TIME boston bombing

Boston Bombing Suspect’s Alleged Accomplices to Face Trial

Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, Robel Phillipos
This courtroom sketch shows defendants Azamat Tazhayakov, left, Dias Kadyrbayev, center, and Robel Phillipos, right, college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, during a hearing in federal court Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Boston. Jane Flavell Collins—AP

A federal judge set a trial date for alleged Boston bombing accomplices Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakh nationals, who are charged with aiding Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to get rid of incriminating evidence and flee authorities

Two Kazakh nationals will stand trial for allegedly helping Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev evade authorities and jettison incriminating evidence.

USA Today reports that Federal Judge Douglas Woodstock rejected the defense team’s request to have all charges against Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov dropped, saying he would not weigh the evidence and act as “fact finder” before the trial dates.

Woodstock also rejected the defense team’s request to relocate the pair’s trials outside of Boston, where emotions might not run as high among selected jury members. Woodstock argued that the defense team’s concerns could be resolved through the usual jury vetting process.

Kazakh nationals Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov stand accused of obstructing police investigations by removing a laptop from the Boston bombing suspect’s dorm room and taking a backpack filled with firework shells emptied of explosive powder in the days after the April 15, 2013 bombings.

Tazhayakov will stand trial on June 30, and Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8. A third suspect, Robel Phillipos, will stand trial on charges of lying to investigators on Sept. 29.

[USA Today]

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria Refuses to Swap Militant Prisoners for Kidnapped Girls

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls
This photo taken from a video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network on May 12, 2014, purportedly shows some of the kidnapped girls Associated Press

Interior Minister Abba Moro says his government will not trade imprisoned Boko Haram extremists for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls, kidnapped by the militant group from a school last month, as demanded by the group's leader in a new video

The Nigerian government will not trade imprisoned Boko Haram extremists for schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist group, the country’s Interior Minister said Monday.

“As far as this government is concerned, the option of [the] swap of innocent citizens with people who have taken [up] arms against the country … is not on the table,” Abba Moro told the BBC.

In a video released Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said the group will free the girls if the Abuja government releases imprisoned Islamic militants.

“We will never release them until after you release our brethren in your prison,” he said.

The video purports to show some of the 200-odd girls who were kidnapped from their school one month ago while doing their final exams. Boko Haram wants to rid Nigeria of Western education and form an Islamist state.

Several nations, including the U.S., France, Britain and Israel, have sent experts or offered help to the Nigerian authorities.

[BBC]

TIME Nigeria

New Boko Haram Video Appears to Show Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

Footage released by Boko Haram purportedly shows some of the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted in April as its leader says he'll free them in a prisoner exchange

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Updated 4:47 p.m. ET

A new video released by the extremist group Boko Haram claims to show for the first time more than 100 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted last month, amid growing outrage at the kidnapping and the government’s response.

The authenticity of the video, first published by AFP on Monday, could not immediately be confirmed. It depicts the girls wearing hijab and praying. In the video, a leader of the group boasts that the girls, who came from both Christian and Muslim families, have converted to Islam. “We have indeed liberated them,” the militant leader Abubakar Shekau says in the video. “These girls have become Muslims, they are Muslims.”

Shekau says he will only release the schoolgirls if the Nigerian government frees Boko Haram prisoners. “It is now four years or five years that you have arrested our brethren, they are still in your prison and you are doing many things to them, and now you are talking about these girls?” he said. “We will never release them until you release our brethren.”

A top Nigerian official quickly dismissed the notion that the government would release Boko Haram prisoners in exchange for the safe return of the schoolgirls, AFP reports. “The issue in question is not about Boko Haram… giving conditions,” Interior Minister Abba Moro said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the United States has no reason to doubt the authenticity of the video, and that U.S. intelligence agencies are scouring the video for clues.

“Our intelligence experts are combing over every detail of it for clues that might help in the ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls,” Carney said.

A team of almost 30 American officials is already in the country assisting in the investigation; it includes four Department of State advisers, 17 Department of Defense advisers and four people from the FBI.

In an earlier video, Shekau had threatened to force the girls into marriage, saying he would “sell them in the market, by Allah.”

Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok almost a month ago, and an international social media campaign is demanding their release. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been widely criticized for his failure to prevent the attack and for his response. The United States announced last week that it was sending a team to aid in search and rescue of the girls.

