By Jennifer Rizzo
A military appeals court decided Thursday that accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan can be forcibly shaved, despite his assertion that his religion requires he wear a beard.
Siding with the judge overseeing the trial, Col. Gregory Gross, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow Hasan to wear a beard during his upcoming court martial, as Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief.
"We agree with the military judge's conclusion that petitioner's wearing of the beard denigrates the dignity, order, and decorum of the court-martial and is disruptive under the current posture of the case," the decision says.
Even if Hasan did wear the beard out of a sincere religious belief, the decision found that "compelling" government interests justified the judge's order for Hasan to be shaved.
By Mike Mount
Cyber attacks on U.S. banks continued this week from suspected hackers believed to be supported by the Iranian government, according to U.S. officials.
Attacks on Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp. occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday. U.S. and banking officials described them as denial of service strikes preventing customers from accessing their information from banking websites.
There was little damage and no accounts were compromised, the officials said.
But the banks were still not able to fully stop the attacks even though it appeared they were pre-announced by at least one group.
By Larry Shaughnessy
U.S. troops in Japan will soon be placed under more restrictive rules when they leave base after the arrests earlier this week of two U.S. sailors accused of raping a local woman in Okinawa.
The incident has created growing concern for the American military.
U.S. military sources tell CNN the commander of all U.S. troops in Japan is looking at possibly issuing more restrictive rules about what they can and cannot do when they leave base during off-duty hours. The Navy had just announced it was creating less restrictive rules for sailors behave off-duty. The new restrictions would apply not just to the Navy but to all U.S. military in Japan.
By Ashley Killough
President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration's handling of the Libya consulate attack, telling Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" that he will ultimately fix any problems involving security for diplomatic posts.
"The government is a big operation and any given time, something screws up," he said in the interview to air Thursday night. "And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it."
Stewart pressed the president on the aftermath of the terror attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. consulate in Benghazi last month. The administration has faced scrutiny over why the post was not more robustly staffed with security.
The comedian said the administration's response did not play out in an "optimal" way.
"I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page," Stewart said.
The president replied: "When four Americans get killed, it's not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it."FULL STORY
Thousands of US troops arrive in Israel to begin a joint military exercise with Israeli forces, testing the country's missile defense systems. In all, the exercise will involve 3,500 US troops at a cost of $30 million. They'll be training over three weeks, in parts of Israel, Europe and the Mediterranean. Chris Lawrence reports on whether this exercise is sending a message to Iran on the strength of ties between the U.S. and Israel.
By Jamie Crawford
The United States is offering $12 million for two men described as al Qaeda financiers who are based in Iran and responsible for the movement of money and fighters to support the terror groups operations in the region.
The State Department has authorized a reward of up to $7 million for information leading to the location of Muhsin al-Fadhli, who U.S. officials believe to be the leader of al Qaeda's network in Iran. A similar reward of $5 million was offered for Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi, who serves as al-Fadhli's deputy in Iran.
In conjunction with the reward offers, the Treasury Department designated al-Harbi for his leadership role in al Qaeda and froze any assets of his under U.S. jurisdiction. It also prohibited all U.S. persons from conducting any transactions with him.
The move further exposes al Qaeda's "critically important Iran-based funding and facilitation network," said David S. Cohen, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a written statement. "We will continue targeting this crucial source of al Qaeda's funding and support, as well as highlight Iran's ongoing complicity in this network's operation."
By Joe Sterling
President Barack Obama will nominate a new leader for the Pentagon command in charge of Africa.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday the president is picking Gen. David Rodriguez to replace Gen. Carter Ham as head of the U.S. Africa Command.
Rodriguez is the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, responsible for the training, equipping and oversight of active duty, National Guard and reserve soldiers.
The choice comes during a turbulent time across the continent. Political turmoil rages in Libya, fighting continues to engulf the fractious state of Somalia, a militant presence has emerged in Mali, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has made its presence known in northern Africa, and sectarian strife plagues Nigeria.FULL STORY
By Ashley Kilough
Sen. John McCain on Wednesday said Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to go after the president over Libya in the second presidential debate.
Asked whether Romney failed to press President Barack Obama on the administration's handling of last month's consulate attack, the Arizona senator said "in a way, he did" on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
During the debate, Obama said he referred to the Libya attack as an "act of terror" the day after the violence last month. Romney disputed the claim, sparking a fiery exchange over whether the president used the term.
On Wednesday, some political observers noted Romney spent too much time over the semantics, rather than moving on and asking more questions about the security of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. facility on September 11, 2012.FULL STORY
By Raffaello Pantucci, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Raffaello Pantucci is an associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College and the author of the forthcoming "We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain's Suburban Mujahedeen" (Hurst).
A growing number of young Europeans drawn to protect their abandoned Muslim brethren have taken up arms in Syria. It's a dynamic that Europe has witnessed before.
In the 1990s, young Europeans were enticed by the idea of fighting jihad in Bosnia. Spurred on by radical preachers, young men and women were drawn to fight to protect their Muslim brethren merely a bus ride away.
Before the September 11 attack in 2001, the notion of fighting in a holy war was something far from most people's minds and reserved for history books about the Crusades. Occasional appearances by fearsome looking radical preachers at rallies where people would shout about holy war were shown every so often on television, but that was the extent of public knowledge of the issue.
But there was more going on, mostly unseen to the average citizen in Europe. In the mid-1990s as Yugoslavia started to fall apart, stories emerged of middle-class Europeans being killed fighting and of Western forces finding groups of fighters with British accents among the Bosnian ranks. FULL POST