SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Authorities in the United States believe that the two brothers suspected of detonating bombs at the Boston Marathon last week hoped to wreak similar havoc in New York City’s Times Square.
On Thursday afternoon, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were planning to set off explosives in Midtown Manhattan.
“The surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets,” Mayor Bloomberg said, adding that details of the attempted terrorist attack surfaced in recent days while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was being questioned by investigators.
Dzhokhar, 19, has reportedly since stopped speaking with authorities and remains hospitalized in Boston as he recovers from injuries incurred during last week’s manhunt and the subsequent shootouts with police. His brother and co-suspect in the bombings, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed late last Thursday after an armed standoff with police in Watertown, Massachusetts. The younger Tsarnaev brother was captured the following evening and has since been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction for his alleged role in the Monday, April 15 terrorist attack in Boston, Massachusetts. Three people died in the blast.
Addressing the media earlier this week, New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said investigators suspected that the brothers plotted a trip to Manhattan after the bombing in order to “party.” At Thursday’s presser, however, Mayor Bloomberg said that his initial suspicions of a second terrorist attack plotted for the Big Apple have proved accurate.
“Ten days ago our city and nation received a horrific reminder that we remain targets for terrorists,” said Bloomberg, who stressed that the city of New York responded by immediately mobilizing the NYPD’s “vast counterterrorism operations” in order to combat any follow-up attacks.
“We now know that that possibility was in fact all too real,” he told reporters.
Bloomberg and Kelly said that this past Wednesday evening they were informed by the Joint Terrorism Task Force that the two Tsarnaev brothers intended to drive more than 200 miles from Boston to New York to detonate additional explosives in Times Square, the Midtown Manhattan landmark that attracts more than a quarter of a million people each day.
According to Kelly, Dzhokhar “initially told investigators that he and his brother decided after the Boston bombings that they would go to New York City to party. However, subsequent questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target.”
The brothers, said Bloomberg, “had the capability to carry out the attack.” Kelly claimed the men planned to bring six explosives in all: five pipe bombs and one pressure cooker device similar to the the ones used in Boston.
Earlier Thursday, Reuters cited anonymous sources who said the brothers intended to make the trip to New York a week earlier after hijacking a vehicle outside of Boston in the town of Cambridge, but unexpected complications caused them to put the plot on hold.
“They discussed this while driving around in the Mercedes SUV that they hijacked,” said Kelly. “The plan, however, fell apart when they realized that the vehicle that they hijacked was low on gas.”
Authorities say the Tsarnaev brothers stole the SUV last Thursday evening after a firefight erupted between the bombing suspects and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer. Twenty-six-year-old Officer Sean A. Collier was killed in the shoot-out just after 10 p.m. last Thursday and that incident rekindled a manhunt for the alleged terrorists thought responsible for the marathon bombing three days earlier. Police would pursue the two brothers across the Boston area that evening, during which the pair reportedly threw a number of explosives out of their automobile. The car-chase took authorities to the town of Watertown, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following another firefight with police.
Police say that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran over his brother’s body in the stolen Mercedes while fleeing the scene of that incident and was captured the following evening. Nearly one week later, though, information is finally being released about a second, perhaps much deadlier attempted terrorist attack.
Kelly said that authorities are unsure of when or where the brothers would have detonated the explosives had they successfully made the trip to Times Square, but that surveillance footage recorded earlier on April 18, 2012 has provided investigators with proof that Dzhokhar visited Manhattan last year. An additional photo obtained by the NYPD links Dzhokhar with being in Manhattan this past November.
“The role of surveillance cameras played in identifying the suspects was absolutely essential in saving lives, both in Boston and now we know in New York City,” said Bloomberg.
Kelly added that additional people caught on film with Dzhokhar during a visit to New York have been identified as well and that an investigation into the matter is going forward.
Had the brothers made it to Manhattan, Bloomberg said they would have seen “an enormous police presence,” but would have been unaware of the city’s vast collection of public surveillance cameras. The New York Civil Liberties Union believes that are at least 2,400 of those cameras in New York, and real-time data is reportedly sent directly to US Department of Homeland Security fusion centers that spend millions of dollars annually to investigate and interrupt alleged terrorist attacks.
