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CIA kills top Al-Qaida operative in drone strike

WASHINGTON — An armed drone operated by the CIA this week killed a top al-Qaida operative responsible for plotting terror attacks inside Pakistan, two U.S. officials said Thursday.

The killing of Abu Hafs al-Shariri occurred Sunday, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. It is the latest strike in the CIA’s campaign of targeted killings of al-Qaida operatives that has intensified under the Obama administration.

The strike comes less than a month after a CIA drone killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who was promoted to become al-Qaida’s second-ranking operative after the death of Osama bin Laden in May. The CIA in recent months has also killed Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani militant commander who worked closely with al-Qaida’s leadership.

Little is known publicly about al-Shariri, a Saudi whom a senior administration official said acted as a liaison between al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban, the group that has directed a wave of attacks against Pakistani government installations and hotels frequented by Westerners. According to an Interpol alert, al-Shariri was 33.

—Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times

Bohner affirms no-tax-increase stance

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday rejected tax increases as part of a sweeping effort to reduce the nation’s debt, delivering his prescription for a congressional deficit-cutting committee ahead of a competing presentation by President Barack Obama early next week.

Boehner urged the new bipartisan committee to focus on cuts in federal spending and entitlement programs as a way of slowing the growth of government. He said tax increases should be “off the table” as the committee works toward a late-November deadline.

“It’s a very simple equation,” Boehner said in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington. “Tax increases destroy jobs. And the joint committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.”

In his speech, Boehner warned against the use of what he called “gimmicks” to lower the debt. But he hinted that there might be areas for compromise that could be acceptable to his members.

—Michael D. Shear and Emmarie Huetteman,

The New York Times

Amnesty program yields millions more in back taxes

More than 12,000 U.S. taxpayers have voluntarily revealed their secret offshore bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service as part of the government’s latest tax amnesty program, agency officials said Thursday. The move will allow the U.S. Treasury to collect at least $500 million in unpaid taxes.

The voluntary disclosure program, which was in effect from February until last week, is part of an initiative to deter tax evasion via offshore bank accounts. Since the IRS began its previous amnesty program in 2009, more than 30,000 taxpayers have reported their secret overseas accounts, and the federal government has collected $2.7 billion in taxes and penalties.

The United States began its most recent offensive against offshore tax evasion in 2009, when the Justice Department reached a settlement with the Swiss bank UBS that required it to pay $780 million and reveal details about 4,500 clandestine accounts that were believed to hold undeclared assets of U.S. residents. Although the Swiss government has yet to authorize the release of information about those accounts, Douglas H. Shulman, the IRS commissioner, said that the agency would continue to pressure tax evaders to come forward or face prosecution.

—David Kocieniewski, The New York Times