Investigators found "shredded pieces of pressure cookers" in the bomb debris, Fox reported, adding that a source said it was hidden inside a black backpack placed in a garbage can. The FBI is hoping to identify the cellular telephone which may have been used to trigger the bomb.
If the reports prove to be true, they could tie the attack to Islamist terrorists. Pressure cooker bombs are among the suggestions for terrorist attacks offered by al-Qaida's Inspire magazine. An article entitled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" is strikingly similar to what is known about Monday's attack that killed three people and injured more than 130 others gathered near the marathon's finish line.
Pressure cooker bombs should be "placed in crowded areas and left to blow up. More than one of these could be planted to explode at the same time. However, keep in mind that the range of the shrapnel in this operation is short range so the pressurized cooker or pipe should be placed close to the intended targets and should not be concealed from them by barriers such as walls."
A 2010 release from the Department of Homeland Security said pressure cookers "frequently have been used in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Pressure cookers are common in these countries, and their presence probably would not seem out of place or suspicious to passersby or authorities."
At least two previous terror plots in America included pressure cookers. One of the explosives Faisal Shahzad left in Times Square was a loaded pressure cooker, the DHS release said. And in 2011, Army Pvt. Jason Naser Abdo told investigators he planned to pack gun powder and shrapnel into pressure cookers as part of an attack on a restaurant popular with personnel from Fort Hood. When he was arrested, Abdo had a copy of Inspire magazine and explosive supplies and two pressure cookers.
In the latest standoff between Bangladesh's secular government and largely Islamist opposition, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina turned down demands for a new blasphemy law seeking to punish those who defame Islam and the Muslim prophet Mohammad.
"They have demanded it. Actually, we don't have any plan to [bring in the law]. We don't need it. They should know that existing laws are enough," Hasina told the BBC.
Bangladesh "is a secular democracy," she said. "So each and every religion has the right to practice their religion freely and fair. But it is not fair to hurt anybody's religious feeling. Always we try to protect every religious sentiment."
Hundreds of protestors led by the Islamist Hefajat-e-Islam group took to the streets last weekend in what was widely reported as "the long march." The demonstrators had a list of 13 demands that included a call for execution of "atheist" bloggers accused of insulting Islamic beliefs. The government arrested four bloggers last week on charges of defaming Islam.
Despite her stand against any new blasphemy law, Hasina defended the arrests based on existing law. "If anybody tried to hurt any sentiments of any religion or any religious leader … we can take any action," she told the BBC.
The Hefajat-e-Islam is an offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), an Islamist party that seeks to impose Sharia law in Bangladesh.
The protests are seen as a reprisal against the recent death sentence against Islamists accused in the mass killings and other war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. It has also been alleged that bloggers critical of opposition Islamist leaders are being targeted.
Arif Jebtik, a high-profile blogger, claimed he was framed by Islamists who allegedly published an anti-Islamic piece under his name. "It was published under my name and with my account. The blog is anti-Islamic and insults the Prophet Mohammad. I fear the blog was posted to frame and criminalize me and also give the Islamists a reason to attack me."
Jihad recruitment has evolved into using a mainstream format, it is now cool. Print and online magazines provide practical detailed instruction on how to commit terrorist acts. The latest offering, Lone Mujahid Pocketbook, Spring 2013, is published courtesy of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine, and is available on multiple websites.
It bills itself as "A Step to (sic) Step Guide on How to Become a Successful Lone Mujahid" and already has enthusiasts. Using hip, modern language conventions and rap lingo, the cover asks "R U dreamin' of wagin' jihadi attacks against kuffar? … Well, there's no need to travel abroad, coz the frontline has come to you. Wanna know how? Just read 'n' apply the contents of this guide which has practical 'n' creative ways to please Allah by killing his enemies 'n' healing the believers' chests." Creepily akin to a teen magazine, the Pocketbook specifically targets prospective American jihadis with tips, tactics and incitements to carry out terror attacks.
