw attack in March 2018.

    Humble beginnings

    Mhlengi Gwala in his hometown, Ndwewe, South Africa.

    Mhlengi Gwala in his hometown, Ndwewe, South Africa.

    Gwala grew up at the foothills of the rural South African village of Ndwedwe, to a family of cow herders. On these large swaths of barren land, he learned to run — chasing cows and classmates. A self-described rebel, he would often swim in the forbidden river in the valley.
    “If I want to get strong, I come and train here,” Gwala told CNN, as he glanced up at the massive mountains of his hometown. Today, he’s here visiting his family. But first, a run.
    Jogging up the steep dirt trails, he pointed out his primary school, a stone’s throw from his childhood home. From there, he said he would organize running races with no knowledge of the total course distance, and no prize other than the satisfaction to participate.
    Today his training is much more disciplined. Every kilometer calculated; every pace clocked.
    Gwala moved to neighboring Chesterville for university. It wasn’t long before he fell in with a bad crowd and began dabbling in drugs and alcohol.
    “I told my mom, ‘I want to stop [going to school] because I’m wasting your money,” he said. “I had developed a drug and alcohol problem.”
    Failing at university and staring at liver failure, the then 22-year-old Gwala said he had to make a drastic lifestyle change if he wanted to see 30.
    Unsure of what direction to go, a friend suggested he try out for a lifesaving job, since he knew how to swim and it’d be a healthy lifestyle choice.
    Mhlengi Gwala with Durban's Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.

    Mhlengi Gwala with Durban's Marine Surf Lifesaving Club.

    After two weeks of grueling tryouts in the pool, he landed the job.
    “I fell in love with lifesaving and I decided I have to start doing [this],” Gwala said.
    This profession didn’t completely cover the bills at first, so he moonlighted at a factory — a job which he ran to — and from — every day. He credits that commute for his speediness.
    Mhlengi Gwala wins the South Africa Lifesaving Championships.

    Mhlengi Gwala wins the South Africa Lifesaving Championships.

    He joined Durban’s Marine Surf Lifesaving Club and began competing in beach swim-run events. After winning two races, including the South Africa Lifesaving Championships, he realized he could swim and run pretty well, so why not add in biking and try a triathlon?

    A triathlete is born

    View this post on Instagram

    Uchuku. #SlyzaTsotsi. #uchuku.

    A post shared by mhlengi Gwala (@mhle_gwala) on

    In 2015, Gwala started placing in his age group in local triathlons. Later that year, he was invited to the US to represent South Africa in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago.
    Two weeks before the big race, he was in a bike crash. Still, he competed and came in 57th place in his age group.
    Making strides for his country, competing again in the ITU World Finals in 2017, and competing in longer distances — like Ironman 70.3 events, Gwala was starting to get serious about triathlon.

    The life altering accident

    Except “people tried to stop my career,” said Gwala, though fighting back tears he’s unable to say much more about the heinous accident that changed everything.
    In March 2018, during his routine early morning ride near the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Gwala was attacked at gunpoint by three men and pulled into a nearby bush.
    According to Gwala, they began shouting at him in a foreign language and then pulled out the chainsaw.
    The men managed to cut through 90% of his tibia, and 80% of the surrounding tissue on his right leg, according to Dr. O’Sharran Singh.
    It made some lacerations to the left leg, but miraculously, the chainsaw seemingly stopped working and the men ran away, according to Gwala.
    He was rushed to the hospital, where his doctors were able to save his leg. But they told him it would be two years before he could run again.
    Six months after surgery, Gwala was running again. Today he’s running up to 6km. It may not be fast, or pretty; he likens it to how a crab would run, but aesthetics are not what he’s after.

    Getting back on his feet

    “The first time we got him on the treadmill running it was very emotional,” said Jarrod Rudolph, his physical therapist at Prime Human Performance Institute in Durban.
    “For us to get him to achieve that in a five to six month period post-op was a remarkable thing and it really boils down to his attitude,” Rudolph commented.
    It’s still a very long road to his recovery. The nerve damage may take up to two years to heal, according to Team South Africa’s Olympic doctor Kevin Shubban.

    But, remarkably, Gwala is doing everything he was doing before, just with a limp.

    Road to the Paralympics

    Gwala has qualified for coding as a para-athlete. His goal now is to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games in either the paracycling or paratriathlon events.
    “That is my big motivation. That makes me wake up every morning because I need to get strong if I’m going there, and make South Africa proud of me,” he said, “I’m hungry for success, ha ha.”
    Another big motivator for Gwala is Olympian Josia Thugwane, the first black athlete to earn an Olympic gold for South Africa.
    August 1996: Josia Thugwane of South Africa after winning the men's marathon at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

    August 1996: Josia Thugwane of South Africa after winning the men's marathon at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.

