News from North America, Friday 17th May 2013

New York Times: “F.B.I. agents investigating the Boston Marathon bombing have repeatedly questioned Musa Khadzhimuratov, a Chechen refugee and former separatist fighter who says he had a passing social relationship with one of the two bombing suspects. They searched his family’s small apartment here on Tuesday, scouring his computers, subjecting him to a polygraph, and taking a DNA sample.

The hours of F.B.I. questioning in more than a dozen meetings — described by Mr. Khadzhimuratov and his wife, Madina, in an interview — illustrate the bureau’s intensive effort to identify possible accomplices and test its theory that the suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were radicalized and trained on the Web and acted on their own.”

CBS News: “Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left a note claiming responsibility for the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon, reports CBS News senior correspondent John Miller.

Sources tell Miller that Tsarnaev wrote the note in the boat he was hiding in as police pursued him, and as he bled from gunshot wounds sustained in an earlier shootout between police and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. It reads as part manifesto, part suicide note and part justification for the killing and maiming of innocent civilians.

The note — scrawled with a marker on the interior wall of the cabin — said the bombings were retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and called the Boston victims ‘collateral damage’ in the same way Muslims have been in the American-led wars. ‘When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims,’ Tsarnaev wrote.”

Reuters: “Fifteen men of Palestinian origin have been arrested on charges of running a multi-million-dollar cigarette smuggling ring in New York, and New York authorities who announced the arrests on Thursday said several of the suspects have ties to Hamas and other Islamist militant groups.

The men are accused of smuggling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes from Virginia to be sold in grocery stores across New York, with $55 million in sales uncovered so far, Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, and Ray Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, said at a press conference.”

BBC News: “Terrorists on witness protection were able to board flights because their new identities were not updated on the US no-fly list, a watchdog has found.

The US justice department report said its Witness Security Program had failed to give the new names to the FBI-managed Terrorist Screening Center.

The miscommunication allowed a ‘small but significant number’ of suspected or known terrorists to board airliners.”

LA Times: “Federal authorities in Idaho said Thursday they had arrested an Uzbekistan national accused of conspiring with a designated terrorist organization in his home country and helping scheme to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, was arrested at an apartment complex in south Boise on Thursday morning after a grand jury issued a three-count indictment as part of an investigation into his activities in Idaho and Utah.

The Idaho grand jury’s indictment charges Kurbanov with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The indictment also alleges he possessed an unregistered explosive device.”

Boston Herald: “A white supremacist, armed with a bag of torture devices and bent on avenging the ‘hundred thousand times’ women spurned his clumsy come-ons, unleashed a rampage of rape and murder on a Brockton neighborhood, prosecutors said today as Keith Luke’s trial got underway…

Luke, 26, is charged with the murders of 20-year-old Selma Goncalves and 72-year-old Arlindo Goncalves, an unrelated homeless man who Middleton said Luke shot in the face and back as the older man pushed a shopping cart laden with plastic bags of discarded cans.

Luke is additionally charged with four counts of rape and armed kidnapping and six counts of armed assault with intent to murder for shooting at three good Samaritans who comforted Selma Goncalves as she bled out and three cops who pursued and apprehended the self-proclaimed neo-Nazi.”

MSN News: “Meeting one of the long pending demands of Sikhs and Hindus in the US, Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the Department of Justice has recommended including the two communities among victims of hate crimes.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Holder said he made this recommendation to the Advisory Policy Board of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make the necessary changes in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) in this regard.

‘The (Justice) Department recommended to what”s called the Advisory Policy Board last year that the UCR be amended to include anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu, anti-Arab, anti-Middle Eastern categories in the ethnicity or race section,’ Holder said.

‘That board is supposed to meet again in June, where it will consider those potential changes before they make them to the FBI director. But it would be my strong recommendation the form be modified so that it captures anti-Sikh, anti-Muslim, anti-Middle Eastern violence,’ the Attorney General said.”

ABC News: “Can national politics inspire hate crimes? Mark Potok, who studies hate crime data as a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says yes.

Hate crimes against Muslims peaked dramatically in 2001, with the large bulk of the crimes taking place in the months following September 11th. Then Latinos became a target in the mid-2000′s as the immigration debate intensified, Potok says. Between 2003 and 2007, there was approximately a 40 percent increase in hate crimes against Latinos, according to FBI hate crime data.

‘That’s the period where we hear Lou Dobbs ranting about immigrants bringing leprosy and crime across the borders, and he certainly wasn’t the only one,’ Potok said in reference to the former CNN anchor, known for his strong stance on illegal immigration.”

Report: Center for American Progress: ‘Foreign Law Bans: Legal Uncertainties and Practical Problems’. “Over the past two years, a number of state legislatures have moved to ban the use of foreign or international law in legal disputes. As of the date of this report, lawmakers in 32 states have introduced and debated these types of bills…

Although packaged as an effort to protect American values and democracy, the bans spring from a movement whose goal is the demonization of the Islamic faith. Beyond that, however, many foreign law bans are so broadly phrased as to cast doubt on the validity of a whole host of personal and business arrangements. Their enactment could result in years of litigation as state courts struggle to construe what these laws actually mean and how they interact with well-established legal doctrines. The legal uncertainties created by foreign law bans are the reason why a range of business and corporate interests as well as representatives of faith communities have mobilized against them. The American Bar Association, the country’s largest and most respected association of legal professionals, has also passed a resolution opposing the bans…

Through a detailed examination of the anti-Sharia movement and a look at how U.S. courts have traditionally approached foreign and religious law, this report shows that the foreign law bans are both anti-Muslim in intent and throw into question the status of a range of contractual arrangements involving foreign and religious law. The report begins by explaining how the anti-Sharia movement evolved into an anti-foreign law campaign in order to avoid the patently unconstitutional practice of explicitly targeting Muslims.”

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