“The investments that we’ve made in counterterrorism operations, technology and intelligence help reduce the possibility of a successful terrorist strike,” said Bloomberg, all the while cautioning that more could be done to deter future attempts — especially those in New York, described by the mayor during the afternoon presser as a “prime target for those that hate America and want to kill Americans.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Nearly 70 people have died and hundreds of others injured in a large explosion at a fertilizer plant in the US state of Texas, local emergency authorities say.
West Emergency Medical Services (EMS) director George Smith said that some 60 to 70 people died and hundreds of others were injured in the explosion on Wednesday at West Fertilizer plant in the city of West, located about 32 kilometers (20 miles) north of Waco.
An official at a hospital in Waco said that they were told to anticipate 100 injured people coming from the explosion area.
According to Waco Assistant Fire Chief Don Yeager, the fertilizer facility had an anhydrous ammonia explosion. However, the cause still remains unknown.
There have also been reports of several buildings to be on fire, including a middle school.
The blast was felt as far as 24 kilometers (15 miles) away.
More than 2,000 customers were without power in the area, according to the local power utility, Oncor Electric.
On April 15, the United States experienced another explosion, which hit the Boston marathon, killing three and injuring more than 150 others.
One day later, authorities intercepted letters poisoned with the deadly substance, ricin, which were intended to reach US President Barack Obama and Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- At least nine people have been killed and 27 others injured in two separate car bomb attacks in central Iraq, police officials said.
According to Iraqi police, a car bomb exploded in Aziziyah town, 55 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, on Tuesday, killing seven people and injuring 20 others.
Earlier, two soldiers were killed after a car bomb went off near an army patrol north of Baghdad. Seven people, including five civilians, were also injured in the attack.
The attacks come a day after at least 55 were killed and 200 others injured in more than 30 attacks across Iraq.
Violence has increased in Iraq in recent weeks as the country is preparing to hold provincial elections on 20 April, the first in the country since 2010.
A total of 14 election candidates have already been murdered.
Iraq's provincial elections are due to be held in 12 of the country's 18 provinces and soldiers and policemen cast their ballots for the elections on Saturday, a week ahead of the main vote.
More than 8,000 candidates have registered to compete for the 378 seats up for grabs and an estimated 16.2 million Iraqis are eligible to vote.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The twin bombing at the major northeastern US city of Boston near the finish line of the city’s annual cross-country marathon race has killed at least three people and injured over 130 other as major cities across the nation have gone on high security alert.
As runners in the prestigious Boston Marathon race continued to cross the finish line on Monday afternoon, two bomb blasts, about 15 seconds apart, went off reportedly by a remote-control devise, releasing orange balls of fire into the air and lifting runners off their feet, with many of the injured left with lost limbs.
The destructive impact of the two blasts quickly spread across the major city and throughout the country, as top American officials and lawmakers described the bombings as terrorist attacks reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 incidents in New York and Virginia that left nearly 3,000 people dead.
This is while air traffic at Boston’s busy Logan Airport was halted as police officers demanded motorists to evacuate the city, and mobile phone service was temporarily cut to prevent potential remote detonation of explosive devices.
City authorities and medical personnel reported that the casualties included children, with one of those killed identified as an 8-year-old boy. At least 10 other children were also reported among the injured.
A 54-year-old spectator, Allan Kaufman, was watching the marathon at the finish line when the bombs went off. He turned away when he saw body parts on the sidewalk, according to one local news report. “We can’t do this anymore. We can’t have open events anymore,” he said. “You can’t control it.”
Meanwhile, local press reports said a surveillance photo showed a man with two backpacks at the scene shortly before the explosions. There are also reports that a “Saudi national” that was injured during the incident and taken to a local hospital was being questioned by authorities.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said Monday night, however, that there were no suspects but that “the police were talking to some people.”
According to police officials, the bombs had been placed in trash cans, less than 100 yards apart and that they found at least two suspicious packages at other downtown locations, including a footbridge near the city’s Copley Plaza Hotel.
Moreover, a bomb squad reportedly exploded an unknown object found near the Boston Public Library. The police radio crackled with reports of fires and explosions, local news reports said, adding that “the city’s core was shut down, and buses cordoned off major streets.” Police took to loudspeakers to tell motorists to “evacuate the city.” Long lines of ambulances queued outside some of the city’s finest hotels.
Federal authorities, meanwhile, were treating the blasts as a terrorist attack as FBI special agent Richard DesLauriers in Boston said an investigation is being launched by a joint terrorism task force of federal, state and local authorities. “It is a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation,” he added during a Monday night news conference.
