• Friends recall indications of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s growing radicalization

    In the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, FBI agents interviewed two friends of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who, with his brother Dzhokhar, planted bombs at the marathon on 15 April. A paralegal on the defense team read aloud portions of notes from the interviews at the sentencing phase of Dzhokhar’s trial on Tuesday. Both friends — Viskhan Vakhabov, who was born in Chechnya and who lived in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan before moving to Chelsea in 2004, and Russian-born Magomed Dolakov – said they noticed Tamerlan’s growing radicalization.

  • California drought highlights the state’s economic divide

    As much of Southern California enters into the spring and warmer temperatures, the effects of California’s historic drought begin to manifest themselves in the daily lives of residents, highlighting the economic inequality in the ways people cope. Following Governor Jerry Brown’s (D) unprecedented water rationing regulations,wealthier Californians weigh on which day of the week no longer to water their grass, while those less fortunate are now choosing which days they skip a bath.

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  • Water scarcity increase Middle East instability

    At least1.6 billion people worldwide face water scarcity because their countries lack the necessary infrastructure to move water from rivers and aquifers. In the Middle East, this lack of water infrastructure combines with the effects of global warming — including prolonged in droughts — to make the entire region politically and economically unstable. Food supplies are diminished as farmers find it difficult to find water for crops, and even basic sanitary requirements are not met due to poor access to clean water, thus increasing the spread of disease.

  • Despite persistent questions, support for use of drones against terrorists remains strong

    The CIA counterterrorism program which captured, interrogated, and tortured al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons was criticized by lawmakers, including Senate Democrats who questioned the secrecy of the program. Many of those same lawmakers overwhelmingly support CIA targeted drone missions aimed at killing terror suspects and militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. Some lawmakers say it is time to move the drone program to the Pentagon. “I can understand when it was a very small operation why it would be done by the intelligence agency, such as U-2s and other reconnaissance aircraft, for many years,” says Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). “Now it’s reached the point where it’s an integral part of the conflict and a very essential one, so I think it should be conducted and oversight and administered by the Department of Defense.”

  • Israel attacks in Syria, destroying Hezbollah-bound arms

    The Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched two attacks on targets located inside Syria army bases – the first attacks took place on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, and the second wave of attacks took place the night between Friday and Saturday. The targets destroyed in the attacks were Iran-made long-range missiles which the Assad regime stored and maintained for Hezbollah, the Shi’a Lebanese militia. Since January 2013, the IAF conducted ten such attacks – the attacks Wednesday night and Friday night were attacks number nine and ten.

  • Montreal school struggles to explain why its students join ISIS

    Just months after five students at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuveleft Canada to join the Islamic State in Syria, a young couple, El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djaermane, who attended the same school, were arrested last Tuesday for what police allege were plans to commit terrorist acts. Since the arrest, school officials have met with terrorism and extremism experts to help analyze if the school itself had been a breeding ground for extremists. Some locals familiar with the school have pointed fingers at Adil Charkaoui, an Islamic leader in Montreal who rents the school’s facilities for a weekend Muslim youth group, and was once probed by federal agents as a suspected al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

  • Increased al-Shabaab attacks in East Africa a sign of weakness: Experts

    Somali-based al-Shabaab is increasing its guerrilla-style attacks in East Africa, but terrorism experts say the attacks are the results of the group losing its ability to fight and win on the battlefield. In the past few years, the United States has supported, with arms and training, an African Union force to carry out missions against al-Shabaab in Somalia’s major towns and urban areas. That has forced al-Shabaab to retreat to small villages, where they still collect taxes to fund their operations throughout East Africa.

  • To prevent Iranian nukes, a negotiated deal better than a military strike: David Albright

    David Albright is the founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), and author of several books on fissile materials and nuclear weapons proliferation. In a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, and an interview with Deutsche Welle on Thursday, Albrights says that there is every reason to be suspicious of Iran because it has cheated on its obligations in the past and has been uncooperative on an ongoing basis. Iran has also built many sites in secret, so any agreement with Iran should have extra insurance — a more powerful inspection and verification tool to try to ferret out any secret nuclear activities or facilities that Iran would build. Still, a negotiated deal, if it includes sufficiently robust inspection and verification measures, would be a more effective way than a military strike to make sure Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

