Is the core of al Qaeda on its last legs?
Ayman al-Zawahiri became al Qaeda's leader after Osama bin Laden's death a year ago.
April 27th, 2012
08:44 PM ET

Is the core of al Qaeda on its last legs?

By Pam Benson, CNN

No one is writing al Qaeda's obituary yet. But one year after its leader Osama bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. commandos, U.S. officials and experts say the terror network's core group holed up in Pakistan is hemorrhaging and could be in its final days.

CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, for one, maintains that al Qaeda - at least its components based in south central Asia - is in terrible shape.

"Their record of failure speaks for itself: No success in the west since the London attacks of 2005, no attacks in the United States since 9/11 (2001), almost the entire top leadership dead or captured," said Bergen.

Adds Robert Grenier, the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, "The movement has essentially been marginalized."

And a senior U.S. official describes al Qaeda as "largely in survival mode, putting most of its energy into coping with the losses and changes of the last year with a disjointed focus on global jihad."

Ayman al-Zawahiri replaced bin Laden at the helm, but by most all accounts he is a shadow of the cult-like figure of bin Laden.
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Filed under: 1 Year After Bin Laden's Death • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • AQAP • drones • Intelligence • Pakistan • Terrorism • Yemen
A “failing” Syrian plan gets some time
A UN monitor team, tasked with monitoring the UN-backed ceasefire in Syria, arrive in Sweida, south of Damascus, on April 26, 2012.
April 27th, 2012
07:16 PM ET

A “failing” Syrian plan gets some time

By Jill Dougherty

In diplomacy, "fail" is a strong word. So when State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland uses it, attention must be paid.

Nuland was asked Friday whether it's the administration's official stance that U.N./Arab League special representative Kofi Annan's six-point diplomatic plan for Syria is failing; two senior administration officials said just that at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week.

"Well, obviously, we can all see that it is the Assad regime that is failing to meet its obligations under the six-point plan," Nuland replied. "And as a result, the plan as a whole is failing thus far."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says violence in Syria is escalating, and he is "greatly alarmed." It includes shelling in residential areas, he says, "in contravention of what the Syrian government has promised. This is totally unacceptable."
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April 27th, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Israel sees potential and threat with Google program

By Elise Labott and Guy Azriel

If you've always wanted to travel through the buzzing streets of Tel Aviv, the cobblestone alleys and sacred sites in the old city of Jerusalem or view the extraordinary Baha'I gardens in Haifa, you can now do all of the above free of charge and without leaving your doorstep.

This week, Israel joined Google's ambitious street view service, offering computer users from all over the world a true-life experience of walking through several main cities in this Middle Eastern state.

"We have a lot of religious and cultural sites that speak to many faiths, like the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre , the Via Dolorosa and the Muslim quarter in the old city of Jerusalem" says Meir Brand, managing director of Google Israel. "These sites are precious and they have an emotional impact for billions of people all over the world. Many of those people don't have access or didn't have the chance to come and visit Israel. Our hope is that they see these treasures, the beauty of these, and that after they see and browse virtually from their pc or from their mobile, they are going to fall in love with the country and also come and visit".

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Filed under: Israel
U.S. Navy helps to seize nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine
April 27th, 2012
06:04 PM ET

U.S. Navy helps to seize nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine

By Larry Shaughnessy

The hammer of the U.S. Navy came down on a group of drug smugglers off the coast of Panama when sailors teamed up with other U.S. law enforcement agencies to seize nearly 5,000 pounds of cocaine, worth about $360 million.

Last Friday’s seizure was part of Operation Martillo,which is Spanish for hammer.

According to a U.S. Southern Command news release, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection plane spotted two “fast boats” off the coast of Panama filled with bales assumed to be drugs. The plane radioed the USS Elrod, a Navy frigate on station nearby. The Elrod sent a Sea Hawk helicopter to chase the boats.

With the helicopter, a U.S. navy frigate and Panamanian authorities on their tails, the people in the boats threw the drugs overboard and made a run for it.
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Filed under: Military
April 27th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

Dead, captured and wanted

[Update Tuesday, June 5, 2012] Abu Yahya al-Libi, the No. 2 man in al Qaeda and a longtime public face of the terror network, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, a U.S. official said Tuesday. He appeared in this list of Most Wanted terrorists earlier this year.

[Original post]As the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death approaches, CNN has updated this list, originally published in September 2011, taking a look at some of the dead, captured and the remaining most wanted terrorists from the last 10 years.

While progress has been made, there are still terrorists being sought by the U.S. government. CNN spoke with a number of intelligence agencies to come up with this list of "dirty dozens." Here are the 12 most significant terrorists who are now dead, have been captured and those who are still being hunted. The lists are obviously subjective–there are many more candidates–but these are some of the top combatants in the war on terror.

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U.S. expands hunt for terrorists in Yemen
An image taken with a mobile phone shows the southern Yemen town of Loder, in Abiyan province, where the Yemeni army are fighting militant supporters of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.
April 27th, 2012
01:21 PM ET

U.S. expands hunt for terrorists in Yemen

By Barbara Starr

The White House has approved plans by the Pentagon and the CIA to conduct strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda operatives even if U.S. officials do not know the identities of the individuals it's attacking, according to a U.S. official.

The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the issue. The Wall Street Journal first reported the development.

"We don't have to have a name, bio and dossier" to attack a target, the official said.

CIA officers and military personnel will now be allowed to conduct strikes based on intelligence that shows only a "pattern of behavior" that indicates a target poses a threat to the United States. This could involve striking fixed sites such as compounds where there are gatherings of suspected operatives, vehicle convoys or specific individuals.

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Filed under: CIA • drones • Yemen
9,000 Marines to leave Okinawa
April 27th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

9,000 Marines to leave Okinawa

By Bob Kovach and Chelsea Carter

Roughly half the U.S. Marines on Okinawa will be transferred under an agreement announced Thursday that will reduce the military footprint in Japan, easing local resentments over the amount of land being used by American forces.

Some 9,000 Marines along with their family members will be transferred under the agreement, with about 5,000 being sent to Guam as part of a military buildup on the U.S. territory in the Pacific, according to a joint statement released by the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee.

"I am very pleased that, after many years, we have reached this important agreement and plan of action," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.

The announcement by the committee, which included the top U.S. and Japanese defense officials, ends years of seesaw talks aimed at cutting the American presence on the island south of Tokyo.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE


Filed under: Marines • Military
Ignoring bin Laden's advice
April 27th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Ignoring bin Laden's advice

By Adam Levine

No sooner did Osama bin Laden get killed than his advice was being ignored by his adherents.

That revelation is included in Peter Bergen's blockbuster article in Time magazine describing the al Qaeda leader's life in Abbottabad. Bergen, who is also CNN's terrorism analyst, has seen some of the documents seized by the U.S. Special Operations Forces during the bin Laden raid a year ago.

Bergen reports that the al Qaeda leader warned smaller splinter groups about attaching themselves to the al Qaeda franchise.

"On Aug. 7, 2010, he wrote to the leader of the brutal al-Shabaab militia in Somalia to warn that declaring itself part of al-Qaeda would only attract enemies and make it harder to raise money from rich Arabs," Bergen noted in the Time magazine article.
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