Greg Myre

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious Afghan warlord known as the "Butcher of Kabul," returned to the city he so often attacked with rockets and was welcomed Thursday by President Ashraf Ghani, who thanked him for "heeding the peace call."

Hekmatyar, 69, is among the most prominent surviving figures from the early days of war that began with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and grinds on to this day.

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The Islamic State keeps losing ground in Iraq and Syria. But defeat wouldn't mean the end of the terrorist group. Here's NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre.

As President Trump wages a rhetorical battle with North Korea over its nuclear program, his secretary of state says the nuclear deal with Iran will now be placed under review.

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Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

Airline passengers coming to the U.S. and Britain on direct flights from a number of majority-Muslim nations must now place most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, in checked baggage under stepped-up security measures, the Trump administration and the British government said.

Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane's cabin, but nothing larger, officials from the two countries added.

With a series of airstrikes and a recent ground raid, the U.S. military has intensified a long-running campaign against al-Qaida in Yemen, which is considered more dangerous than the group's parent organization.

As President Trump prepares a new executive order on vetting refugees and immigrants, one idea keeps cropping up: checking the social media accounts of those coming to the U.S.

In fact, such a program was begun under the Obama administration more than a year ago on a limited basis and is likely to be expanded. But social media vetting is a heavy lift, and it's too early to tell how effective it will be.

Updated 2 p.m. ET

President Trump's freeze on immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries cites the potential threat of terrorism. But here's the twist — it doesn't include any countries from which radicalized Muslims have actually killed Americans in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.

The president's executive action, which he signed Friday at the Pentagon, applies to these countries: Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Sudan.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET

President Trump paid his first presidential visit to the top brass at the Pentagon on Friday afternoon and announced his intention to provide a wide range of new resources for the U.S. military.

"I'm signing an executive action to begin a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States," the president said in a brief ceremony that included the swearing in of the new defense secretary, James Mattis.

The U.S. has released 10 prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Arab nation of Oman, reducing the detainee population to 45 in the waning days of the Obama administration.

The freed prisoners were not identified by name or nationality, though the Oman News Agency, citing the country's Foreign Ministry, reported that the 10 had arrived in the country on Monday for "temporary residence."

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Obama and Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic appearance at Pearl Harbor, 75 years after the surprise attack that prompted U.S. entry into World War II, praising the reconciliation and partnership between their respective nations.

In a somber ceremony Tuesday, the two leaders touted the U.S.-Japan alliance that arose in the aftermath of the bitter conflict and became a "cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," Obama said.

As the world woke up Wednesday to Donald Trump's presidential election victory, congratulations from foreign leaders were mixed with worries about how Trump's provocative campaign pronouncements will be translated into policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram — yes, a telegram — to congratulate Trump. But Putin also addressed the troubled state of relations between the two countries.

The United States often chastises African countries about elections that are less than free and fair — occasionally slapping on sanctions and other punitive measures. But with Donald Trump claiming the U.S. vote could be rigged, Africans are taking to social media to turn the tables.

As Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began re-establishing control Saturday, he immediately pointed the finger of blame for the failed coup attempt against him.

So who does he consider most responsible? A rogue general?

Nope. Erdogan directed his outrage at an elderly, reclusive Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania's Poconos: Fethullah Gulen.

A broad survey of Arab youth in the Middle East and North Africa found that an overwhelming majority reject the Islamic State and its aims, though they see a lack of jobs and opportunities as major problems in their countries and leading recruiting tools for ISIS.

The headquarters for the U.S. military's longest war isn't at the Pentagon. It's here at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, a modest brick building in suburban Washington.

Like most military campaigns, this one requires volunteers. Their mission is to place a bare arm atop a mug of malaria-infected mosquitoes and sit still while the parasites enjoy a feast. The volunteers will get malaria, and this allows the military to see how humans respond to treatment.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his country wants the U.S. to provide more airstrikes, weapons and intelligence in their joint battle against the Islamic State. But he stressed his opposition to ground troops from the U.S. or other outside nations, fearing Iraq could be turned into a major regional war.

