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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  August 1, 2022 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT

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threat in kentucky as the death toll rises to at least 37 the desperate search, still hundreds unaccounted for. the team with the air national guard with people trapped in their homes. the trang difor one family, their four children drowning in the floods the explosive wildfire in california turning deadly our team in the fire zone and why critics say it
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doesn't go far enough. my conversation with the parns of austin tice. this mark marking ten years since the american journalist banished in syria. their new plea to president biden. a u.s. drone strike in afghanistan is believed to have killed one of the world's most notorious terror masterminds wanted in the deaths of hundreds including americans abroad u.s. officials say ayman al zawahir laden was successfully targeted in a weekend drone strike in afghanistan. to this day he has been on the fbi's most wanted list for his role in the 1998 bombings of u.s. embassies in tanzania and kenya that killed 224 people including 12 americans also a key figure in the 9/11 attack. president biden addressing the nation tonight about the operation. kelly o'donnell is at the white house with
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late details >> lester, the past saturday night 9:40 p.m. eastern saturday night the u.s. government used an unmanned drone and hellfire missiles to target the third floor balance coney in down on it afghanistan to kill the president of al qaeda president widen who has covid has announced the successful operation claiming no civilian casualties. >> no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the united states will find you and take you out. >> reporter: officials say they brought a model of the kabul apartment building to the white house situation room to explain the operation. they had long been tracking the leader and his family who had moved to a safehouse in the last year very few u.s. officials were aware of this mission and the president ultimately gave the
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go-ahead one week ago. >> kelly o'donnell, thank yo his signature was on many of the worst terrorist attacks of our time tonight our chief foreign correspondent richard engel with details. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> reporter: ayman al zawahiri was al qaeda's leader, succeeding osama bin laden, in dozens of videos attacking u.s. and allies he directed al qaeda's thinking, led the operation and was a key planner of the 9/11 attacks and the 1998 u.s. embassy bombings in east africa >> we know it was his urging that bin laden really took an interest in attacking the united states. >> reporter: he meticulously planned mass murder. tried to arm al qaeda with weapons of mass destruction and wrote the declaration of war against the u.s. his transformation into the world's most wanted terrorist had an unlikely start. he was born in 1951 into a wealthy egyptian family, of
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doctors and scholars he became radicalized as a teenager after joining muslim brotherhood before training to be a surgeon. at 31, he was one of hundreds assassinated arrested after the assassination of egyptian president anwar al sadat he was tortured during three years in an egyptian jail and left to seek revenge. >> they intend to tillis >> reporter: by his mid 30s, he was a leader in egypt's islamic jihad. he met the saudi osama bin laden who was fighting the soviets in afghanistan they bonded. zawahiri became bin laden's personal doctor by 1998, the islamic jihad and al qaeda merged zawahiri a second in command. >> bin laden was a relative newcomer to the world of jihad zawahiri had well-established credentials. the two uniting up provided a team that could not be broken. >> reporter: america was their next target. the world trade center in their sights.
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after 9/11, zawahiri was seen in afghanistan and then went into hiding at $25 million reward on his head he kept al qaeda alive as isis became the west's main target pious, ruthless, the behind the world's worst terrorist attack even in the final video. he was calling on muslims to attack america. >> richard, what is the significant that this strike took place in kabul >> so there are indications that it took place not just in kabul but right in the center of kabul, not far from the presidential palace. and the united states has been cooperating, many people don't know this, with the taliban in the fight against isis but the counterterrorism cooperation against al qaeda has been very poor so this seems like it was a target of opportunity for the americans. the pinnacle of arrogance from the taliban to host such a senior leader and the united states sending
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a message to the taliban that they won't tolerate the group once again hosting al qaeda >> richard engel with the breaking news tonight. thank you. also in washington, a federal judge sentenced convicted rioter who stormed the capitol on january 6th to more than seven years in prison guy reffitt of texas was armed with a gun and zip ties in court today he called himself an idiot and said he no longer wants to associate with militia groups days into a historic flash flood, catastrophe rescuers in kentucky are still uncovering layer of death and misery. the death toll now at least 37 tonight, new dramatic images of the desperate search and rescue operation and jesse kirsch has exclusive access with the national guard as they bring relief from the air. >> reporter: in eastern kentucky tonight, flood survivors getting food, water, even diapers by air the national guard delivering supplies including donations to thousands of people still largely cut off