    Thugwane was shot five months before he was set to compete in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The bullet grazed his chin, and injured his back. Defying all odds, he made an amazing recovery and went on to win the marathon.
    “Whenever I’m going to race I have to watch his documentary. He makes me feel strong.”
    To this day, Gwala has a hard time talking about the chainsaw incident. He still doesn’t understand why he was attacked, nor do the police who say they are no closer to catching his assailants.
    “I forgive them. I can’t forget. I’ll always remember. Every day, every hour,” he said, “but I won’t remember it as a bad thing.”
      Alcohol took his life away. Triathlon gave it back. This attack may have slowed Gwala down, but he’s more determined now than ever to make it to the top.
      That’s why he trains day after day, training not just for himself or his family, but for his country and for a goal that’s bigger than himself: Tokyo in 2020.

      Police report: Jussie Smollett did not want to report alleged attack at first

      Jussie Smollett sends defiant message after attack


        Jussie Smollett sends defiant message after attack


      Jussie Smollett sends defiant message after attack 01:21

      (CNN)Actor Jussie Smollett was initially hesitant to report an attack he allegedly suffered last week, according to a Chicago police report released Monday.

      Chicago police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, after Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” Smollett said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
      The 36-year-old “Empire” actor and musician identifies as gay and plays a gay character on the series.
      The redacted report, which was obtained by CNN through a FOIA request, includes details such as Smollett’s descriptions of the alleged attackers’ clothing. The report also mentions details previously released by authorities, such as what the alleged attackers said to Smollett.
        A 60-year-old man, who reported the incident, told police Smollett “did not want to report (the) offense, however he believed it to be in his best interest to,” the report said.
        Smollett told police that “as he was walking to his residence, two unknown males approached him and gained his attention by saying verbatim ‘Empire fa***t n***er.'”
        “The primary aggressor was wearing a black mask concealing any facial features, and both offenders were dressed in black,” the report said.
        Smollett did not recall any other distinguishing features or the direction the attackers fled in, the report said.
        He suffered minor injuries and bruising, the report said. Smollett was sober at the time, according to the report.
        Smollett told police he had received “hate mail at his place of work” on January 22, several days before the alleged attack, according to the report.
        Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN last week that the letter Smollett received on January 22 at Cinespace Studios, where the show is filmed, prompted a response from the HAZMAT unit.
        Authorities determined that a white powder accompanying the letter was aspirin, Guglielmi said last week, declining to provide details on the letter’s contents.
        The police report did not offer additional details on the letter.
        The FBI, which is leading the investigation into the letter, declined to comment Monday through FBI Chicago spokesman Special Agent John W. Althen.
        A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Entertainment, which produces the series, had declined to comment last week when reached by CNN.
        Smollett’s family released a statement last week supporting the actor and condemning the attack, calling it a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”
        In his first show since the reported attack, Smollett tearfully told fans on Saturday he wasn’t fully healed but was doing okay.
        “I had to be here tonight, y’all, I couldn’t let those (expletives) … win,” he said at West Hollywood’s Troubadour club, referring to his attackers. “Above all I fought … (expletive) back.”
          Chicago police released photos last week of people they would like to talk to for their investigation, but no one has been arrested in the alleged attack.
          Police are following up on leads and still reviewing footage, according to Guglielmi.

          Ilhan Omar once blamed ‘our involvement in other people’s affairs’ after al-Shabab attack on Kenyan mall

          Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar once described acts of terrorism as a reaction to “our involvement in other people’s affairs,” in the wake of the brutal al-Shabab attack on a Kenyan shopping mall in 2013.

          Omar made the comments during an obscure local television appearance just weeks after four armed al-Shabab jihadists stormed the Westgate mall in Nairobi in 2013, killing nearly 70 people and wounding 200.


          “When are we gonna decide or realize that terrorism is a reaction? It’s an ideology, it’s a means of things, it’s not an entity, it’s not a place, people. It’s a reaction to a situation,” host Ahmed Tharwat asked then-activist Omar, on the show “Belahdan” on Twin Cities PBS during a discussion about the experience of the Somali community in the U.S. following the attack in Kenya.

          “Yes,” she agreed. “What you’re insinuating is what nobody wants to face. Nobody wants to face how the actions of the other people that are involved in the world have contributed to the rise of the radicalization and the rise of terrorist acts.”


