By Nick Paton Walsh, Raja Razek and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Gaziantep, Turkey (CNN) — Raqqa was, a matter of months ago, one of Syria’s most liberal cities. Now locals call it Tora Bora. They say it’s as if the Taliban of Afghanistan have taken over.
After months of bombardment by the regime and a chaotic lack of control by weak and divided moderate rebels, al Qaeda have found a broken society, made it their home, and imposed on it hardline Islamist law.
Each morning, activists told us, they seem to awake to a more conservative city. The “Bayanaat” or rulings sometimes appear on town walls. Many limit women’s rights — to walk alone, to style or show their hair. Other edicts come by word of mouth — no smoking, no cameras. Behind them are often foreign jihadists from the al Qaeda linked militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The fear that now grips the city can be felt in the shocking bruises on Adnan’s body. Adnan, whose name has been changed out of fears for his safety, was behind some graffiti in Raqqa that told ISIS to get out. They caught him filming too, and dragged him into the burned-out ruins of a church they had torched and labeled as a new ISIS base.
Read the rest here
Terror charges for two conspiring bomb plot
By Carol Cratty
Two Florida brothers originally from Pakistan were indicted Friday, accused of plotting to use an explosive device and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
Raees Alam Qazi, 20, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, were arrested by FBI agents in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. The indictment does not provide specific details about what the men may have been targeting, saying only they conspired to use a “weapon of mass destruction” against people and property in the United States.
The indictment alleges that the Qazis engaged in their conspiracy from at least July 2011 until the time of their arrest. There is no mention of whether any explosives or other weapons were seized when the men were arrested.
Another must-see report on terrorism from CNN’s best reporter, Nic Robertston- AA
This ought to be interesting. I’m particularly excited to see if Mitt Romney sticks to the neoconservative agenda he’s outlined so far (and which is illustrated by the team of national security advisors he has assembled).
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Fighters armed with bombs and small arms attacked Kabul’s InterContinental Hotel, where they fought Tuesday with Afghan security forces, Chief of Criminal Investigation Mohammed Zahir told CNN.
Among the attackers were suicide bombers, he said.
Taliban bombers were responsible for the 10 p.m. attack on the hotel, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
The hotel is popular among international guests.
Initial reports indicate that multiple suicide bombers, mostly likely wearing explosive vests, carried out the attack, a U.S. military official told CNN. There were no indications that U.S. military or diplomatic personnel were at the hotel, the official said.
Police Chief Lt. Gen. Ayoub Salangi said Kabul police were on the grounds of the hotel, but had not been able to communicate with anyone inside, since the phone lines were down. He could not confirm any casualties.
A news conference had been scheduled to take place Wednesday in the hotel to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces announced last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The hotel is on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul and is typically protected by heavy security. Three Taliban penetrated that security, and one of them detonated an explosion on the second floor, said Erin Cunningham, a journalist in Kabul for The National. “We’re continuing to hear small-arms fire right now,” she told CNN from a vantage about 500 meters (a third of a mile) from the hotel. Several snipers were on the roof firing at Afghan security forces.
From CNN’s National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin
A Senior US Official tells CNN 10 hard drives, 5 computers and more than 100 storage devices which includes discs, DVDs and thumb drives were taken from the compound.
The senior us official also says the White House received 3 sets of photos yesterday. The photos included:
1. Photos of OBLs body at a hangar after he was brought back to Afghanistan. This is the most recognizable with a clear picture of his face. The picture is gruesome because he has a massive open head wound across both eyes. It’s very bloody and gory.
2. Photos from the burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson. Photos of OBL before the shroud was put on and then wrapped in the shroud.
3. There are photos of the raid itself that include photos of the two dead brothers, one of OBLs dead son (adult adolescent, maybe approx 18 yrs old) and some of the inside scene of the compound.
The official says the challenge is that the picture that includes the most recognizable image of OBLs face – from the hangar in Afghanistan – is so gruesome and mangled its not appropriate for say the front page of the newspaper. On the other hand, this is the one that is most identifiable as him.
Click HERE to view CNN video interview with expert Peter Bergen.