It offers Inspire's glossy, high quality graphics and a professional finish to pages methodically detailing the types of bombs; the best locations for attacks and other ways to generally reap mayhem. Using everyday supplies such as sugar, motor oil or pressure cookers, readers are enthusiastically encouraged to wage jihad in their communities. Many of the features are repeats from Inspire's first 10 issues.
For example, "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" and the "Ultimate Mowing Machine" offer simple, do-it-yourself advice to "cause chaos and terror among the public."
Mixing religious devotion with a desire to be cool in the MTV generation, the magazine offers an attractive picture for jihadi wannabes, perhaps inspired by the mass popular appeal of rapping gang-bangers who make gun violence "cool." Jihad has never been easier.
A chart of Inspire themes and content can be seen here.
Palestinian terrorists have launched numerous rockets in to Israel since Tuesday, prompting the largest Israeli response since Egypt brokered the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel last November.
The latest salvo launched by a Salafist militant group calling itself the Mujahadeen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem sent Israelis in Sderot and other towns near the Gaza border scrambling to get into bomb shelters. No injuries have been reported.
The group said the rocket attacks were in response to the death of a Palestinian prisoner detained by Israel who died of cancer on Tuesday while serving a life sentence.
Terrorists have sporadically fired rockets into Israel since the cease-fire including two during President Obama's visit last month.
Gaza is home to several Salafist groups that share al-Qaida's belief in a global jihad. They are believed to number anywhere from dozens to hundreds.
After retaliatory strikes were made Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon vowed that the Jewish state "will not allow shooting of any sort (even sporadic) towards our citizens and our forces," adding that he holds Hamas responsible.
More rockets were fired into Israel early Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
The Israeli military deployed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat in response to the tensions. Eilat came under attack from rockets fired from the Egyptian-controlled Sinai last year.
Not surprisingly, a Hamas spokesman blamed Israel for the latest round of fighting in an interview with Reuters television.
Egypt, which brokered the November agreement, has demanded an explanation from Hamas about cease-fire violations. Hamas acknowledged its responsibility for letting the terrorists fire rockets into Israel and told the Egyptians it would take action to stop the attacks.
A Salafist source told Agence France Presse that Hamas had arrested two Islamists in connection with the rocket attacks. Hamas's interior ministry, however, denied any arrests had been made.
"Our security apparatus is part of the resistance and does not arrest anyone who resists the occupation," said Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan. "On the contrary, we encourage resistance."
Nonetheless, the Salafist group urged Hamas to release the militants it says were detained.
Stewart slammed Morsi on the "Daily Show" Monday for arresting Bassem Youssef, the man known as "Egypt's Jon Stewart," for insulting Morsi and Islam on a similarly-themed comedy show.
"Democracy isn't democracy if it only lasts up until someone makes fun of your hat," Stewart said.
The Muslim Brotherhood responded with a post saying its Freedom and Justice political party objected to the American embassy's post as "flagrant meddling in #Egypt' domestic affairs." In a separate post, the party wrote: "Another undiplomatic & unwise move by @USEmbassyCairo, taking sides in an ongoing investigation & disregarding Egyptian law & culture."
Morsi's office also denounced the U.S. Embassy for the "Daily Show" post. "It's inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda," the president's office wrote.
That post appears to have been removed. U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson had the original post taken down, too, Foreign Policy Magazine's Cable Blog reports. State Department officials want it restored, the blog says, to avoid any appearance that online pressure led to its removal.
Morsi's office issued a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday denying that he had anything to do with charges being brought against Youssef.
"The Presidency reiterates the importance of freedom of expression and fully respects press freedom. All citizens are free to express themselves without the restrictions that prevailed in the era of the previous regime," the statement said. "The first legislation passed under President Mohamed Morsy was concerned with the prevention of pre-trial detention of journalists. This demonstrates the determination of the President to encourage press and media to operate in a free environment.
"We urge citizens to exercise their legal right to freedom of speech while respecting the rule of law."
