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terrorism

Success on the battlefield against the Islamic State won't translate into an immediate reduction in the threat from attacks in the West, the top U.S. counterterrorism leader tells NPR.

Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the tactical gains the U.S. military and its partners are making in Iraq and Syria are a "necessary" part of quashing the danger it poses — but not "sufficient."

"We do need that success — but there'll be a lag in the benefits we accrue," he said.

Updated at 8 a.m. ET

A suicide bomber in the city of Quetta in western Pakistan has killed at least 63 people and injured more than 100 others.

The attacker blew himself up in the emergency ward of Civil Hospital, NPR's Abdul Sattar reports.

"Most of the victims are lawyers, journalists and common citizens," Abdul says.

Quetta is the capital of the province of Baluchistan, which is home to a number of militant groups, according to Abdul. The Quetta Shura, a group of leaders of the Afghan Taliban, is believed to be based in the city.

The White House has declassified its procedures for approving operations against terror suspects outside of the United States, providing a window into the decision-making process for authorizing drone strikes and other forms of lethal force.

The redacted document, issued by the administration in May 2013, was released in response to a court order resulting from an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit.

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Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Bombs are raining down from the sky every day in Aleppo. 

When residents hear the buzz of planes overhead, most dash for cover.

But a group of volunteers, known as the "White Helmets," continue to rush toward the destruction. And these days it seems their work just doesn't stop. 

"The last few days were like hell," says 29-year-old White Helmet Ishmael Alabdullah. "We don't have any electricity in Aleppo city, the darkness is everywhere ... All that we have now is just bombing, bombing, bombing." 

When a suicide bomber destroyed my home

Jul 28, 2016
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Ismail Taxta/Reuters

At times, life in Mogadishu can feel like living in limbo, somewhere between conflict and peace; if there was a gray area between extreme violence and normal life, this would be it.

No two days are alike, and every day presents a new struggle to maintain a normal routine amid infinite uncertainty.

On Monday I drove 25 kilometers outside of Mogadishu to Afgoye, a town in the Lower Shabelle region that has been a spot for frequent al-Shabaab attacks.

Police in Brazil have arrested 10 people for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack against the upcoming Olympics in Rio, according to Brazil's justice minister.

Authorities say the group, based in multiple states across Brazil, had "moved beyond discussion to active planning," NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro says.

Members of the group allegedly had pledged allegiance to ISIS but had not had any direct contact with the militant group, Lulu reports from Rio.

"It's a first for modern Brazil — Brazilians plotting a terrorist attack on their own country," Lulu says.

Andrew Mack, a former strategic planning director at the United Nations and now a fellow at the One Earth Future Foundation in Broomfield, Colorado, coined the term "asymmetric conflict" back in 1975.

On Thursday night, in Nice, France, thousands of people were gathered on a seaside promenade to watch the Bastille Day fireworks.

Then a man in a truck accelerated into the crowd, and kept going. His attack killed more than 80 people, and didn't end until police shot him dead.

Imad Dafaaoui, a Moroccan university student, was horrifyingly close to the truck. He told Morning Edition he saw a crowd of people running toward him, with a white truck behind them, and he too turned to flee.

But he made a nearly fatal error: he ran in the wrong direction.

At a beachside restaurant in Nice, France, Eric Drattell and his wife were relaxing after a fireworks show when a white truck began speeding down the seaside promenade, mowing people down.

"You go from having an absolutely marvelous time to sheer terror in a blink of an eye, literally," he says. "It was a spectacular fireworks show. And then all of a sudden this happens and people are screaming."

Monday's bombing in the Saudi city of Medina stands out, even among the wave of terrorist attacks in recent days. It wasn't the death toll. It didn't produce the scenes of carnage like Saturday's bombing in Baghdad that killed nearly 200 people or last week's attack on the airport in Istanbul that left 44 dead.

It was the chosen target — Medina, the site of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's tomb and his house.

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Ahmed Saad/Reuters

Baghdad is no stranger to violence, but a bombing on Sunday stunned the Iraqi capital.

“They’re still digging out the bodies,” says reporter Jane Arraf. “They don’t know exactly who died or how many died.”

The death toll is officially at least 150, but many people are still unaccounted for. Most are women and children.

“This was different,” says Arraf, “because of the scale; because of the fact that they struck during the holy month of Ramadan, and because of the victims. The victims included entire families.”

From west to east, the targets ranged from a U.S. consulate in Jeddah to the holy city of Medina and a mosque in the city of Qatif. So far, at least, the casualties are relatively light when compared to recent similar attacks. In at least one case, the attacker died before reaching their target.

Information about the attacks is still emerging, and some early reports may prove off-base. We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time. Refresh this page for the latest.

On Tuesday, three suicide bombers armed with guns and explosives killed more than 40 people at the Ataturk airport in Istanbul.

Less than a day later, the airport was up and running, with workers sweeping away the broken glass and wiping off blood from the ceiling. Two days later, police — who suspect the Islamic State was behind the attack — have arrested 13 suspects and identified the nationalities of the suspected attackers.

And the funerals have begun.

