By Barbara Starr
A U.S. military strike in southern Somalia Sunday was targeting Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of Al-Shabaab, the Somali-based group with ties to al Qaeda, according to three US officials.
A drone operated by the U.S. Defense Department fired a Hellfire missile at a vehicle killing those inside, the officials said. But as of Tuesday, the Pentagon was unable to confirm whether Godane was killed, although he was the intended target.
The military was authorized to try to kill Godane because of current intelligence indicating he posed an "imminent threat" against U.S. interests in the region, one official said.
"We have to be able to prove he was in the process of planning additional attacks," the official said. The official would not elaborate on what the intelligence might be.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Top U.S. and Russian military officials on Tuesday discussed the potential for the United States to share high-tech equipment to counter any use of improvised explosives by terrorists during the Sochi Olympics, a U.S. official told CNN.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, met in Brussels, Dempsey spokesman Col. Edward Thomas said.
By Jill Dougherty
The Sochi Olympics have become the "Holy Grail" for terrorists, experts on Russia say, and they don't even have to attack the Games directly to claim success.
"You don't necessarily have to hit Sochi to spoil the Games," says Andrew Kuchins of the Center for Strategic & International Studies. "A series of Volgograd-caliber attacks would virtually terrorize all of Russia."
By Lateef Mungin
Two car bombs targeting Christians killed at least 38 people in southern Baghdad on Christmas.
In Afghanistan, two rounds of "indirect fire" hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, but no one was hurt.
The incidents highlight the security challenges with which both Iraq and Afghanistan are grappling.
Both countries have had a heavy U.S. military presence until recently.
The departure of U.S. forces from Iraq has done little to curb the near-daily cycle of violence. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials are working on an important security pact to outline the future of American troops in Afghanistan.FULL STORY
By Paul Cruickshank
Intelligence committee leaders in Congress warn that al Qaeda's network has strengthened over the past two years, creating new concern over the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the United States was no safer today than in 2011, despite the death of Osama bin Laden and the removal of senior al Qaeda operatives in drone strikes.
Their warning reflects growing concern among Western intelligence agencies about al Qaeda's growing strength in the Arab world.
While al Qaeda and groups that link to it have suffered setbacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, Somalia, Mali and other "Jihadist fronts," al Qaeda has taken advantage of the political turmoil caused by the Arab Spring to build its operations across North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
By Barbara Starr
In the hours before the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the CIA delivered a final, crucial 66-page document to the White House.
Thirty-three pages detailed how the mission would be announced to the world if it was a success. But the other 33 pages spelled out what would have happened, and what would been said, if it all went wrong. The plan was carried to the White House in a locked bag by George Little, then-press secretary to CIA director Leon Panetta. Little spoke to CNN Wednesday, just two days before leaving government service as the Pentagon press secretary.
By Elise Labott
The State Department will designate Boko Haram, a Nigeria-based extremist group with ties to al Qaeda, and Ansaru, an offshoot, as Foreign Terrorist Organizations, U.S. officials told CNN.
The move enables the United States to freeze assets, impose travel bans on known members and affiliates, and prohibit Americans from offering material support.
The United States says Boko Haram has killed thousands since 2009. Human rights groups put the figure at more than 3,000.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa-Fulani language, has launched a self-described "war on Christians" and seeks to impose a strict version of Sharia law across northeastern Nigeria, if not the entire country.
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, and Nic Robertson
Editor's note: Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister are writing a book about Morten Storm and his life as a former informant on terrorist groups.
Western intelligence missed a chance to capture or kill the suspected terrorist thought to be behind the Nairobi mall massacre, according to a former informant for both the CIA and the Danish intelligence service.
Morten Storm, who worked as an informant for five years, had forged a close relationship with the man - a Kenyan called Ikrima - who has been responsible for planning attacks inside Kenya for Al-Shabaab.
Storm, a Danish national, told CNN that in March 2012 the Danish intelligence agency PET had offered him one million Danish krone ($200,000) on behalf of the CIA if he could lead them to Ikrima, the target of an unsuccessful operation by US Navy SEALs last month. The SEALs raided an Al-Shabaab compound at Barawe on the Somali coast, but Ikrima escaped.FULL STORY
By Evan Perez
Four years after political opposition killed his plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters in civilian court in Manhattan, Attorney General Eric Holder says: "I was right."
Continued delays in the military trial of Mohammed and four others at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, which may not start until 2015, proves his point, Holder said Monday, interjecting a "not to be egocentric about it" qualifier.
By Daniel Burke
As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.
More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.
Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.
The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.FULL STORY