Closer to home Mohamed Elibiary, a member of President Obama's Homeland Security Advisory Council, took issue with media attention on Youssef's arrest.
"A lot of AstroTurf advocacy in media on this," Elibiary wrote on his Twitter feed Tuesday. In politics, "AstroTurf" is a cynical term describing well-funded campaigns deceptively designed to appear to be grass-roots driven.
Elibiary was accused by Egypt's El-Rose Youssef magazine in December of having ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Congressional efforts to secure Purple Hearts for Fort Hood shooting victims have met with failure. Pentagon officials sent a position paper to congressional staffers Friday detailing the military's opposition.
Thirteen people were killed and 32 others were wounded in the 2009 massacre at the Army post. The attack has not been labeled a terrorist act despite evidence that the alleged shooter, Nidal Hasan, communicated with an American-born al-Qaida cleric and was motivated by Hasan's belief that America was at war with Islam.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, whose district includes Fort Hood, introduced legislation in February that would award combat status to military and civilian victims. That came after an ABC News investigation featured several victims who said they had been neglected by the system.
Sgt. Kimberly Munley told ABC that her gunshot wound should be considered no different than getting shot in combat by an insurgent in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Pentagon disagrees, saying that issuing a Purple Heart to victims could "irrevocably alter the fundamental character of this time-honored decoration" and "undermine the prosecution of Major Nidal Hasan by materially and directly compromising Major Hasan's ability to receive a fair trial."
Hasan's trial is set to begin on May 29. The Pentagon has refused to classify his rampage as terrorism and classified it as "workplace violence" instead.
Carter is backing down for now, saying he may renew the push after Hasan's trial.
"The DOD position paper is dead wrong to oppose this legislation," Carter told ABC News. "These victims deserve recognition and compensation for the injuries and loss of life from a direct attack on a U.S. military installation."
The Pentagon paper isn't sitting well with victims, many of whom have filed a lawsuit against the Army for classifying the shooting as "workplace violence" and for putting their care at a lower priority than those who have suffered injuries sustained in combat overseas.
"It's a slap in the face. Given everything that has occurred over the last three and a half years, this is incomprehensible, and in many respects, not worth of the Army. It's regrettable and tremendously wrongheaded," victim attorney Reed Rubenstein told ABC News.
No single critic of the Muslim Brotherhood has been as effective as Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian funny man known by many as "Egypt's Jon Stewart," but that effectiveness has come with a cost. An arrest warrant for the comedian was issued on Saturday on charges of "insulting Islam" and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
He was interrogated for five hours Sunday and released on bail.
Youssef's show, "al-Bermaneg," attracts 30 million viewers throughout the Arab world and is known for lampooning Egypt's political and religious elites, including Morsi. The regime's chief prosecutor opened an investigation into Youssef in January after receiving a complaint.
The arrest represents the most serious affront to free speech since the Brotherhood took power last year, Human Rights Watch director Heba Morayef tells The Guardian. "This is the crackdown," she said.
Youssef's warrant came less than a day after nine opposition activists and four lawyers were arrested in Alexandria. It also followed legal proceedings launched by Morsi-appointed Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah against five prominent activists for allegedly inciting violence against the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Pathetic efforts to smother dissent and intimidate media is a sign of a shaky regime and a bunker mentality," Opposition leader Mohamed Elbaradei wrote in a Twitter post Saturday.
Youssef promises to take his show's satire "through the roof" and not give in to intimidation. Egyptian prosecutors charged Youssef under a 200-year-old law that he finds absurd.
"If we made a whole revolution and we didn't change a law like this, then this is quite ridiculous," Youssef told CBS News. "President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have not made any serious steps to actually improve liberties in the country."
"This kind of program is extremely new to the region ... We are destroying taboos and taking away the holiness of leadership through satire, through humor," Youssef continued. "So I think many people up there are panicking, and they don't know how to deal with it."
Targeting Youssef may backfire against the regime because of the widespread international press attention his situation has received.