Turkish officials say Islamic State militants orchestrated the terrorist attack that killed 42 people and injured more than 230 at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport Tuesday.

ISIS has not claimed responsibility. The attack at the airport was the latest and one of the most deadly in a string of at least a dozen attacks in Turkey over the past year. Turkey has blamed most of these attacks on either Kurdish separatists or ISIS.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The three suicide bombers who carried out Tuesday's deadly attack on an international airport in Istanbul were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz, a senior Turkish official says, according to a report by the Dogan News Agency.

The death toll in the triple suicide bombing and shooting attack has risen to at least 44, Turkish state-run media announced Thursday. More than 200 people were injured. The attack has not been claimed by any organization, but Turkish authorities say they suspect the Islamic State was behind it.

At least 41 people died in Tuesday's attack on Ataturk international airport in Istanbul and at least 239 people were injured. At least 13 foreigners or dual citizens are among the dead, the Turkish government says.

The attack was carried out by three suicide bombers armed with guns and explosives, according to authorities.

No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, but Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says he suspects the Islamic State was behind it.

At least 32 people have died at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport, where an explosion followed an outburst of gunfire Tuesday night, according to Turkish media. Police and emergency personnel have flocked to the airport. More than 80 people were reportedly injured.

Crucial details about the attack are still emerging: We'll update this post with news from Istanbul as it emerges.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the U.S. and its allies are making progress on the battlefield against the Islamic State.

But then John Brennan dropped a major caveat.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET.

He called it yapping, loose talk, and sloppiness. President Obama dismissed criticism of his administration's avoidance of the term "radical Islam" and urged America to live up to its founding values Tuesday, speaking at length about inclusiveness and religious freedom.

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton told NPR that in order to counter "self-radicalization," she wanted to create a team "exclusively dedicated to detecting and preventing lone wolf attacks" and possibly even expand terrorist watch lists.

She also called for creating more "integrated intelligence use" among local, state and national law enforcement; "strengthening communication" with other countries; and working with Silicon Valley to "prevent online radicalization."

The Long Road Back From Boko Haram

Jun 7, 2016

One of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls abducted two years ago by Boko Haram militants returned home last month. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed her in a televised meeting, promising to support her as she remakes her life and help her return to school and receive needed social support services. Reintegration is the goal for 19-year-old Amina Ali Nkeki and the 4-month-old baby she had while in captivity.

But how will that be achieved?

Zabihullah Tamanna, the Afghan journalist who was killed on Sunday along with NPR photojournalist David Gilkey, has been laid to rest in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Zabihullah and David died when the armored Humvee they were riding in, part of an Afghan military convoy, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Taliban militants. NPR's Tom Bowman and Monika Evstatieva were riding in a different vehicle in the convoy, and were not injured in the attack.

All eyes were on 20-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf when he stepped on the stand in federal court last week in Minneapolis to testify for the prosecution in America's largest ISIS recruitment trial.

As Yusuf began to speak, his words provided a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how more than a dozen young men convinced themselves that the way to prove they were good Muslims was to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS.

Imagine this scenario: A young Muslim leaves home to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Thousands of young men from Europe have done exactly that in the past two years.

But here's the twist: Imagine that just weeks after arriving, the young man realizes he's made a terrible mistake. What does he do now?

Airstrikes in Syria's largest city killed more than a dozen people at a well-known hospital, says aid group Doctors Without Borders, adding that the violence claimed one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo.

"We are outraged at the destruction of Al Quds hospital," the group said in a tweet Thursday, saying that the facility included an intensive care unit and an emergency room.

A friend of the pediatrician who died told NPR's Alice Fordham via Skype that Mohammed Wassim Moaz was "very kind" and that the children in Aleppo "love him very much."

Armed with a 3-D printer and a computer-guided stonecutter, cultural heritage advocates are taking on the jackhammers of the Islamic State and its destructive ideology.

When Islamic State militants seized the Syrian desert town of Palmyra last May, an orgy of demolition began. Using dynamite, fire, bulldozers and pickaxes, the wrecking crew targeted 2,000-year-old Greco-Roman temples, monuments and stone statues. Palmyra's 20-foot-tall Arch of Triumph, a symbolically important monument, lay in ruins.

The city of Boston and the friends and family members of the marathon bombing victims will never forget the day when two explosions ripped through the crowd at the race, killing three people and injuring more than 200. Neither will the family of Sunil Tripathi, but for very different reasons. Their story is told in the documentary film Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.

For days, the tech media was mesmerized: Rumors were running amok about the mysterious third party that helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone and one particular Israeli security company landed in the spotlight.

As weeks go by, the expectations that the third-party helper or its mysterious technique would be revealed are quickly declining. The theories, however, continue to ripple out.

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Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

Two years after the Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, the girls are still missing.

On Thursday, however, we got our first glimpse of a few of them in a new video — renewing hopes that not only are they missing, at least some are still alive.

When 276 girls were forced at gunpoint from their dormitory beds at a school in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 14, 2014, it sparked the creation of #BringBackOurGirls. The campaign, originating in Nigeria, became a global sensation as it pressured the Nigerian government and world leaders to rescue the girls from their Boko Haram kidnappers.

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