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.


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.


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.

May 15, 2013

White House Releases Trove of Benghazi Documents

Under mounting pressure, President Barack Obama has released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi attack and forced out the top official at the Internal Revenue Service following revelations that the agency targeted conservative political groups.

The moves are aimed at halting a growing perception among both White House opponents and allies that the president has been passive and disengaged as controversies consume his second term.

The White House also asked Congress to revive a media shield law that would protect journalists from having to reveal information. The step is seen as a response to the Justice Department subpoenas of phone records from reporters and editors at The Associated Press.

The flurry of activity signaled a White House anxious to regain control amid the trio of deepening controversies.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev
(Bob Leonard/AP)
May 10, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspect Buried In Secret At Virginia Cemetery

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been interred at a Muslim cemetery in central Virginia after a in which a Massachusetts funeral director sought in vain to find a burial location.

The Associated Press reports that a burial was conducted in secret after the body was transferred on Thursday, ending "a frustrating search for a community willing to take the body, which had been kept at a funeral parlor in Worcester, Mass., as cemeteries in Massachusetts and several other states refused to accept the remains."

Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland, said his nephew was interred at the Virginia cemetery with the help of a faith coalition.

"The body's buried," he said. "That's it."

Reuters quotes Ammar Amonette, imam of the Islamic Center of Virginia, as saying he disapproved of the decision, which was done "without our knowledge or consent."

"We are quite upset. It's affected thousands of Muslims and we were not consulted. It has nothing to do with us," he told the news agency.

May 03, 2013

Feds: Judge Wrong to OK Terrorist Suspect Release

Prosecutors say a federal magistrate judge made a mistake by agreeing to let a teenage terrorist suspect in Illinois out of jail pending trial.

A different judge will hear the government's appeal opposing Abdella Ahmad Tounisi's release Friday. Thursday's release order was stayed for 24 hours until a ruling on the appeal.

The 18-year-old Aurora teen is accused of seeking to join al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria.

Prosecutors say Tounisi helped a friend last year select possible bombing targets in the Chicago-area. Tounisi wasn't charged in that case, though his friend was.

Tounisi's lawyer notes he has no prior criminal record. But prosecutors' 16-page filing says that's irrelevant. 

It says Tounisi has expressed a wish to die a martyr and that a terrorist crime typically ``may only be committed once.''

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
(Bob Leonard/AP)
May 02, 2013

Remains of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Claimed

The body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been claimed.

Massachusetts Department of Public Safety spokesman Terrel Harris says a funeral home retained by Tsarnaev's family picked up his body Thursday. He has no more information.

Tsarnaev's widow in Rhode Island had wanted his side of the family to claim his body. His uncle in Maryland had said the family would claim it.

Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with authorities.

Police have said he ran out of ammunition before his younger brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing the scene.

Brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.

Their mother says the allegations are lies.

May 02, 2013

Feds to Appeal Release of Chicago Terrorist Suspect

Federal prosecutors in Chicago say they'll appeal a judge's decision to release an Illinois teenager accused of wanting to join terrorists in Syria.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced their plan to appeal Thursday afternoon in the case of 18-year-old Abdella Ahmad Tounisi. Hours earlier, the judge said Tounisi could be released under home confinement. But the judge stayed his own order for 24 hours to give prosecutors a chance to appeal. That means Tounisi wasn't immediately released.

A hearing before another judge, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang, is set for Friday morning. If he upholds the release, the Aurora teen could be released Friday.

Tounisi allegedly intended to join a terrorist group in war-torn Syria when he was arrested at a Chicago airport last month.

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