          She continued: “Usually most people want to not look internal and see what their actions that makes another react. For us, it’s always ‘I must have not done anything. Why is it happening to me?’ Nobody wants to take accountability of how these are byproducts of the actions of our involvement in other people’s affairs.”

          “For us, it’s always ‘I must have not done anything. Why is it happening to me?’ Nobody wants to take accountability of how these are byproducts of the actions of our involvement in other people’s affairs.”

          — Ilhan Omar

          Tharwat, who has given a platform before to radical activists — including a political cartoonist who won second place in the 2006 Iranian International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, an anti-Semitic contest featuring Holocaust denial — went on to compare the violence perpetrated by terror groups around the world to the actions of western governments.

          “Most of the people who commit these kind of heinous violence are done by people unelected that are just fringe of the societies … but the violence done [by] the West is done by the people that are elected,” he said, prompting Omar to agree that violence committed by the West is “legitimized.”


          Omar is now a freshman member of the House, holding a seat on the influential Foreign Affairs Committee overseeing legislation and investigations related to the American foreign policy.

          She recently came under fire for a 2016 letter asking a judge to show leniency toward a group of Minnesota men accused of trying to join the Islamic State terror group. In the letter, she urged compassion and blamed the men’s “desire to commit violence” on “systematic alienation.”

          But the 2013 comments – and it remains unclear if she still stands behind them – have generated more criticism. Omar’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Fox News.

          “We’ve heard variations of this argument for decades now. We hear it on 9/11, we heard it when suicide bombs go off on train stations in London or Madrid,” said Robin Simcox, a national security and terrorism expert at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News.

          “The problem the people who make that argument have is that you can’t possibly logically explain then why attacks take place in, for example, Cameroon or the Philippines, or Thailand, or China,” Simcox continued. “This isn’t something dictated by facts or logic, it’s something that is an ideological position that Omar is obviously determined to take regardless of the facts.”


          Before Omar made the comments during the 2013 appearance, the host also asked whether Americans should be held responsible for the U.S. government’s support of countries that intervened in Somalia after Islamist extremists took control over parts of the country in 2006.

          “The context, the way media covered this. Nobody would talk about what al-Shabab is all about,” Tharwat said, pointing that al-Shabab was fighting groups and states supported by the U.S. “Do I hold average Americans responsible because their state [supports] another country to invade your country, or my country?”

          Tharwat later doubled down, saying that “Even al-Shabab, evil as they are, if you look at their history, it’s a product of what? A destruction of the country.”

          Omar replied with “yeah” multiple times to the host’s comments, before remarking “we could even go further” and said the media ignore attacks by al-Shabab in Somalia. “Everyone wants to talk about what was carried outside [of Somalia] and we don’t understand the politics that is involved in this,” she said.


          Omar has been facing scrutiny over her views concerning foreign policy since she was sworn in last month, including recent comments comparing Israel to Iran and saying she “almost chuckle[s]” whenever the Jewish state is described as a democracy. She later agreed with a liberal activist on social media that current-day Israel is much like the U.S. South during segregation.

          Jussie Smollett performs at emotional concert, making his first appearance since attack

          Actor and singer Jussie Smollett told a packed crowd on Saturday that he won’t let his attackers win, during an emotional concert that served as his first public appearance since being brutally beaten last week.

          “I’m not fully healed yet,” said Smollett, who is black and openly gay, “but I’m going to be, and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all,” he said to cheers from the audience at the The Troubadour in West Hollywood, Calif.

          Smollett, who appears in the popular show “Empire,” still had a swollen knot on his face during the show, after two men allegedly beat him, poured what appeared to be bleach on him and draped a noose around his neck while using racist and homophobic slurs in Chicago on Tuesday.

          Smollett’s siblings embraced him as he stood on stage before beginning the concert, which was attended by about 400 people, including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

          After thanking everyone for their support, Smollett also took the time to address some misconceptions and the “hateful rhetoric” surrounding his attack. Some attempted to poke holes in Smollett’s story by saying that he changed his original story, after he said in a follow-up interview with police that the two masked men who beat him shouted “MAGA Country” during the attack.


          This image provided by the Chicago Police Department and taken from surveillance video shows two people of interest in an attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett 

          This image provided by the Chicago Police Department and taken from surveillance video shows two people of interest in an attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett  (Courtesy of Chicago Police Department via AP)

          “I don’t even care to name any names,” he said. “The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love.”