-with reporting from Zeke J Miller in Washington

TIME China

China Cracks Down on ‘Terrorist Videos,’ Arrests More Than 200

Paramilitary policemen stand guard near the exit of the South Railway Station in Urumqi, Xinjiang.
Paramilitary policemen stand guard near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in a bomb and knife attack on Wednesday, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, on May 1, 2014. Petar Kujundzic—Reuters

Beijing arrested 232 people who "circulated videos promoting terrorism through the Internet and on portable devices" as the nation continues to reel from a series of knife attacks at rail stations that have been blamed on the autonomy-seeking Uighur minority

Police in China’s restive northwest have arrested more than 200 people for “dissemination of violent or terrorist videos,” state media said Monday.

The six-week security operation in Xinjiang, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority group, comes after a spate of bombings and knife attacks at train stations across the country.

A total of 232 people who “circulated videos promoting terrorism through the Internet and on portable devices” have been detained, the state-run Global Times newspaper said, citing a Legal Daily report.

In late March, Xinjiang’s regional government announced a ban on possessing “terror-related” videos or spreading them via the Internet.

The crackdown was introduced after the March 1 slaughter of 29 people at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming by at least 10 knife-wielding attackers. Some 143 others were wounded in the incident, which was blamed on Uighur separatists.

On April 30, a knife-and-bomb attack struck a rail station in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was wrapping up a tour of the northwestern region. The raid left 79 wounded and three dead, including two attackers.

Then on May 6, six people were injured by at least one knife-wielding assailant at a train station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. One suspect was shot and detained by security officials.

Relations between China’s majority Han population and the Uighur minority are tense, especially in Xinjiang, where many Uighurs demand greater autonomy and say they are being overwhelmed by a flood of Han migrants. Beijing counters that its policies have brought higher living standards and prosperity to the resource-rich region.

TIME Nigeria

Nigerian President: Missing Schoolgirls Likely Still in Country

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks to the media on the situation in Chibok and the success of the World Economic Forum in Abuja May 9, 2014. Afolabi Sotunde—Reuters

President Goodluck Jonathan said he believes the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram have not yet been trafficked across the border. His government has drawn global wrath for its sluggish response to the kidnapping of over 250 girls by the Islamic militant group

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said Friday he believes the hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month are still in the country and have not been sent across the border, despite rumors to the contrary.

Jonathan’s government has drawn global wrath for its sluggish response to the April 14th kidnapping of over 250 schoolgirls by the Islamic militant group. The president’s comments come after some reports the girls had been brought across the border to Cameroon.

There are stories that they have moved them outside of the country,” Jonathan said, Reuters reports. “But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see, so I believe they are still in Nigeria.”

We are also working with the experts that will use remote sensors to see them (insurgents) wherever they are. So that basically says they are within the Sambisa area,” Jonathan said, referring to the Sambisa forest near the school where the girls were taken.

Jonathan’s statement appears intended to refute rumors that the girls may have been sold as brides to men in neighboring Chad and Cameroon. The rumors were bolstered by a video of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitting his group had abducted the girls and saying “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

The White House has sent a team of military and law enforcement officials to Nigeria to help locate the missing girls.

[Reuters]

TIME Nigeria

Boko Haram Kills Hundreds in Violent Rampage

Leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau delivering a speech in a recent video.

The militant Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected of killing hundreds of people in a brutal 12-hour rampage in northeastern Nigeria, just weeks after it claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls who remain captive

Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group behind the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls last month, killed hundreds of people in a violent attack in northeast Nigeria earlier this week.

Suspected members of Boko Haram raided a town near the Cameroon border Monday and, during a 12-hour rampage, lit houses on fire and shot at locals, killing as many as 300 people, according to reports confirmed by the Associated Press on Thursday. The group is also reported to have kidnapped another eight girls in the region.

Boko Haram has been waging a deadly fight to create a separate Islamic state since 2009. It has recently drawn renewed international attention after it kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a school on April 14.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday pledged to find the girls, saying at the World Economic Forum being hosted in Abuja that their rescue would mark “the beginning of the end of terrorism in Nigeria,” Reuters reports.

But the abductions have been particularly embarrassing for Jonathan as business leaders and officials converge on Abuja for the Forum. The girls are still missing more than three weeks after the mass kidnappings, and Boko Haram’s leader has said that he’ll sell the girls “on the market,” which could effectively turn them into sex slaves.

Jonathan, facing mounting domestic and international pressure to respond to the girls’ kidnapping, recently welcomed an offer from the U.S. to send a team to help with the search. Nigerian officials have also announced a $300,000 reward for information leading to the girls’ rescue.

[AP]

TIME Asia

Not Again: Knife Attack at Train Station in Southern China

Armed policemen stand guard next to passengers after a knife attack at a railway station in Guangzhou, Guangdong province May 6, 2014.
Armed policemen stand guard next to passengers after a knife attack at a railway station in Guangzhou, Guangdong province May 6, 2014. Reuters

Another brutal stabbing incident in Guangzhou reported by state media, leaving at least six people injured by four knife-wielding assailants, comes less than a week after a coordinated bomb and knife attack killed dozens at a railway station in Urumqi

Updated: May 6, 2014, 7:10 a.m. E.T.

