News from North America, Friday 26th April 2013

New York Times: “In March 2011, the Russian security service sent a stark warning to the F.B.I., reporting that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was ‘a follower of radical Islam’ who had ‘changed drastically since 2010’ and was preparing to travel to Russia’s turbulent Caucasus to connect with underground militant groups. Six months later, Russia sent the same warning to the C.I.A.

The Russian warnings to the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. also raised questions about Mr. Tsarnaev’s mother, Zubeidat, according to two senior American officials. The Russians were most concerned about Mr. Tsarnaev because they had information that he planned to travel to Russia, according to one of the officials. ‘The Russians were concerned that mother and son were very religious and strong believers, and they could be militants if they returned to Russia,’ the other official said.”

Washington Post: “The Boston Marathon bombing suspects were planning to drive to Manhattan and detonate their remaining explosives in Times Square, New York City officials said Thursday.

They said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect, told investigators from his hospital bed that he and his older brother hatched the New York plan on April 18, hours before their deadly encounter with law enforcement officers. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who has been briefed by federal officials, said at a news conference that the brothers were planning to use a pressure-cooker bomb similar to the one that detonated at the marathon, along with five pipe bombs.” “Antiterrorism intelligence units in Massachusetts were never notified that FBI agents had examined the activities of Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, further evidence of gaps in the network of post-9/11 measures that may have contributed to insufficient scrutiny of the suspected Marathon bomber.

The Boston Regional Intelligence Center and the Commonwealth Fusion Center in Maynard, which is supposed to serve as clearinghouses for information about potential threats, was unaware that the FBI interviewed Tsarnaev as part of a three-month investigation after Russian agents alerted US officials to his increasing radicalization, officials said.”

Wall Street Journal: “A federal judge decided to advise Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of his Miranda rights, even though investigators apparently still wanted to question him further under a public-safety exception.

The judge’s move, made on Monday in the hospital where Mr. Tsarnaev was recovering, has prompted some Republican lawmakers to press the Justice Department as to why it didn’t make a stronger bid to resist the judge’s plans.

Those lawmakers say Mr. Tsarnaev’s interrogation should have continued without him being advised of his right to remain silent, because they say agents should have had more time to determine if there were other undetected bombs or plotters. After being read his rights, the suspect stopped talking to investigators, officials said.”

Reuters: “As detainees at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, press ahead with a widening hunger strike nearly three months old, President Barack Obama has come under increasing criticism for his policy of force-feeding them.

But U.S. law is on his side, an analysis of court rulings shows.”

ABC News: “The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted unanimously to honor four young Alabama girls, killed in a 1963 church bombing. Martin Luther King Jr. had called them  ”martyrs” of the civil rights movement.

The girls, all black members of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the country’s highest civilian honors, created by an act of Congress.”

Toronto Star: “A convicted felon suspected in the kidnapping and rape of a 10- year-old California girl who was snatched from her bedroom last month was arrested early on Wednesday in Mexico and returned to Los Angeles, FBI officials said.

Tobias Dustin Summers, also a reputed member of a white supremacist street gang in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, was wanted on 37 criminal counts stemming from the March 27 kidnapping, the FBI said.”

Video: CNN: ‘Did the Boston bombing suspects have help?’ “Bob Baer, Maajid Nawaz and Juliette Kayyem discuss who may have influenced the Boston bombing suspects and how they were trained to make the explosive devices used in the attack.”

Audio: New Yorker: ‘Political Scene: Will the Boston Bombing Change Counterterrorism?’ “What does the Boston Marathon bombing reveal about the United States’ counterterror efforts—both at home and abroad? ‘What’s most miraculous to me,’ David Remnick says, on this week’s Political Scene podcast, ‘is that this hasn’t happened more often.’ Remnick joins Jane Mayer and host Dorothy Wickenden to discuss America’s counterterror tactics, including some of the more morally fraught issues, like the expansion of the drone war.”

Comment: Foreign Policy: ‘Brief Interviews with Hideous Terrorists’ by Jessica Stern. “A few times, I have felt myself in the presence of true evil. At those times, I learned what it means to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s not just an expression. It happened to me when I met with a leader who recruited cannon fodder for his ‘jihad,’ and on a few other occasions in the last couple decades that I’ve spent interviewing terrorists to learn why they do what they do. But, more often, the evil I’ve witnessed has been banal. I have found myself able to understand the mistaken moral logic that can turn a boy into a terrorist.”

Comment: The Globe and Mail: ‘A Canadian al-Qaeda plot from Iran? Not impossible, but not very likely’ by Bruce Riedel. “The revelation of an alleged plot to attack the Canada-U.S. train system by a small cell somehow connected to al-Qaeda’s presence in Iran has sparked interest in the relationship between the Sunni Muslim terror group and the Shia Muslim Iranian government. There is no doubt that al-Qaeda has a presence in Iran – but how it relates to the Tehran regime has been murky for years.”

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