Security was further reported tightened not only in Boston but in New York City and at several key locations in the capital Washington, including the US Congress and in front of the White House.
President Barack Obama called Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to express his concern for those injured in the blasts, and directed his administration to provide whatever assistance was necessary.
The Boston Marathon attracts an estimated half-million spectators and some 20,000 participants every year. The sports event has been held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April, since 1897.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) A car bomb Monday afternoon ripped through an area near one of the largest public squares in Damascus, Syria, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens of others, Syrian state TV reported.
Gruesome video on state TV showed mangled bodies near Sabaa Bahrat Square, blood and rubble in the streets, significant damage to cars and buildings, and thick smoke.
State TV reported that the blast was near a school. The square is surrounded by state buildings including the Central Bank of Syria.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blast. Syrian state TV reported that authorities preliminarily believe that the explosion was "caused by a terrorist suicide bomber in a car."
Syria is in the midst of a civil war with roots that date back to March 2011, when protesters, partly inspired by Arab Spring uprisings in the region, began demonstrating for more freedom. The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have died in the violence.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to "cleanse" his country of extremism, a day after a blast in a central Damascus mosque killed scores of people, including a key pro-regime Sunni cleric.
State news agency SANA said that 49 people died along with Mohamed Saeed al-Bouti, the most prominent cleric to back Assad's regime in his fight against opponents.
In a statement issued by the presidency, Assad condemned the attack and mourned Bouti's death, vowing to eradicate "extremism and ignorance" in Syria.
The attack was condemned by the opposition, who raised the possibility that the regime was behind the deadly blast at the Iman Mosque on Thursday night.
State media said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who blew himself up after entering the mosque, where Bouti was addressing religious students.
State media said Bouti's grandson was among the dead.
"I swear to the Syrian people that your blood, and that of your grandson and all the martyrs of the homeland, will not be spilled in vain because we will be faithful to your ideas by destroying their extremism and ignorance until we have cleansed the country," Assad said in the statement on Friday.
Pro-government television aired gruesome footage from inside the mosque, where dozens of corpses and body parts, including limbs and hands, were strewn on the carpeted floor in pools of blood.
The government declared Saturday as a day of mourning and state-run Syrian TV halted its regular programmes on Friday to air readings from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, as well as speeches of the late cleric.
Al-Bouti was the most senior religious figure to be killed in Syria's civil war and his slaying was a major blow to Assad.
The preacher had been a vocal supporter of the regime since the early days of Assad's father and predecessor, the late President Hafez Assad, providing a Sunni cover and legitimacy to their rule.
Sunnis are the majority sect in Syria while Assad is from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.
In a speech earlier this month, al-Bouti had said it was “a religious duty to protect the values, the land and the nation'' of Syria.
"There is no difference between the army and the rest of the nation," he said at the time - a clear endorsement of Assad's forces in their effort to crush the rebels.
The latest attack came as heavy fighting raged across Syria.
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN chief, said the United Nations would investigate whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict.
The relentless violence has killed more than 70,000 people, according to UN figures, and caused more than one million to flee their homes as refugees.
The mosque bombing was among the most serious security breaches in Damascus.
Last July, an attack that targeted a high-level government crisis meeting killed four top regime officials, including Assad's brother-in-law and the defense minister.
Last month, a car bomb that struck in the same area, which houses the headquarters of Syria's ruling Baath party, killed at least 53 people and wounded more than 200.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –An explosion at a mosque in the Syrian capital on Thursday killed at least 42 people, including a senior pro-government Muslim cleric, and wounded 84, the Syrian health ministry said.
State television and anti-government activists earlier had reported 15 dead. The television said a "terrorist suicide blast" hit the Iman Mosque in central Damascus, and Mohammed al-Buti, imam of the ancient Ummayyad Mosque, was among the dead.
"The death toll from the suicide bombing of the Iman Mosque in Damascus is 42 martyrs and 84 wounded," the health ministry said later in a statement.
While attacks in the capital during Syria's two-year-long rebellion have become almost commonplace, an attack on a mosque was deeply shocking to both sides in the conflict.
Buti, a government-appointed cleric reviled by the Syrian opposition movement, delivered the official weekly Friday mosque sermons on state television.
In one of his televised speeches, Buti described those fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as 'scum'. He also used his position to call on Syrians to join the armed forces and help Assad defeat his rivals in the rebellion.