For the third time in months, and the second time this week, there has been a knifing at a Chinese railway station. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, local time, one or more men stabbed at passersby outside a train station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. Six people were injured, one critically, according to state-media reports. (Local press initially said there were four attackers, but Chinese police now say the suspect acted alone; eyewitness accounts vary.)

Photographs from the scene show what is becoming alarmingly common: blood on the pavement and bodies on the ground. Last Wednesday, a bomb and knife attack at a railway station in the city of Urumqi, in China’s far northwest, left three dead and dozens injured. On March 1, a coordinated assault on a railway station in Kunming, in southwestern China, left 33 dead and more than 100 injured.

It is not yet clear if the incident in Guangzhou is related to what happened in Urumqi or Kunming. Chinese authorities blamed both those attacks on separatists from the country’s predominantly Muslim Uighur minority. President Xi Jinping, who wrapped up a high-profile Xinjiang tour just before the Urumqi attack, last week announced plans to arm Chinese police officers with guns. In the wake of the recent spate of violence, he ordered the army to help local government deliver a “crushing blow” to terrorists.

Details from Guangzhou are still scarce, but early eyewitness accounts suggest the attacker or attackers wore white and brandished long knives. A woman named Liu Yuying told China News Service, a Chinese news agency, that she was exiting the station when she saw two men with “watermelon knives.” The Guangzhou Journal reported that they carried blades a half-meter (or about 20 in.) long.

Though the motive has yet to be determined, Chinese netizens were quick to connect the violence in Guangzhou to earlier incidents and condemn authorities for not doing enough to prevent mass attacks. “The counterterrorist effort is not enough,” one person wrote. “The innocent people are paying the price.”

TIME Africa

Nigeria’s President Vows to Find Abducted Girls Amid Mounting Pressure

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan speaks at the 68th United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013 in New York City Andrew Burton—Getty Images

President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to rescue over 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram three weeks ago after being blasted for failing to respond

After weeks of silence, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged during a nationally broadcast speech on Sunday to find an estimated 276 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school by insurgent group Boko Haram in mid-April.

“Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out,” said President Jonathan on live television Sunday.

However, he accused some of the victims’ parents of withholding information about their daughters and called for “maximum cooperation” from parents.

Jonathan’s speech comes in the wake of heavy criticism both internationally and domestically of his government’s fumbled response to the kidnapping and of the failure to quash Boko Haram’s increasingly brazen campaign of violence across the country, which has seen more than 1,500 people killed during the first four months of 2014.

Following a successful media campaign featuring the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, thousands of people rallied across the world over the weekend demanding action from the Nigerian government.

“I think it’s so important that the Nigerian government do a lot more in finding these women,” Matilda Egere-Cooper, a demonstrator of Nigerian origin in London, told CNN during a protest on Sunday.

Last Friday the President met with his top advisers and called for the creation of a “fact-finding committee” to investigate the April 14 mass kidnapping in Chibok, Borno state. He also promised to beef up security measures in the nation following a string of bombings in Abuja last month.

“[The] government strongly believes that the people of Nigeria, standing together, will overcome the current security challenges,” said the country’s Minister of Information Labaran Maku, according to a press release published after the meeting.

“The President assures Nigerians that ‘wherever the girls are in the world, we will get them back, apprehend and punish the culprits.’”

While the U.S. has been hesitant to provide security assistance to Nigeria because of ongoing human-rights concerns in the country, Secretary of State John Kerry promised to provide support to the beleaguered administration during a speech over the weekend.

“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime,” said Kerry during a press conference in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa on Saturday.

“We will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice.”

TIME India

At Least 11 Killed in Assam Attacks

Opinion is divided on whether the violence is linked to India's ongoing legislative elections

At least 11 people have been killed in two attacks in the northeastern state of Assam, a few weeks after the state wrapped up its three-phase vote. Local police told the BBC they suspect a separatist rebel group of targeting and killing members of the area’s Muslim community in the May 1 violence. They have also said, however, that the bloodshed was not connected to the national elections under way.

Tensions between the ethnic Bodo group and minorities in Assam have been churning for years. In 2012, large riots broke out between the two groups, in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. The Bodo community and minority communities, including Muslims, have been competing for increasingly scarce resources and land. The National Democratic Front of Bodoland, a separatist group fighting for an independent homeland, has already staged several violent and nonviolent actions this year, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Despite police statements to the contrary, some residents told the media that they believe yesterday’s attacks were due to the fact that rebels believed the victims had voted for non-Bodo candidates. Assam went to the polls in three separate phases on April 7, 12 and 24. Residents living in the area of the attack voted in the last phase. One policeman was killed, and two were injured on that polling day.

