The broad-daylight hacking death of a soldier in London this week was Britain’s Marathon Moment.
Like the twin bombings at the race finish line in Boston last month, Wednesday’s attack by two machete-wielding men spouting venomous threats to avenge Muslim deaths in faraway wars was a sobering reminder that terror now lurks in the hearts of local youth and on ordinary streets and sidewalks.
The suspects in both cases are young men accorded the benefits of education and personal freedoms, raising perplexing questions of how seemingly integrated immigrants come to be radicalized to act in the name of a remote, embattled homeland.
While authorities were investigating the scene of the London slaying of Lee Rigby, a British veteran of the
It was a fine line to walk for Obama. He denounced any resort to violence by those aggrieved by Western actions in the war against terror. But he also conceded that U.S. security policies that have "compromised our basic values" -- such as torture and indefinite detention of terror suspects -- are also partly to blame for feeding extremist hatred of the West.
Obama’s pledge to renew efforts to close the
But the recent terrorist attacks by apparently home-grown extremists suggest the anger stirred worldwide by extraordinary rendition, torture, imprisonment without charges and civilian casualties of war has burrowed deeply into the psyches of young men with roots in the conflict-torn corners of the world.
The death of Rigby, from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was the first in Britain in to be attributed to Islamic extremism since the July 2005 coordinated London transit bombings that killed more than 50 commuters. Two blood-drenched men shot and captured at the scene of Wednesday’s slaying in the Woolwich area of London were recorded on cellphones clutching bloody knives. One, identified by a Lebanon-based militant group as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, claimed in the video that their attack was “payback” for Muslims killed in countries where British troops are engaged in counter-terrorism operations. The
The Boston bombing suspects, 19-year-old
Investigation of the
U.S. forces have had no overt involvement in Chechnya, where two wars were fought in futile efforts to secede from Russia in the 1990s. In fact, then-President Clinton was often critical of Moscow for its deadly aggressiveness in putting down the Chechen insurrections. That the brothers apparently conflated the grievances of their homeland with those of Muslims under U.S. fire in Afghanistan could be testimony to the power and success of Islamic extremist propaganda. Images of U.S. soldiers abusing captives at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, photos of Muslim women and children inadvertently killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan and
Obama's pledge Thursday to recover the moral high ground in the war on terrorism was met with criticism from the right and skepticism from the left.
Obama’s promised policy reviews “are all positive developments, but they need to be followed up by concrete action,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of
Dixon Osburn, legal director of Human Rights First, welcomed the assurances of more "transparency" in the use of drones but remained "deeply concerned that the administration appears to be institutionalizing a problematic targeted killing policy."
The only announcement of the president to draw even moderate acclaim was his plan to lift a moratorium on Guantanamo detainee repatriations imposed after the failed Christmas Day 2009 plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner. The would-be bomber had been trained and equipped by radicals in Yemen.
Of the 166 prisoners still at Guantanamo, more than half are Yemenis, including 59 long ago cleared for transfer to their home country.
"Yemen welcomes the administration's decision to lift the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen," said Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. He pledged the Sana government's cooperation to ensure any returning detainees' "gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society."
A foreign correspondent for 25 years, Carol J.
traveled to and reported from more than 80 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.