July 31st, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Knights Templar: Terrorist Ties?

The group has come to everyone's attention because of Anders Behring Breivik's killing spree in Norway, now just over a week ago. He claimed in his rambling manifesto to represent a modern-day "Knights Templar". But who are they?
CNN's Fareed Zakaria examines the history of the Knights Templar and the serious terrorism threat from within.

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Filed under: Norway • Terrorism
Top Marine: Fixes for troubled F-35B aircraft ahead of schedule
F-35 B at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland Photo By: Larry Shaughnessy/CNN
July 29th, 2011
06:26 PM ET

Top Marine: Fixes for troubled F-35B aircraft ahead of schedule

The most expensive version of the Joint Strike Fighter, the one designed for the US Marine Corps' special needs, has been on "probation" since former Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided last fall that there were too many problems with the plane to justify sticking with it. Friday, the top Marine, Commandant James Amos, said the effort to correct the problems is farther along then expected.

"The metrics for determining how the airplane is flying and testing have improved dramatically, not in every area, but in most areas the airplane is ahead of schedule on tests," Gen. Amos said Friday during a demonstration of the F-35B at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.


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Filed under: Military
US labels North Korea talks "constructive and business like"
US Ambass. Stephen Bosworth arrives for talks with North Korean delegation Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
July 29th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

US labels North Korea talks "constructive and business like"

As diplomats like to say, the U.S. was managing expectations even before the talks with North Korea began on Thursday at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. And after two days of discussions between teams in New York led by U.S. Special Representative Stephen Bosworth and North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae-Gwan, the State Department was tight lipped, calling the talks "constructive and business like."

In a written statement on Friday, the State Department said, "the path is open to North Korea towards the resumption of talks, improved relations with the United States and greater regional stability if North Korea demonstrates through actions that it supports the resumption of the Six-Party process as a committed and constructive partner."


Fort Hood bomb suspect defiant during court proceeding
KIlleen Police Dept. booking photo of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
July 29th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Fort Hood bomb suspect defiant during court proceeding

The U.S. Army private who admitted he was planning to bomb a restaurant popular with soldiers from Fort Hood should be held without bond, a federal magistrate ordered Friday.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was ordered held on one federal count of possession of a destructive device. It was unclear whether additional charges were pending against him.

Abdo, who refused to stand when Judge Jeffrey C. Manske entered the courtroom, shouted an apparent reference to the 2006 rape of an Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers and the 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan before being hustled out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.

He was being held Friday in federal custody at an undisclosed location.


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Terrorism
July 29th, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Security brief – July 29, 2011

compiled by Tim Lister

Who killed Libyan rebel commander and why?

Syria pipeline blown up ahead of Friday protests

18 civilians die in Afghan IED attack

Fort Hood suspect had jihadist bomb recipe

US accuses Iran of helping al Qaeda network

Iraq end-game: US "losing to Iran"

Senior al Qaeda figure in Algeria killed


Filed under: Security Brief
N. Korea on a 'charm offensive' as U.S. talks on nuclear issues begin
North Korean For. Min. Kim Kye-Gwan departs U.S. Mission to the U.N. Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
July 28th, 2011
06:04 PM ET

N. Korea on a 'charm offensive' as U.S. talks on nuclear issues begin

North Korea and the United States began two days of what the U.S. terms "exploratory" talks at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York on Thursday.

This is the first direct meeting on nuclear issues between the two nations since so-called six-party talks broke down in 2008, when North Korea pulled out of the multinational nuclear disarmament initiative. Six nations take part in those talks: North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., Russia, China and Japan.

The State Department described the first day's talks as "serious and businesslike," adding in the brief written read-out, "We look forward to continuing our meetings tomorrow."

Washington invited the North Koreans to New York after the chief nuclear envoys of North and South Korea met last week at an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia, and agreed to try to resume the six-party talks as soon as possible.

The North Korean delegation arrived at the mission Thursday morning. About 10 members emerged from a bus and made no comments to reporters gathered in the street.

The team is headed by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae-gwan, an experienced diplomat who is considered an architect and a main strategist of North Korea's nuclear policy.


July 28th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

UPDATE: "Odd" behavior raised gun store suspicions

CNN's Randi Kaye interviewed Greg Ebert, a former police officer 
working at the Killeen, Texas gun store where Pfc Naser Jason
Abdo went to buy supplies. Here is some of what Ebert told CNN's Newsroom:

"He came to the store to purchase a quantity of smokeless gunpowder
and did not seem to know what it was. It was just really odd,
his behavior."

"He selected six canisters of smokeless gunpowder, placed them
on the counter and then asked the manager "well, what is
smokeless powder?"  If you don't know what it is, why in
the world would you buy that much?"

"It was out of the norm, but he had not done anything unlawful
or illegal that would prevent the sale, so we went ahead and
made the sale to him, but after the fact, once he had departed
the store we had discussed amongst ourselves and came to the
conclusion that it would be prudent to notify the authorities
and allow them to make whatever inquiry was necessary."

Filed under: Living With Terror • Military • Terrorism
July 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

UPDATE: DOD official: Abdo could have made two bombs

A Department of Defense official tells CNN's Barbara Starr that a search of the hotel room found Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo had enough to make two bombs. The ingredients included gunpowder, shotgun shells, a pressure cooker, 18 pounds of sugar used to enhance the explosion and Christmas lights to be used as a timer. 

At the surplus store Abdo bought a uniform and asked to have Fort Hood patches sewn on.

At the gun store he asked multiple questions about .40 caliber ammunition and how to use smokeless gunpowder, but then proceeded to buy three boxes of 12 gauge ammunition, smokeless gunpowder and a magazine for a “Springfield pistol.”

Filed under: FBI • Homeland Security • Iraq • Military
July 28th, 2011
02:08 PM ET

U.S. accuses Iran of sheltering al Qaeda network

By CNN's Tim Lister

The United States has accused Iran of providing sanctuary to an al Qaeda network that provides help to jihadists moving between the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Thursday announced the designation of six members of the network, including its alleged leader Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, and described Iran as a “critical transit point for funding to support al-Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which al-Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.

“We are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “Today’s action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al-Qaeda’s senior leadership much-needed support.”

The effect of designation is to prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with those named; any assets they may hold under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. FULL POST

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iran
July 28th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

UPDATE: Details on bomb-making materials found in soldier's room

A law enforcement source tells CNN Producer Carol Cratty the search of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo’s hotel room and backpack turned up:  six pounds of smokeless powder, Christmas lights and battery operated clocks which were apparently intended to create a timing and triggering device of some type, sugar, shrapnel, pressure cooker, shot guns shells that were in the process of being dismantled to obtain their raw explosives.  The suspect also had a military uniform he had purchased.

This official described the literature found in the backpack as “Islamic extremist literature.”   He also had a shopping list of components he wanted to get to make a bomb.  The official did not know if there were still items he had yet to get.   And he had a .40 caliber pistol in the backpack.

Filed under: FBI • Homeland Security • Iraq • Military
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