The May 1 attacks came the same day that two bomb blasts terrified passengers on an early morning train in the southern city of Chennai, killing one young woman and injuring several others. Though the incident was quick to be politicized, authorities gave no immediate evidence that the incident was connected to the elections. Chennai also voted on April 24.

Even with efforts in recent years to stamp out election-day turbulence in India, sporadic outbreaks of violence have punctuated a largely peaceful vote. On April 30, police killed a protester as voting was under way in Kashmir. On April 24, at least three election officials and five police were killed in a suspected Maoist attack on voting day in Jharkhand.

TIME

Osama bin Laden Situation Room Photo: Where Are They Now?

Three years after a White House photographer captured the tense scene as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others watched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden unfold, here's an update on those in the iconic picture

Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by a team of U.S. Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan exactly three years ago. Two dozen special forces operatives entered bin Laden’s hidden compound during the night, executed the most infamous terrorist in modern times and left with his body, destined for the North Arabian Sea. It was a dramatic end to the painstaking search that had begun long before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Back in the United States, the nation’s top military and civilian leaders were gathered in the White House Situation Room to watch the operation unfold live. President Barack Obama’s decision to order the strike was based on what then-National Security Advisor Tom Donilon famously called “a 50-50 chance” that bin Laden was even there at all.

A White House photographer captured what has since become an iconic image when Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Brig. Gen. Marshall B. Brad Webb, Hillary Clinton and other heavy-hitters watched stone-faced as the operation unfolded. The mood in the Situation Room was tense, with all eyes glued on a live video feed provided by drones hovering high above bin Laden’s compound.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2011. Pete Souza—The White House

Where are the players in this iconic image today? President Obama, the central figure in the drama and the man responsible for giving the final order to strike, is still commander in chief, of course. And while many of the people in the room have since retired from government life, a few continue to aspire to prominent political positions—most notably, Hillary Clinton, who may well be paving her way to a second presidential bid.

Here are the 13 men and women pictured that day, from left to right:

Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, has continued to play an active foreign policy role, most recently visiting allies in eastern Europe as part of the escalating Ukraine crisis. He originally opposed the raid on bin Laden’s compound, according to Mark Bowden’s book on the bin Laden strike, Finish.

Barack Obama, forty-forth president of the United States, called the operation against Osama bin Laden “the most important single day of my presidency.”

Marshall B. Webb (seated at the head of the table, with a laptop) is a United States Air Force major general who served as Assistant Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command during the raid.

Mike Mullen (standing, wearing a tie), a career naval officer, was serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the principal military advisor to the president when the photo was taken. He has since retired.

Tom Donilon (standing, arms folded) was President Obama’s National Security Advisor from October 2010 until June 2013 and is now a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Donilon didn’t want President Obama to watch the raid, fearing it would appear he was micromanaging the strike. Obama reportedly insisted, striding into the room, saying “I need to watch this.”

Bill Daley (standing, with jacket) was the White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from January 2011 to 2012. He was preparing for the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race before dropping out of the contest early for personal reasons. He recently became head of U.S. operations for a hedge fund that was launched last year in Switzerland to avoid following the the U.S. Volcker Rule.

Denis McDonough (seated) was the Deputy National Security Advisor when bin Laden was killed. He now serves as the White House Chief of Staff.

Tony Blinken (standing, peering over Daley’s shoulder) was a national security adviser to Joe Biden during Obama’s first term and had a seat at the table during daily security briefings. He’s now the President’s Deputy National Security Adviser.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most visible members of the team other then President Obama, has said she is considering running for president in 2016.

Audrey Tomason (standing, furthest in back),who the White House has said is a director for counterterrorism, is something of a mystery. When pressed, an official told the Daily Beast the White House does not generally discuss intelligence personnel.

John Brennan (standing, wearing gray), now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was Homeland Security Advisor at the time of the raid.

James Clapper (standing, wearing tie) has remained the Director of National Intelligence in the intervening three years since the photo was taken. Clapper sparked controversy in March 2013 when he claimed the NSA does not “wittingly” collect data on millions or hundred of millions of Americans. Edward Snowden’s leaks calling Clapper’s testimony into question were published three months later.

Robert Gates (seated) was Secretary of Defense at the time bin Laden was killed. He retired just two months later and is now the Chancellor of the College of William & Mary. He originally opposed a raid before changing his mind on the day of the strike.

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