Police officer secure the Stachus hotel after a shooting was reported at a nearby shopping mall in Munich,
Sven Hoppe / dpa via AP
July 22, 2016

Deadly Shooting At Munich Shopping Mall Called "Suspected Terrorism"

Police in Munich, Germany, say 10 people were killed, including the likely attacker, in Friday morning's shooting rampage in the Bavarian capital. They say the deceased suspect is an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich. The gunman opened fire in a crowded shopping mall and at a nearby McDonalds. Investigators say the shooter killed himself, and acted alone.

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A Police car is parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A s
Christian Alminana/Associated Press
July 14, 2016

Scores Dead After Truck Plows Into Bastille Day Crowd In Nice, France

A truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades has plowed through a crowd of people on a sidewalk in the French resort city of Nice during Bastille Day, killing at least 80 people. Local officials say the truck was on the sidewalk for more than a mile before police killed the driver.  Anti-terrorist investigators have taken over the case.

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Blown out windows of Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium, after a deadly attack.
Peter Dejong/AP
March 22, 2016

Terrorist Bombing Strikes Brussels Airport: What We Know

The Associated Press reports that the Islamic State group claimed responsibiltiy for attacks at the international airport and a subway station in the Belgian city of Brussells has left at least 30 people dead and at least 150 wounded. A Belgian federal prosecutor says one of the terror attacks was probably the work of a suicide bomber. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says authorities are worried there will be more attacks.

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June 03, 2014

Justice Department Renews Focus On Homegrown Terrorists

The U.S. has devoted billions of dollars to fighting terrorism overseas in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Justice Department is increasingly warning about the danger posed by radicals on American soil, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wants prosecutors and FBI agents to devote more attention to the threat.

Nearly two decades ago, after the Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, the Justice Department launched a group to fight domestic terrorism.

That group was set to meet on Sept. 11, 2001, but the meeting got canceled and the idea shelved as the U.S. turned to fight terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Now Holder will relaunch the group — focused this time on homegrown extremists.

"The threat from al-Qaida is much more diffuse after Sept. 11, and the threats posed by a single horribly misguided citizen or permanent legal resident in the U.S. is in a sense as great as what core al-Qaida posed before Sept. 11," says Neil MacBride, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Threats like the deadly shootings at Jewish facilities in Kansas this year, the attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six people in 2012 and a bomb designed to detonate at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Wash. The man involved in that 2011 case got 32 years in prison.

Beth Wilkinson, who helped prosecute the Oklahoma City bomber, says any system that promotes sharing information between the Justice Department and the FBI makes sense.

"In many cases, and we saw one in Oklahoma City, there are individual events that sometimes could trigger the need for an investigation," Wilkinson says. "Sometimes those events don't get noticed and don't get put together with events in other states or other jurisdictions."

Wilkinson says she's not sure there's another Oklahoma City-type threat these days — but more attention to the issues can't hurt.

"Better to put the task force together early, and if there isn't a large national problem, then great. And if there is such problem, then law enforcement will be prepared," Wilkinson says.

Listen

A woman wiped away tears Monday in Volgograd, Russia, after the second suicide bombing in that city in the past two days.
(Denis Tyrin/AP)
December 30, 2013

'Blood On The Snow' After Second Suicide Blast In Russia

There's shock in the southern Russian city of Volgograd after what appears to have been the second suicide bombing in two days.

Monday morning's blast "tore through an electric bus ... killing 14," The Associated Press reports. About 30 other people were wounded.

The carnage follows Sunday's explosion at the city's main train station — a suicide attack that killed at least 17 people. Another 40 or so were injured by that blast.

Near the scene of Monday's bombing, Reuters writes, a woman choked back tears as she spoke: "For the second day, we are dying. It's a nightmare," she said. "What are we supposed to do, just walk now?"

The BBC says that "Maksim Akhmetov, a Russian TV reporter who was at the scene of the blast, said the trolleybus was packed with people going to work in the morning rush hour. He described the scene as 'terrible,' adding that the bus was 'ravaged' and that there were 'bodies everywhere, blood on the snow.' "

Just as after Sunday's explosion, Russian officials are pointing at Chechen rebels who want to create a separate Islamist state in the Caucuses as those who are likely responsible. The AP writes that:

"Officials did not name names and no one has claimed responsibility for either bombing, but they came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the [upcoming] Olympics in Sochi [about 400 miles away].

"Suicide bombings and other terror attacks have rocked Russia for years, but most recently have been confined to the North Caucasus region. The successive attacks in Volgograd signaled that militants may be using the transportation hub as a renewed way of showing their reach outside their restive region."

The AP also reminds readers that Volgograd, formerly called Stalingrad, also may have been targeted since it "serves as an important symbol of Russian pride because of a historic World War II battle in which the Soviets turned the tide against the Nazis."

On Morning Edition, NPR Moscow correspondent Corey Flintoff said that Umarov has called February's Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, "Satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors. There's actually some history behind that. The alpine events of the Olympics are taking place in an area where the Russian empire declared victory in its conquest of the North Caucuses way back in 1864."

As for security during the Games, Corey said "some security experts are saying that the real danger may lie in other parts of the country — Volgograd could be an example of that."


Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
(Margaret Small/AP)
July 10, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 counts including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

He entered the plea Wednesday in federal court in Boston.

For the first one, he leaned toward a microphone and said, "Not guilty,'' in a Russian accent. He then said not guilty repeatedly about a half-dozen more times.

His sister sobbed loudly as he left the courtroom. He looked over and made a kiss motion with his mouth to his family.

Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to pursue the death penalty for the 19-year-old Tsarnaev.

Authorities say he and an older brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 at the April 15 marathon. The older brother was killed three days later following a shootout with police.


