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President Obama set out a new approach to the war on terror, arguing that since al Qaeda's core was "on the path to defeat," the US should narrow its operations to focus only on those "specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America." Renewing his commitment to closing Guantanamo, he announced the removal of a moratorium on sending detainees to Yemen. He issued a new directive on drone strikes, narrowing the circumstances to those targets who cannot be captured and who present "a continuing and imminent threat to the United States," and he expressed a preference for the military rather than the CIA to conduct the strikes. He said the scale of the terrorist threat now "closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11."
The government acknowledged that US drone strikes have killed four US citizens in Pakistan and Yemen, including Anwar al Awlaki, who planned a jetliner bombing over Detroit in 2009 and had a key role in a 2010 plot to bomb US-bound cargo planes. Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen acquaintance of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was shot dead by an FBI agent in Orlando, Fla. after lunging with a knife at the agent during questioning; the former Boston resident was being questioned by the FBI about links to Tsarnaev as well as an unsolved triple murder in 2011, and planned on returning to Chechnya. The US is said to be looking at more than five suspects in the September 2012 Benghazi attack.
A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government need not release photographs of the corpse of Osama bin Laden. The court accepted the contention of the Obama administration that the CIA could keep the photographs secret, as an exception to the Freedom of Information Act, because their release might put Americans abroad at risk.
The State Department added Al Nusrah Front emir Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Julani ito its list of global terrorists. The FBI is questioning New Hampshire resident Musa Khadzhimuratov, a Chechen refugee and former separatist fighter, about his ties to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. In Idaho, Uzbek national Fazliddin Kurbanov pled not guilty to charges of supporting the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and teaching people how to bomb public transportation.
Fazliddin Kurbanov, an Uzbek, was arrested in Boise, Idaho and charged with helping the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to build a weapon of mass destruction for a terrorist act overseas. Authorities have found that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a message claiming responsibility for the attack and saying it was "collateral damage" and retribution for US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Marshals Service has lost track of two "identified as known or suspected terrorists" who formerly participated in the federal witness protection program; both are thought to be now outside the US.
The White House released emails relating to the attack on the Benghazi consulate; they show revisions of talking points to delete references to al Qaeda, Islamic extremists, and FBI warnings. Seven people were caught trespassing at a reservoir that supplies water to Boston and 40 other communities. The trespassers, who are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, told police that their "education and career interests" drew them to the site. Checks on public water supplies across the state have been stepped up, and the FBI is investigating. Law enforcement officials are examining evidence in an unsolved Sept. 11, 2011 triple murder case that may be linked to Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
A judge handed down sentences to several Somali men associated with the al Qaeda-linked Shabaab. Yesterday Kamal Said Hassan, who participated in an ambush of Ethiopian troops, was sentenced to 10 years in prison; and Mahamud Said Omar, a key Shabaab recruiter, to 20 years in prison. Today Abdifatah Yusuf Isse and Salah Osman Ahmed, who attended a Shabab training camp, were each sentenced to three years in prison; Omer Abdi Mohamed, a Shabaab recruiter, to 12 years; and Ahmed Hussein Mahamud, who funded jihadist travel to Somalia, to three years. Three more people will be sentenced this week in related cases.
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of Associated Press phone records in an investigation likely tied to the disclosure of a foiled al Qaeda plot in May 2012. Federal officials warned about a new wave of cyberattacks originating in the Middle East that are primarily targeting the administrative systems of major US energy companies; in a new development, the attacks appear designed for sabotage, not espionage.
White House documents show that the administration's talking points on the September 2012 Benghazi attack were revised 12 times and scrubbed of references to CIA warnings and the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al Sharia group that perpetrated the attack. The US penalized additional entities for violating Iran sanctions. Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was already a jihadist when he traveled to Russia in 2012, according to his cousin Magomed Kartashov, a leading Dagestani Salafist. Al Qaeda sympathizer Ahmed Abassi, who faces charges in a plot to bomb a passenger train, also had proposed poisoning US air and water.
Tunisian national Ahmed Abassi was indicted on visa fraud charges related to an alleged al Qaeda plot to bomb a passenger train traveling between Canada and the US. Three State Deptartment officials with firsthand knowledge of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi testified that the administration should have done more to prevent the attack, to mitigate its severity, and to recognize its nature. The Boston police commissioner testified that his department was not aware of the Russian warning or the FBI inquiry on bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston Marathon attack.
A Pentagon report blamed the Chinese government and military for cyberattacks on US governmental and defense contracting websites, and suggested cyberwarfare has become part of Chinese military strategy. A US diplomat in Tripoli said special operations assistance during the 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate was requested but denied. Robel Phillipos, a student linked to the Boston Marathon bombing case, was released on bail.
The FBI has found radical Islamist material, including al Qaeda's online magazine, on the computer of the widow of slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A federal judge reversed a lower court's decision to release would-be jihadist Abdella Ahmad Tounisi to home confinement, saying he is a flight risk. Tounisi's family apparently knew of his plans to travel to Syria to fight with the al Qaeda-linked Al Nusrah Front.
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told authorities that he and his brother Tamerlan built the bombs using instructions from al Qaeda's online magazine, and that they originally intended to detonate them at Boston's July 4 celebration. The brothers had also viewed Internet sermons by slain al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al Awlaki. The FBI recently sent more investigators to Russia to help with the case. A Pentagon report said North Korea's continuing development of its nuclear technology and long-range missiles may enable it to ultimately strike the US with an atomic weapon.
Federal prosecutors charged three acquaintances of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with helping to cover up the crime. Kazakhstan nationals Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are accused of deliberately destroying evidence; and Robel Philippos, a US citizen, is accused of lying to investigators. The three young men are not accused of having prior knowledge of the plot. The FBI released images of three persons of interest in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
President Obama suggested that Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were "self-radicalized." The FBI is said to be seeking information on nearly a dozen persons of interest in the case. A senior Saudi Arabian official said his government warned the US and the UK about Tamerlan in 2012 and denied him entry to visit Mecca in December 2011. The Obama administration is considering sending lethal aid to the Syrian rebels.
Investigators in the Boston Marathon bombing case found female DNA on one of the bombs, and collected material from the home of the widow of Tamarlan Tsarnaev, one of the bombers. Russian officials said Tamarlan was in contact with two North Caucasus militants, Mansur Makhmud Nidal, a jihadist recruiter from Dagestan, and William Plotnikov, a Canadian Islamist in Dagestan.
Two US Congressmen said there are "persons of interest" in the Boston Marathon bombing case who are in the United States. The parents of the two known suspects in the case, the Tsarnaev brothers, canceled plans to return to the US from southern Russia.
Russian authorities this week turned over information about Boston Marathon bomber Tamarlan Tsarnaev and his mother Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, including the fact that mother and son discussed jihad in a telephone conversation in 2011, and that Zubeidat also spoke about jihad with a man in Russia who is under investigation by the FBI. Mother and son were added to the CIA's terrorism database in late 2011. Regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, the US has said it seeks "strong evidence" before deciding on a response.
Surviving Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that he and his older brother Tamarlan intended to drive to New York City and detonate additional explosives in Times Square after the Boston bombings. Tamarlan's phone number was linked to two other terrorism investigations.
Secretary of State Kerry asked NATO to consider its preparedness regarding Syria's chemical weapons. The Treasury Department designated two Lebanese financial institutions as criminal enterprises, accusing them of money laundering for Hezbollah. Charges against a man suspected of sending ricin to the White House and the Senate were dropped; he believes he was framed. The so-called Syrian Electronic Army briefly hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press with a false report that President Obama had been injured.