          He released a statement earlier this week defending himself from those attempting to portray him as a liar. “I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level,” he said. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”

          He also clarified while on stage on Saturday that his ribs were bruised during the attack but not cracked, and that he had been medically cleared to perform. The concert was planned well before the incident, and family and friends reportedly urged him to postpone it for his own health and safety. Smollett, however, said he felt compelled to use the concert as a chance to spread a positive message.


          “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I couldn’t let those motherf–kers win,” he said to cheers in the audience. “I will always stand for love. I will only stand for love.”

          He added that he refused to take the attack lying down.

          “Above all, I fought the f–k back,” he said before ending the show.

          A surveillance video was released showing two people of interest walking along a snow-covered street near where the beating took place. Chicago Police said that they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

          The Associated Press contributed to this reporting of this story.

          Actress Anna Paquin talks alleged attack on ‘Empire’s’ Jussie Smollett: ‘I’m f—ing horrified’

          Anna Paquin made it clear that she stands with “Empire” star Jussie Smollett and has zero tolerance for what’s being investigated as a possible hate crime against the openly gay actor and musician.

          “It’s absolutely horrific,” the “Flack” leading lady told Fox News on Thursday during a network party at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Los Angeles. “I have no more information than anyone else does, but I think as anyone with a conscience and a pulse – I’m just f—king horrified.”

          The “True Blood” alum’s comments came after Smollett was hospitalized, claiming he’d been attacked by two assailants in Chicago who yelled out “racial and homophobic slurs” and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before wrapping a rope around his neck.


          Paquin, 36, is a longtime and very vocal supporter of the LGBTQIA community and identifies as bisexual.

          Smollett also alleges the perpetrators shouted, “this is MAGA country” during the attack — a pointed reference to the slogan popularized by President Trump and his supporters: Make America Great Again.

          The 36-year-old Smollett broke his silence Friday in a statement to Essence, thanking his fans for the support he has received.

          “Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” Smollett began in the statement. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”


          “I am working with authorities and have been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”

          The “Sum of My Music” singer concluded: “As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process,” he concluded. “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me. “With Love, respect & honor…Jussie.”


          Smollett is slated to take the stage Saturday night for a sold-out performance at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Law enforcement officials told Fox News that police officers near the venue will be on “high alert” for suspicious activity.

          New York woman suffers ‘silent’ heart attack, details experience to warn others

          A New York woman who survived a so-called “silent” heart attack is using her experience to remind others how symptoms of the sometimes fatal occurrence are not always immediately apparent.

          Tasha Benjamin, who lives in East Syracuse, New York, told CNYCentral she suffered from a silent heart attack — a heart attack that has only a few or no symptoms at all — in 2014.


          The busy mom of four never thought the “subtle chest discomfort,” jaw and lower back pain, nausea and dizziness she was experiencing were signs of the potentially fatal medical emergency.

          “You may not necessarily feel an elephant sitting on your chest, which is sometimes related to having a heart attack. It may just be you feel nauseous and dizzy and you may say oh it’s something I ate or I could be tired,” Benjamin said.

          Indeed: Symptoms of a heart attack can differ between sexes, and, according to the Mayo Clinic, women are “more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain,” which is a common sign of a heart attack.

          Neck, jaw, shoulder and upper back pain can be a sign of a heart attack in women, as can abdominal discomfort, the Mayo Clinic says. Shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, sweating, and “unusual” or extreme fatigue are additional signs.


          Benjamin was made aware of her heart attack when she saw her doctor for a physical and underwent an electrocardiogram, more commonly known as an EKG. The procedure checks the rhythm of the heart and can also diagnose a heart attack.

          “If I didn’t go for my physical, I would have never had the EKG, I would never have known I had suffered a heart attack,” she told CNY Central.

          Benjamin shared her experience in light of the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day, which takes place on Feb. 1 each year. The event raises awareness about heart disease, specifically in women.

          “I’m glad we are taking the time to bring it to light, because it does happen, unfortunately,” she added.


          In total, roughly 735,000 people across the U.S. suffer a heart attack each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or who smoke are at risk for developing heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Additionally, those with diabetes, a poor diet, or who are overweight, among other medical conditions, are also at risk of having a heart attack, according to the CDC.

          Jussie Smollett breaks silence after his reported attack

          Police release photo of persons of interest in actor's attack

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            Police release photo of persons of interest in actor’s attack

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          Police release photo of persons of interest in actor’s attack 01:56

          (CNN)Jussie Smollett has a message for his supporters: “I’m OK.”