  • Fusion centers, created to fight domestic terrorism, suffering from mission creep: Critics

    Years before the 9/11 attacks, law enforcement agencies throughout the country, alarmed by the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, began to monitor and investigate signs of domestic terrorism. That increased monitoring, and the need for coordination among various law enforcement agencies, gave rise to the fusion centers. A new report, which is supported by current and former law enforcement and government officials, concludes that post-9/11, fusion centers and the FBI teams which work with them shifted their focus from domestic terrorism to global terrorism and other crimes, including drug trafficking.Experts say that at a time when the number of domestic terrorism threats, many of which are linked to right-wing extremist groups, is surging, law enforcement must refocus their attention on the threats from within.

  • Drug cartels, terrorists may cooperate in smuggling materials for a nuclear device into U.S.

    Detonating a nuclear device or dirty bomb in the United States has long been goal of terrorists groups including al-Qaeda. Doing so, however, would require access to nuclear materials and a way to smuggle them into the country. Experts note the nexus between drug organizations, crime groups, and violent extremists and the trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials. A new report points out that al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Colombia’s FARC are the three organizations with the motivation and capability to obtain a radiological or nuclear device.

  • Yemen chaos makes the country a haven for an al-Qaeda affiliate

    Over the past year, while ISIS gained control of vast territories in Syria and Iraq, U.S. drone strikes and military raids in Yemen drove al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) into hiding. The current chaos in Yemen’s multi-sided war, however, has allowed AQAP militants to recreate a haven which counterterrorism experts say could help it launch terrorist attacks. U.S. officials acknowledge the changes on the ground, but say U.S. strategy has not changed. “Our efforts have to change their character but remain steady in their intensity,” said Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

  • In South Africa, bomber of apartheid era nuclear power plant is a hero, not a terrorist

    In December 1982, Rodney Wilkinson planted four bombs that caused $519 million in damages at the Koeberg nuclear power plant north of Cape Town, South Africa. The attack, which many believe to be the most ambitious and successful terror attack against a nuclear facility, remains a symbol of African National Congress (ANC) war against South Africa’s then-apartheid government. The 1982 Koeberg assault, however, and a 2007 raidby two yet-to-be-identified armed groups on South Africa’s Pelindaba nuclear research site, are at the root of U.S. concerns about the safety of South Africa’s roughly 485 pounds stockpile of highly enriched uranium.

  • Hope for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria dimming even as Boko Haram loses steam

    On the night of 14-15 April 2014, the northern Nigerian militant group Boko Haram raided the small town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria. Over 200 schoolgirls were abducted and spirited away to unknown locations. A year later, despite a world-wide outcry, the 219 girls are still missing. Will a stronger anti-Boko Haram coalition and a new president be able to rescue the Chibok girls? It grows more unlikely each day that passes without their rescue. The girls who haven’t yet been sold into the sex or domestic servant trade may be dead, or stashed away deep in the recesses of Boko Haram-controlled territory. Nigeria needs to acknowledge that kidnapped individuals, much like those captured by ISIS in the Middle East, are unlikely to be seen alive again. Rather than dwelling on the security failures of the Jonathan regime, however, the schoolgirls could become a renewed source of inspiration for anti-corruption and anti-Boko Haram efforts in the region. A rallying cry for a new path forward can be created by resurrecting the memories of one of Boko Haram’s most unforgettable attacks.

  • Strong evidence that Syrian government used chemicals in attacks on three cities

    Evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with cylinders of chlorine gas on three towns in Northern Syria in mid-April 2014, Human Rights Watch said earlier this week. These attacks used an industrial chemical as a weapon, an act banned by the international treaty prohibiting chemical weapons that Syria joined in October 2013. The Syrian government is the only party to the conflict with helicopters and other aircraft.

  • Pressures grow to release docs which would clarify Saudi involvement in 9/11 attacks

    About fourteen years after the 9/11 attacks, there remains a disagreement among former and current U.S. intelligence officials on whether Saudi Arabia or individuals connected to the Saudi Royal family helped finance the attacks or had knowledge of the attacks before  it occurred. Lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks now want twenty-eight pages of investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the 9/11 attacks declassified, on the grounds that those pages may clear up confusion about Saudi involvement. President George W. Bush ordered the twenty-eight pages classified when the rest of the report was released in December 2002.