Kerry laments death of U.S. civilian in Afghanistan
April 7th, 2013
07:46 AM ET

Kerry laments death of U.S. civilian in Afghanistan

By Ben Brumfield and Michael Martinez

Secretary of State John Kerry took a moment out of his trip to the Middle East Sunday to lament the killing of a Foreign Service member, who was one of six Americans recently killed in Afghanistan.

Kerry met Anne Smedinghoff less than a month ago, he told journalists in Istanbul, Turkey. She was part of his team at the time.

"I remember her as vivacious, smart, capable, often chosen by the ambassador for her capabilities," Kerry said.

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Blast near Hagel's briefing, killing nine
March 9th, 2013
07:56 AM ET

Blast near Hagel's briefing, killing nine

By Ben Brumfield

An explosion rocked Kabul on Saturday, hours after the newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel landed in the Afghan capital.

At least nine people were killed and 14 others injured, police said.

A suicide bomber apparently targeted the Afghan ministry of defense, said Charlie Stadtlander, ISAF spokesman.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Hagel • Kabul
U.S. troops arrive in Turkey; rebels battle for airport in Syria
A patriot missile is launched.
January 4th, 2013
03:11 AM ET

U.S. troops arrive in Turkey; rebels battle for airport in Syria

By Ben Brumfield

U.S. troops arrived in Turkey on Friday to man Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border, according to Turkish state media.

Syria has previously launched Scud missiles at cities near the Turkish border in a desperate bid to extend its firepower.

In response, the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands deployed Patriot air defense missiles to the border region to intercept any Syrian ballistic missiles.

The missiles and troops will be under the overall control of NATO, but the missiles will be operated by U.S. forces.

A group of 27 U.S. troops landed in Gaziantep, Turkey, where they will survey the Patriot deployment, according to Turkish state news agency, Anadolu.

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Filed under: Missile Defense • Syria • Turkey
October 17th, 2012
05:12 AM ET

Who are the Pakistani Taliban?

By Ben Brumfield

The Pakistani Taliban is a banned Islamist group with intimate links with the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.

While the attempted killing of 14-year-old teen activist Malala Yousafzai has brought renewed focus on the group, the brazen act is part of a long list of attacks on civilians and the military that the Islamist militant group has carried out in Pakistan's mostly ungoverned tribal area along the Afghan border.

Most recently, the group, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took the global spotlight when Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square in May 2010. The TTP took responsibility, and Shahzad testified that he had received training from them.

The following September, the U.S. State Department designated the TTP a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Terrorism
July 19th, 2012
02:43 AM ET

Cyberspy program targets victims in Iran, Israel, companies say

By Ben Brumfield

A computer virus campaign has for months been selectively spying on people involved in government and in strategically important industries principally in Iran - but also in Israel and other countries in the Middle East, according to two cybersecurity companies, which cooperated to track the campaign.

The virus, a Trojan horse with an "amateurish" design, contains lines of Farsi, or Persian, the main language spoken in Iran, Seculert and Kaspersky Lab said in news releases Tuesday. It communicates with "command and control" servers, which also contain code in Farsi and dates from the Persian calendar, they said.

"The attackers were no doubt fluent in this language," said Aviv Raff, Seculert's chief technology officer.

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Iran • Israel • Middle East