          In a statement first published by Essence on Friday, the “Empire” actor, who said he was attacked in the early morning hours on Tuesday in what Chicago police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
          Smollett addressed his statement to the “beautiful people.”
          “Let me start by saying that I’m OK,” the actor said. “My body is strong but my soul is stronger.”
            He went on to share his gratitude.
            “More importantly I want to say thank you,” Smollett said. “The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
            The star also addressed speculation that he has been less than forthcoming with authorities and that his story has changed since he originally reported the incident.
            “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” Smollett added. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
            Smollett said he was attacked by two people who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs,” according to police.
            Smollett plays a gay character on “Empire” and also identifies as gay.
            He also reported that one of his attackers put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him, police said.
            Investigators said they have video of Smollett entering the hotel after the alleged attack with what appears to be a noose around his neck.
            On Thursday, the Smollett family issued their first official statement since the incident.
            They condemned the “violent and unprovoked attack,” calling it “a racial and homophobic hate crime.”
            “Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning,” the family’s statement read. “His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”
            “As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily,” Smollett said in his statement.
            “I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident,” he said. “We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident, but I need a moment to process.”
            Smollett concluded with a message of resilience.
            “Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love,” he said. “It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.”
            CNN’s Don Lemon spote to Smollett and a mutual friend who was at the hospital with the actor on Tuesday.
            Smollett said he was shaken and angry that an attack like this could happen.
              Smollett told CNN he fought back at the attackers.
              Chicago police have released photos of potential persons of interest they are asking the public for assistance in identifying.

              At least 60 dead in Boko Haram attack: report

              At least 60 people have been killed in an attack carried out by militant group Boko Haram this week, Amnesty International confirmed Friday.

              The attack on the northwest Nigerian town of Rann took place Monday and marked one of the most lethal in the group’s at least 10-year history, targeting those who had already been displaced by the ongoing conflict in what Amnesty indicated “may amount to possible war crimes.”

              “Those responsible must be brought to justice,” Osai Ojigho, the Nigeria director for the human rights body stated.


              The attack came two weeks after Boko Haram, a jihadist group that at one point aligned with ISIS, seized control of Rann and ran out Nigerian soldiers stationed there.

              Ojigho said that witnesses told Amnesty investigators that soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the deadly attack, “demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”


              A security source told Reuters that Nigerian troops returned to Rann in mid-January, accompanied by Cameroonian troops from a Multi-National Joint Task Force, but the soldiers then left – citing a lack of troops, weapons, and equipment.

              Escalating violence perpetrated by Boko Haram in recent weeks forced 30,000 people out of Nigeria’s northeast and into Cameroonian last weekend alone, the UN Refugee agency stated this week.


              More than 250,000 are reported to have been displaced amid the uptick of militant attacks aimed at the civilian population. The deteriorating security situation is also said to have gravely impacted humanitarian operations and forced aid workers to withdraw from certain areas, adding to the strain from the local population.

              Chicago police release ‘people of interest’ photos in ‘Empire’ actor’s alleged attack case

              Photos of “people of interest” connected to the alleged attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett were released by the Chicago Police Department Wednesday night.

              Smollett, 36, told investigators he was brutally attacked early Tuesday by two unknown men who yelled out “racial and homophobic slurs.”

              Police on Wednesday night released photos of "people of interest" in connection with the alleged attack against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

              Police on Wednesday night released photos of “people of interest” in connection with the alleged attack against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. (Chicago Police Department)

              The police department said earlier Wednesday that they reviewed hundreds of hours of footage from downtown surveillance cameras, but had yet to find footage of the alleged attack.

              But hours later Chicago Police’s Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi released two photos of those possibly connected to the alleged beating on Twitter.


              “While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed,” Guglielmi wrote.

              The pictures appear to show two people, dressed in dark clothing, walking along a sidewalk next to a building.

              "While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed," police said.

              “While video does not capture an encounter, detectives are taking this development seriously & wish to question individuals as more cameras are being reviewed,” police said. (Chicago Police Department)

              Investigators told Fox News that while walking near the Chicago River around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Smollett said two men approached him and yelled, “This is MAGA country.” The actor told police the men struck him in the face with their hands and poured an unknown chemical on him before wrapping a rope around his neck.

              Smollett, according to authorities, took himself to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment.


              “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the Chicago police said in a statement after the alleged attack. “Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline.”

              Smollett plays openly gay musician Jamal Lyon on the Fox series. The actor told Ellen DeGeneres in 2015 that he identifies as gay but does not discuss his personal life in public.


              In a statement to Fox News, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”

              “Empire” is shot in Chicago and is currently in production. A spokesperson for Fox Broadcasting Company confirmed to Fox News Wednesday night that “security has been increased on the production and Mr. Smollett.”

              Fox News’ Matt Finn and Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.