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from the world more than four days after deadly floodwaters tore eastern kentucky apart. some areas so isolated even this blackhawk helicopter couldn't easily reach the community where a main road was obliterated you can see there is a home down there. it is between the hills and we're told that the roadway has been completely cut off. they need food and water and this helicopter is going to bring it to them the deadly once in a thousand year flood destroyed bridges, ripped down power lines and snapped homes like toothpicks. overhead it is clear much of the water receded. but the desperate searches continue. >> i don't think we still know how big the situation is it could go on for a couple weeks it could go on for a month. >> reporter: at least 37 killed. the death toll likely to climb among the lives lost, four children, all siblings the governor said they'll be finding bodies for weeks
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>> we aren't going anywhere >> reporter: the national guard already rescuing more than 1,000 people by air including an 83-year-old woman and her family trapped in their attic. >> i did not think we we would survive >> reporter: christy turner's two kids and husband barely escaped the floodwaters. she and her father-in-law were trapped on the porch when the waters ripped the home from the foundation >> i was just thinking how am i going to survive? how am i not going to drown? how am i going to be able to hold myself up >> reporter: tonight 12,000 people remaybe without power. 25,000 without water and 44,000 under boil advisories all as more rain continues soaking the region making cleanup for survivors even harder some areas hit with another round of flash floods >> everything has been destroyed. you couldn't destroy much anymore >> reporter: and amid all this destruction, now there is concern about excessive heat in the region. so many people are still without power or clean water. lester >> jesse, thank you. in california, deadly wildfire. the state's biggest of
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the year is ripping through a national forest area just miles from the oregon border miguel al me goer is on the front lines tonight. >> oh my god i can feel the flames from here! >> reporter: the apocalyptic landscape now commonplace, homes in ruins, trees becoming flame throwers tonight this is the scene as firefighters struggle to save anything they can. raging near the oregon border, the mckinney fire, now the biggest wildfire in california this year, is more than 85 square miles of pure destruction. nearly the size of baltimore. already claiming two lives, a pair trapped in their car when flames overtook them >> my house is gone. all my furniture, all my clothes >> reporter: the inferno is burning so hot this massive 40 toonchts foot column o smoke is creating its own weather system, lightning storms inside of it sparking new fires and fanning
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the blaze in multiple directions with 2,000 already forced out of their homes, authorities are urging residents to drop everything and evacuate but even as flames creep closer to this area these doctors aren't going anywhere. yet. >> we made the decision to stay for the hospital in case the hospital needed us. >> reporter: as the blaze explodes across mountain ranges, deputies called to rescue 60 desperate hikers on the scenic pacific crest trail. tonight the golden state red hot and once again going up in flames lester, there is still no firm number on how many homes have been destroyed. that number is easily in the dozens. some 5,000 structures still lie in the path of this fire now the weather is cooperating with firefighters today it's more of a wet and gloomy day here. that will change this fire still zero percent contained.
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lester >> all right miguel, thank you. one of the nfl's top quarterbacks deshaun watson of the cleveland browns was suspended for six games today over allegations of sexual misconduct but the order by a special judge may not be the last word on all this sam brock has late details. >> reporter: at browns practice today, business as usual for deshaun watson but off the field, shock waves and disbelief. after a disciplinary officer hired by the nfl and its players association suspended the quarterback six games without pay. concluding he engaged in sexual assault and conduct that puts at risk the integrity of the nfl. 24 women all massage therapists filed civil lawsuits for sexual assault. the disciplinary officer relied on the testimony of four of them in a ruling she stated while watson's behavior does not fall under the category of violent conduct, the allegations are more egregious than any before reviewed by the nfl.
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online, outrage. i just don't think deshaun watson should play another game in the nfl. another person writing, he got suspended one quarter for every woman he sexually assaulted that's insane. both the league and players association have three days to appeal >> one of the things the nfl likely will do is see what the reaction has been, what do the columns say and the various newspapers what are they saying on the sports talk shows? >> reporter: the final decision comes down to the commissioner watson has denied all wrongdoing, no criminal charges were filed and every civil case except one wa settled. >> he wants to be best version of himself i believe that wholeheartedly >> reporter: watson and the players union previously stated they don't plan to appeal the decision but like the nfl to do the same sam brock, nbc news, miami. in 60 seconds, abortion on the ballot in kansas. voters about to decide whether it should be restricted in the state in the first vote of its kind after the supreme court overturned roe v.
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wade why so many americans are watching it closely.