 A new photo of suspect-at-large Dzhokar Tsarnaev has been released by the FBI:
(Federal Bureau of Investigation)
June 27, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspect Indicted; Could Face Death Penalty

A federal grand jury handed down a 30-count indictment against the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing today. Dzohkhar Tsarnaev is scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Boston on July 10.

The charges against Tsarnaev, 19, include killing four people and using weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts announced on its Twitter feed. The attacks also injured more than 250 people.

Update at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Speaking at a new conference announcing the charges Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz summarized the string of violent events that began with the marathon bombing and ended with Dzohkhar Tsarnaev's capture in Watertown, Mass., on April 19.

Ortiz said that Tsarnaev could face a punishment of life in prison, and possibly the death penalty.

"Seventeen of the charges authorize a penalty of up to life in prison or the death penalty," according to a press release announcing the indictment. "The remaining charges authorize a maximum penalty of life in prison or a fixed term of years."

The indictment says that "no later than February 2013," Tsarnaev and his late brother, Tamerlan, began working on a plot to use explosives to kill people in a public place.

Update at 1:43 p.m. ET. Other Charges:

David Abel, a reporter for The Boston Globe, has been tweeting some details of the charges against Tsarnaev. He reports that in addition to the deaths of three people at the marathon, Tsarnaev is charged with the murder of MIT police Officer Sean Collier. Abel adds:

"Tsarnaev charges include 'bombing of a place of public use' and 'malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy.'

"More charges against Tsarnaev: 'carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; interference with commerce by threats or violence.'

"17 charges authorize life imprisonment or the death penalty of Tsarnaev."


May 30, 2013

Would-be Chicago Backpack Bomber Gets 23 years

A federal judge has sentenced a Lebanese immigrant to 23 years in prison for placing a backpack he believed contained a bomb along a bustling street near the Chicago Cubs' baseball stadium.

Sami Samir Hassoun was sentenced Thursday, little more than a month after the Boston Marathon bomb attack.
The 25-year-old former baker pleaded guilty last year to dropping the backpack into a trash can outside a bar packed with late-night revelers across the road from Wrigley Field in 2010. FBI undercover agents had given him the bag.

The defense depicted Hassoun as a uniquely gullible youth sucked into the sting during an alcohol-addled stretch of his life by an informant eager to please his FBI handlers.

But prosecutors say he declined repeated opportunities to back out of the plot.


Waliur Rehman
(Rasool Dawar/AP)
May 29, 2013

Pakistan Taliban: Senior Leader 'Killed in US Drone Strike'

The second-in-command of the Pakistani Taliban has been killed in a suspected US drone strike, a senior Taliban source told the BBC.

The Pakistani Taliban leadership has not officially confirmed the death of Waliur Rehman so far.

Earlier, Pakistani security officials said a local Taliban commander was among casualties in the raid.

Missiles hit a house close to the town of Miranshah, in north-west Pakistan, early on Wednesday.

The strike is the first for almost six weeks.

It comes a week after President Barack Obama issued new guidelines for tighter scrutiny of the US drone programme and stricter targeting rules.

'Condemnation'

A senior Taliban source in Miranshah told the BBC that Waliur Rehman died in the strike, which killed at least six suspected militants.

The US government had placed a $5m (£3.3m) bounty on his head, accusing him of involvement in attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. These included the 2009 bombing of a US base in which seven CIA agents were killed.

The White House said it cannot confirm the killing of Waliur Rehman.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad says that if it is confirmed, Washington will see this as a considerable victory.

A White House spokesman said that if Mr Rehman has been killed it would deprive the Pakistan Taliban of their chief military strategist.

However our correspondent notes that confirming who has been killed by a drone strike can take days or weeks because the strikes happen in remote areas that are often under militant control.

On at least two occasions, Waliur Rehman is reported to have been killed in previous strikes.

Drone attacks are a major point of contention in Pakistan, and were a key issue in its recent elections.

A Pakistani foreign ministry official condemned the strike as a breach of sovereignty. "Any drone strike is against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan," the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters news agency.

The latest attack comes at a particularly sensitive time, observers say.

Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, is about to form a government following elections earlier this month.

Defiant

Local residents told the BBC that a compound was hit on Wednesday morning about 3km (1.8 miles) east of Miranshah, the administrative centre of the North Waziristan tribal region.

They said it was being used by Pakistan Taliban fighters from neighbouring South Waziristan region who moved their bases to the area in 2009 to escape a military operation.

Pakistan initially offered covert support for drone strikes but has over the years become more defiant, saying such strikes are "counter-productive" and a "violation of sovereignty".

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that any strike against the Pakistan Taliban would be welcomed by Pakistani officials because the group has for several years been exclusively focused on pursuing Pakistani - rather than Afghan - military and civilian targets.

The strike is the first since Pakistan's 11 May elections which have brought to the fore groups that oppose such attacks and are seen as feeding on anti-Americanism.

Our correspondent says the strike is seen as an early message from Washington that legitimate targets in Pakistan's tribal regions will continue to be targeted by drones unless Pakistanis themselves are able to neutralise those targets or dismantle militant sanctuaries in them.

Last Friday President Obama defended the use of drones as a "just war" of self-defence against militants and a campaign that had made America safer.

He said there must be "near certainty" that no civilians would die in such strikes. Drone attacks should only be used amid a "continuing, imminent threat" to the US where no other options are available, the guidelines say.

The Afghan-Pakistan border region is home to a variety of local and Afghan militant groups including fighters linked to al-Qaeda.

Pakistan's security forces have long been accused by the US on not doing enough to fight the Taliban in the mountains of North Waziristan.


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