December 15, 2009 |
A nation the West once considered a major sponsor of terrorism may have pulled off a groundbreaking coup against Al Qaeda: coaxing a group once strongly allied with Osama bin Laden to renounce its onetime partner as un-Islamic. Libya's government is trumpeting its success in persuading leaders and foot soldiers of the extremist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to reject Al Qaeda's brand of violence. The decision, recounted by former members of the group and Libyan officials, offers a unique example of reconciliation between a government and a violent Islamic group once devoted to overthrowing it. "The government learned to sit with people who were opposed to them and have dialogue and understand them," said Abubakir Armela, a leader of the group who returned from exile in 2005.
October 30, 2009 |
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting Pakistan on a fence-mending tour, turned unusually blunt Thursday, accusing the government of failing to do all it could to track down Al Qaeda. Clinton told a group of journalists in Lahore that she found it "hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to." Al Qaeda, she said, "has had a safe haven in Pakistan since 2002." Clinton's three-day visit is her first to Pakistan since she became secretary of State, and its principal goal is to improve strained relations.
October 30, 2009 |
A federal judge sentenced an Al Qaeda "sleeper" agent to eight years in prison Thursday -- about half the time prosecutors had requested -- because the agent received what the judge called "unacceptable" treatment in a U.S. Navy brig. U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm could have sentenced Ali Marri to as much as 15 years. Prosecutors had endorsed that, presenting testimony that he remained a threat. But Mihm handed down the lighter sentence of eight years and four months in consideration of what he called "very severe" conditions under which Marri was kept during the almost six years he was held without charges in a U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina.
September 30, 2009 |
An Afghan immigrant charged with conspiring to bomb U.S. targets in an attack possibly intended to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday. Najibullah Zazi of Aurora, Colo., was ordered held without bail in what authorities have called the first Al Qaeda-linked plot on U.S. soil since the 2001 attacks. He appeared beside his attorney, wearing orange sneakers, black trousers and a tunic. Zazi, 24, his heavy beard neatly trimmed, did not speak, and there were no family members in the packed courthouse.
September 25, 2009 |
A federal grand jury in New York indicted a Denver man on a terrorism charge Thursday after federal authorities alleged that he and possibly three others had gone on a buying spree of bomb-making chemicals and were preparing an attack on U.S. soil. The one-count indictment alleges that Najibullah Zazi, 24, worked for more than a year on a plot to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. Justice Department documents did not name the alleged co-conspirators, but said that three other Denver-area residents had bought unusual amounts of chemicals from beauty-supply stores, including hydrogen peroxide and acetone, which can be used to make explosives.
September 22, 2009 |
Federal authorities have tied as many as a dozen people to a suspected Al Qaeda-linked bomb plot on U.S. soil as they continue to gather evidence to indict on terrorism charges the young Afghan immigrant at the center of the case, law enforcement officials said Monday. Authorities said that they did not know the exact number of potential suspects or many of their identities, but that they had been connected through electronic intercepts, surveillance, seized evidence and interviews.
August 20, 2009 |
The secret CIA program to assassinate top Al Qaeda leaders was outsourced in 2004 to Blackwater USA, the private security contractor whose operations in Iraq prompted intense scrutiny, according to two former intelligence officials familiar with the events. The North Carolina-based company was given operational responsibility for targeting suspected terrorist commanders and was awarded millions of dollars for training and weaponry, but the program was canceled before any missions were conducted, the two officials said.
July 30, 2009 |
U.S. military leaders have concluded that their war effort in Afghanistan has been too focused on hunting Al Qaeda, and have begun to shift Predator drone aircraft to the fight against the Taliban and other militants in order to prevent the country from slipping deeper into anarchy. The move, described by government and Defense Department officials, represents a major change in the military's use of one of its most precious intelligence assets.
July 26, 2009 |
Bryant Neal Vinas' unlikely odyssey from Long Island, N.Y., to Al Qaeda's innermost circle of commanders in Pakistan was achieved without any help in the U.S. from the well-oiled "jihadist pipeline" that has guided so many militants from Europe and other countries -- a fact that is cause for concern, current and former U.S. counter-terrorism officials said. His case, which became public last week, showed that a U.S.
July 24, 2009 |
Weeks after arriving in Pakistan on a flight from New York, Bryant Neal Vinas plunged into holy war: He volunteered to train for a suicide attack and fought in the wilds of Afghanistan. By the time he was captured in November, 14 months later, the Muslim convert from Long Island had journeyed into the innermost circles of Al Qaeda, according to a statement he gave investigators. Vinas befriended fellow trainees who wanted to bomb stadiums in Europe. He learned to assemble explosives vests.