Rebel spokesman Loay Maqdad said units associated with the opposition's Free Syrian Army were not behind the attack.
"We in the Free Syrian Army do not take any responsibility for this operation. We do not do these types of suicide bombings and we do not target mosques," he told Al Arabiya television.
Video released by Syria's al-Ikhbariya channel showed dozens of limp bodies lying on the bloodied carpet of the mosque, as emergency workers rushed in to give survivors first aid. Mangled limbs lay among the wreckage.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists across Syria, said earlier that around 15 people died in the blast in central Damascus.
The Observatory said it was unclear if the explosion was caused by a car bomb or a mortar shell. Dozens more were wounded in the attack it said.
The Iman mosque is next door to the offices of Assad's ruling Baath party, as well as other government compounds.
Locals were panicked after the blast and described seeing ambulances rushing to the area while traffic came to a standstill. Residents near the mosque said the strong, acrid smell of gun powder still hung in the air.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –At least twelve people were killed on Thursday by a car bomb at a camp in northwest Pakistan for people displaced by fighting between government forces and Islamist militants, police said.
The bomb exploded in the Jalozai camp in Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, an area bordering Afghanistan and a stronghold for insurgents bent on toppling Pakistan's U.S.-backed governmen
"Food was being distributed among the internally displaced persons when the blast took place," Nowshera police chief Mohammad Hussain told Reuters, adding that 35 people were wounded.
The camp is home to people who have fled violence in ethnic Pashtun areas along the border with Afghanistan where al Qaeda and Taliban militants operate.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled from conflict over the past five years or so, from the tribal areas along the border and from elsewhere, such as the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad.
Many people have been able to go home, especially those from Swat, but thousands remain in camps.
The Pakistani Taliban denied responsibility for the blast. Spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters it was "inhuman and un-Islamic to target innocents".
The blast comes days after the elected government completed its full five-year term, the first in the country's volatile history to do so.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –An al-Qaeda militant group in Iraq on Wednesday claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s wave of bombings in central Iraq which left 60 people killed.
An on-line statement from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq group said, “What you received Tuesday was only the first stage, which by God’s willing will be followed by revenge for those whom you executed.”
The statement also said Tuesday’s assaults were a response to Iraqi Minister of Justice Hassan al-Shammari’s pledge to speed up executions of terrorists after his office building was attacked on Thursday, Xinhua reported.
The authenticity of the statement cannot be immediately verified.
On Tuesday, a wave of deadly bombings mainly struck Shia areas in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and nearby towns, killing up to 60 people and wounding more than 200.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source:islamic invitation turkey.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Car bombs and roadside blasts have killed at least 56 people and wounded nearly 200 in Shia districts across the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Tuesday, according to police and hospital sources.
The Iraqi capital has been shaken by at least 16 blasts throughout the morning, most of them car bombs, including those detonated by suicide bombers.
Police officials say the attacks targeted mainly small eateries, groups of laborers and bus stops, all within a one-hour period.
The first attack took place near a small restaurant in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 15. Minutes later, two laborers were killed and eight were wounded when a roadside bomb hit the place where they gather every day in an area of New Baghdad.
In the neighborhood of Sadr City, a sticky bomb attached to the underside of a minibus killed three commuters and wounded seven people. Another car bomb exploded in a commercial street in the same Shiite area, killing two people and wounding 11.
"I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere," Al Radi, a taxi driver caught in one of the blasts in Baghdad's Sadr City, told Reuters.
In the northeastern suburbs of Baghdad, four people were killed and 11 others wounded after a car bomb went off near a small restaurant in Hussainiyah neighborhood.
In Zafarniyah, two car bombs exploded near a police station, killing five people, including a policeman and wounding 27, said police. In northern Baghdad, a car bomb went off near a bus stop, killing three and wounding 13.
In downtown Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near a restaurant not far away from the well-protected green zone, killing six people, including two soldiers and wounding more than 15. In Shulla, a car bomb exploded near an outdoor market, killing five people and wounding 21.
Security forces have immediately stepped up searches at checkpoints, closing off key roads and worsening the capital's morning gridlock, a reporter for AFP said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.
The attacks coincide with the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, which saw long-time dictator Saddam Hussein ousted.
Similar 'anniversary attacks' last year took the lives of 45 people and wounded 216.-www.shafaqna.com/English