Depending on whom you ask, there have been 353 mass shootings in the United States this year, or four. Or some other number in between.

How can the figures be so far apart?

A mass shooting would seem to be self-evident. But with the highly politicized debate over gun control, and no fixed standard, there's an ongoing battle over the definition. Some say mass shootings are soaring, while others point to numbers suggesting they have been at roughly the same level for years.

The shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., was the 355th mass shooting in the U.S. so far this year — or more than one per day on average so far in 2015 — according to groups monitoring such attacks in recent years.

In Afghanistan's rough and ragged reconstruction, one of the most frequently cited bright spots has been the surge in Afghan kids going to school.

When the Taliban were ousted in 2001, fewer than 1 million Afghans were in the classroom, and a minuscule number were girls. In recent years, the figure topped 8 million, with both sexes well represented, according to the Afghan government.

Now the extent of that success story is being thrown into doubt.

With a deadline looming Wednesday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cobbled together a new coalition government that gives him the bare minimum of parliamentary seats needed to govern, according to news reports.

The deal assures Netanyahu of a fourth term as prime minister, but it is not the outcome he envisioned when he dissolved his fractious coalition last December and called for early elections in March.

When Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi weighs the pros and cons of running such a fractured country, here's the upside: He can count on five separate military groups supporting his battle against the self-declared Islamic State.

The downside is that he has limited control of these groups, and of much of his country.

A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, who had joined al-Qaida after his release, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, the group said in a statement Tuesday.

Ibrahim al-Rubaish had fought in Afghanistan before being arrested and held in Guantanamo. He would go on to be one of the top leaders in al-Qaida in Yemen.

The drone attack is a sign that the United States has not abandoned its military campaign against al-Qaida despite the chaos in Yemen. U.S. and Yemeni officials did not immediately comment.

During a tough Israeli election campaign, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to antagonize, among others, the White House, Israel's Arab citizens and the Palestinians.

Now that Netanyahu's Likud Party has come out on top, the prime minister has sought to ease tensions with a series of gestures.

A new pan-Arab television channel, Al-Arab, began broadcasting Sunday afternoon from the Gulf nation of Bahrain. By dawn Monday, it was off the air.

"Broadcast stopped for technical and administrative reasons. We will be back soon, inshallah [God willing]," the news channel wrote Monday on its Twitter feed.

Al-Arab's apparent offense was broadcasting an interview with Khalil al-Marzooq, a prominent critic of Bahrain's monarchy.

The flood of Syrian refugees has been straining Lebanon for several years, and the Lebanese have now responded by imposing visa restrictions on Syria for the first time ever.

Residents from the neighboring Arab states have traditionally been able to travel back and forth easily despite relations that have often been tumultuous. But more than 1 million Syrian refugees have entered Lebanon since Syria's civil war began in 2011, placing a huge burden on Lebanon, a country of just 4 million people.

Nazila Fathi covered turbulent events in her native Iran for years as The New York Times correspondent. She learned to navigate the complicated system that tolerates reporting on many topics but can also toss reporters in jail if they step across a line never explicitly defined by the country's Islamic authorities.

Fathi recalls one editor telling her what journalists could do in Iran: "We have the freedom to say whatever we want to say, but we don't know what happens afterwards."

With his coalition government splintering, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sacked two senior Cabinet ministers, said Parliament should be dissolved and called for early elections.

The Israeli media reported that new elections could be held as early as March.

Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past five years — an extremely long tenure in a country marked by fractious politics and unstable coalition governments. He has more than two years left in his current term before new elections are required in 2017.

As the U.S. military winds down its role in Afghanistan, the U.S. commander there, Gen. John Campbell, says Afghan forces have improved enough to handle the Taliban forces that are still waging war.

The Afghan military is "the strongest institution in Afghanistan," Campbell told NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in an interview broadcast on Veterans Day.

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