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hours from now voters in kansas will go to the polls with abortion on the ballot it's a critical test for abortion access at the state level afte the supreme court overturned roe v. wade here's dasha burns >> reporter: thi planned parenthood is one of just five abortion clinics in kansas one of the few left in the entire region. >> we're trying to really explain to kansans we have seen what the crisis looks like we know what patients' faces look like when they realize it's going to be days on the road and we're hoping that kansas people take steps to avoid that crisis here >> reporter: on tuesday, kansas will be the first state to vote on abortion since the recent supreme court decision right now the state constitution protects abortion rights here but on the ballot is the value them both amendment which if past would open the door to restrictions or a ban for months volunteers
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have been knocking on doors. they've been rallying throughout the state including here at the capitol. activists holding concerts to get voters to the polls recent polling shows 47% support the amendment and 43% oppose the rest undecided now a final push from both sides >> this is your first time canvassing and doing the whole -- >> i loved the pro-life movement my whole life. >> what's at stake here >> the right to choose >> reporter: abortion rights activists believe if the amendment passes, an abortion ban is inevitable many of those in favor of the change deny that a ban is their goal >> we are putting this decision in the hands of the people. >> reporter: if passed the conservative state legislature including representative susan humphries would determine the future of abortion in kansas. >> we'll see what happens. i honestly don't know. i haven't talked to people about it. i don't really know what is next >> reporter: why haven't you talked to people about it? it's a huge issue. why haven't you had that conversation? >> because we're
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really focused on august 2nd >> reporter: a day and decision putting physicians like dr. easley beth daley on edge >> i cannot imagine not being able to provide people health care for me, that would -- that would be really, really hard to go through. >> reporter: you're getting emotional thinking about it. >> yeah. i don't want it to stop on my watch >> reporter: the nation now watching the state that's become a bellwether. dasha burns, nbc news, kansas city, kansas. and up next for us tonight, the american journalist missing in syria for a decade my exclusive interview with his parents, their message to president biden.
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this month marks ten years since american freelance journalist austin tice disappeared in syria while covering the civil war there. recently i met up again with his parents in texas as that heartbreaking anniversary approaches the family with an urgent new plea tonight to the president. >> he's the longest held american. >> reporter: it's been a devastating decade for deborah and mark tice, ten long years without any word from their son austin who went missing in syria. i've been speaking to you for years. and you have never, ever wavered on your belief that austin is coming home. what sustains you? >> mostly my faith >> reporter: the freelance journalist and marine veteran was detained at a
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checkpoint near xhas cuss in august 2012. the last time he was seen came a month later when this video was posted online. >> we have faith that austin is going to come home. but that it's going to take some action >> reporter: the tices pushed for action with three u.s. administrations. >> i have anger with the united states government and frustration. >> reporter: in may they met with president biden and his team the president gave a very specific directive. the president said meet with the syrians. listen to them find out what they want and work with them >> do you think there is any doubt within the administration that austin is alive >> no. >> no. >> there is no doubt >> they believe he's alive? >> yes >> they do >> reporter: but three months later, no progress and tonight the tices have a message for president biden. >> i would like to tell him, mr president, you need to know that no action has been taken on your clear directive.
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>> very obvious step that needs to be taken is for somebody in the united states government to reach out directly to officials in the syrian government. >> and request the meeting. >> reporter: the tices want the u.s. to engage with syria like they were with the russians negotiate to bring home americans brittney griner and paul whelan, a strategy that worked see free trevor reid does the mpb gaugement with russia give you hope that though can engage with your son in a better way? >> well, i mean for me, it tells me that it's absolutely possible for our government to interact with the syrian government >> reporter: tonight the tice family remains hopeful even as they celebrate another birthday without their son. austin will turn 40 next week. >> we have the kind of peace that he's alive and waiting for us
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>> we reached out to the white house and responded said they're engaged extensively with syrian officials to try to bring austin home but that syria has never acknowledged holding him. up next tonight, honoring nba hall of famer bill russell and his powerful legacy in civil rights
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finally, nba legend bill russell who died this weekend at age 88 is being remembered as well tonight as a champion of civil rights.
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here's anne thompson >> bill russell, the backbone of the world champion boston celtics. >> reporter: bill russell never backed down on the court or off it while winning an unmatched 11 nba titles in 13 years with the boston celtics, he used his fame and stature to fight for civil rights >> i did what i thought i could do to help change it >> it is very easy to hide your head in the sand you know, when you make money and things are going well for you, you don't want to risk it. but he was willing to put everything on the line to use his position to move our society forward. >> reporter: he led a walkout of black celtics players when they were refused service at a kentucky restaurant in 1961 joined dr. martin luther king jr. in the march on washington and sported mohammed ali, then called cassius clay >> nine top negro athletes meet with
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cashious clay to discuss his activist stand. >> reporter: russell was asked to be a paul bearer at jackie robinson's funeral he was described as a flea market of racism, the star was taunted and heckled, his home vandalized four decades later -- >> bill russell the man is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. >> reporter: president obama giving russell the presidential medal of freedom and a thank you. >> he just said that it was guys like me that made it possible for him to be president. >> reporter: today in boston, there is a statue of russell not at the boston garden but in city hall plaza, a champion for all. anne thompson, nbc news and that's "nightly news" for this monday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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if you're a threat to our people, the united states will find you and take you out. >> and right now on nbc bay area news, the top al qaeda leader killed. what they revealed about the top secret mission. governor newsom declaring a statewide emergency over monkeypox. what this now means. and rare summer rain across the bay area. we're not done. jeff ranieri has an updated forecast. another reason to avoid covid. the potential link of getting covid the second time and suffering from what they call long covid. we're talking to the


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