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We’ve got the latest on the Boston Marathon bombing, tracking updates from a variety of news sources and witnesses. At least two are dead and up to 23 injured.
[Above photo via Twitter]
This week’s Newsweek cover: How ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ predicts the future. The story, by Daniel Klaidman, explores the question: Could the Obama administration someday announce that the “war on terror” is over? Klaidman reports on the growing signs that the administration may be debating when to consider the war “finished.”
It’s a question that President Obama has quietly discussed with his closest advisers. He has raised the issue publicly only in the vaguest terms: when he said, to rousing cheers on election night, that “a decade of war is ending,” it sounded more like a reference to Afghanistan and Iraq than a statement about the war on terror as a whole. Yet behind the scenes, Obama has led a persistent internal conversation about whether America should remain engaged in a permanent, ever-expanding state of war, one that has pushed the limits of the law, stretched dwindling budgets, and at times strained relations with our allies. “This has always been a concern of the President’s,” says a former military adviser to Obama. “He’s uncomfortable with the idea of war without end.” It is still considered politically treacherous for anyone, especially Democrats, to question whether war is the right framework for fighting terrorism. But just as the intelligence and military communities were criticized twelve years ago for having had too much of a “pre-9/11 mentality,” some in the administration have now begun to gingerly ask whether we today have too much of a “post-9/11” mentality. Or, as one adviser to Obama recently put it to me, “Is it time to start winding down the state of emergency?”
Barack Obama, moments ago: ”I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency that was declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.”
Before she turned herself into a bomb, Aminat Saprykina was a professional actress and dancer in Dagestan. At the peak of her theatrical career, she performed the lead role of a charming witch, Olesya, in Alexander Kuprin’s Forest Witches. Fellow actors remember her as a joyful girl and a graceful break-dancer. A video from that period of her life features the future mass murderer dressed in a sexy black skirt, swirling in a dance.
But after her conversion to Islam, Saprykina took another name: Kurbanova. And it was with this name that she became at least the 42nd female suicide bomber in the last decade in Russia, according to Caucasian Knot, an online news source that has been tracking the disturbing trend.
Last week, the 30-year old ethnic Russian took a taxi to the home village of Dagestan’s most influential Sufi Muslim leader, Sheikh Afandi, and entered his house, which was full of kneeling believers. She then blew herself up, killing the Sheikh and at least seven of his followers.
Anna Nemtsova looks at the region fostering one of the most disturbing threats to peace in Russia: female terrorists.
This is alleged to be the suicide bomber in Bulgaria, who died when his backpack exploded on or near a bus of Israeli tourists. He’s a white dude with shoulder length hair. Take that, racial profilers.
Update: Might be a wig.
Update2: He was a detainee at Gitmo from 2002 to 2004. Also, might not be a wig after all.
Update3: Let’s add an allegedly to Update2.
Update4: Born in Sweden.
Update5: From @BreakingNews on Twitter: “US intelligence officials say no evidence former Guantanamo Bay detainee is suspected suicide bomber in Bulgaria bus attack - @NBCNews.” So! This is a very fluid situation.
An article in the Apr 12, 2010 issue of Newsweek argues the killing of radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki would do more harm than good, as his links to attacks on American targets are speculative (at the time, administration officials today would likely disagree) and it’s not even known for certain if he is a member of al Qaeda.
As the lawyers and judge who will try Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab move this week to outline the contours of his hearing, the Obama administration is trying to prevent a repeat attack. The White House announced last week that the CIA will try to assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, the Qaeda-linked American citizen living in Yemen who tutored Abdulmutallab. Awlaki will be hard to find—he is currently hiding in southern Yemen, protected by his powerful tribe—but if a drone operator has a shot, he will take it.
Today, a drone operator took that shot. Awlaki was killed. In the coming days, the Obama administration will have to defend its decision in taking out an American citizen by a drone-fired missile.
The rationale here seems self-evident. First, Awlaki has already been linked to two recent attacks in the U.S.: Abdulmutallab’s attempted bombing and also the Fort Hood rampage, where Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting spree at his home base, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others. (Hasan was advised over the Internet by Awlaki.) Second, Awlaki’s ability to speak English and recruit Westernized Muslims poses a continuing threat: just last month, he called on Muslims living in the United States to carry out similar strikes in the coming months. Eliminating him now, the White House claims, will do much to prevent a third attack. And third, the optics are great: Obama is a president who has promised to bring the fight to Al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, the administration’s argument is based more on frustration and assumption than real strategy. Killing Awlaki will do little to disrupt Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Inside that organization, he is a nobody—at best, a midlevel functionary in a local branch. There are dozens of men who could do more harm to the United States, and killing Awlaki would only embolden them and aid in recruitment. For an organization as resilient and adaptive as AQAP, his death would be a minor irritant, not a debilitating blow. The futility of such a strike should give Obama pause before he greenlights the assassination of a fellow citizen.
Read the rest of the piece. Do you think his killing is justified?
I just wrote for @fastcompany about a new subscription service that lets intelligence agencies, academics and police/military stream from a library of 15,000+ terrorist propaganda videos. Think of it as “The Netflix of Terrorism.”
Looking forward to your follow-up on “The Qwikster of Terrorism,” and the resulting consumer uproar within the CIA’s ranks!
* Will Trump insist on seeing the long-form death certificate?
* Does this mean we can keep our shoes on at JFK?
* What about big-ass bottles of hair gel, can we take those?