In the clearest condemnation of the Morsi government to date, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland condemned Youssef 's arrest on Monday, along with the other recent efforts to stifle free speech in Egypt.
"We are concerned that the public prosecutor appears to have questioned and then released on bail Bassem Youssef on charges of insulting Islam and President Morsi," Nuland said in Monday's State Department press briefing. "This coupled with recent arrest warrants issued for political activists is evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on freedom of expression."
Nuland also condemned the Morsi regime for being slow to investigate allegations of police brutality and suppression of press freedom during the December 2012 demonstrations connected with the constitutional referendum.
"So there does not seem to be an evenhanded application of justice here," she said.
American journalists have been "subdued" when it comes to reporting on Islamic radicalization, "largely by intimidation and the fear of accusations of Islamophobia –[which] is the Islamists' greatest coup," Muslim physician and writer Qanta Ahmed argues in a new column.
She points to Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson's new documentary, "Jihad in America: The Grand Deception," for examples about radical connections and ideals espoused by national Islamist groups that are ignored by the media.
"'The Grand Deception' exposes radical Islamists in their own words," Ahmed writes, something "shattering to any Muslim in America - and is exactly why our communities invite unwanted scrutiny. In their own voices, American Islamists demand violent jihad against the United States."
The documentary has impressed other viewers, with Orange County Register editorial writer Rory Cohen calling it a "must see" for showing "how far the Muslim Brotherhood has reached within our own political fabric in less than three decades."
But media coverage fails to show the diversity of ideas and beliefs held by Muslims in America, Ahmed writes, noting adherents to 70 sects and people with roots in nearly as many countries. There's a "battle for America's Muslim narrative" that the media fails to recognize and cover.
"If only the media paid the same scrutiny to such data as to that gathered by the IPT in The Grand Deception … we would greatly advance the public debate. It's time to emerge from our torpor. Refusing to debate these issues, however uncomfortable or intimidating, is a grand deception indeed, one which we accomplish at our own hand and our own peril."
A 30-year-old Army veteran from Phoenix is charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States after he acknowledged fighting with a designated terrorist group in Syria.
Eric Harroun was discovered after posting videos of him with al-Nusrah Front fighters earlier this year. He met with FBI agents in Virginia after returning to the United States earlier this week, telling them he knew the U.S. designated al-Nusrah a terrorist group but still agreed to be on an "RPG Team," carrying rockets, an AK-47 and anti-armor rockets which were fired at forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
He posted several pictures and videos online showing him carrying rocket propelled grenades and other weapons. The video that vaulted him to national attention came in January, and featured him celebrating in English after a Syrian helicopter appeared to be shot down. He also posted the incident on his Facebook page, writing "Downed a Syrian Helicopter then Looted all Intel and Weapons!"
In another video, he tells Assad "your days are numbered. You are going down in flames. You should just quit now while you can and leave. You're gonna die no matter what. Where you go we will find you and kill you."
He met earlier with FBI agents at a U.S. Consulate in Turkey when he traveled there. He described how al-Nusrah terrorists, who are also part of al-Qaida in Iraq, initially were suspicious of him. Those concerns disappeared after Harroun took part in an attack in which he helped save the life of a wounded comrade. He said he believed he shot 10 people in total, but didn't know how many died.
He also told investigators "that he hated al-Qaeda, that he did not know any al-Qaeda members, and that he would fight against any regime if it imposed Sharia law in Syria because he was opposed to all forms of oppression," an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Paul Higginbotham said.
Harroun also expressed a desire to go to Palestinian territories, writing on Facebook that "The only good Zionist is a dead Zionist."
He served in the U.S. Army from 2000-03, receiving a medical discharge after he was hurt in a car accident.
As we noted earlier this week, Hizballah's alliance with dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria's bloody civil war has left the Shia organization politically weakened.
Investigations also have found Hizballah responsible for a terrorist bombing in Bulgaria last year and for sending an operative to Cyprus to scout targets for attacks on Israeli tourists. But that has yet to be enough for the European Union (EU) to designate Hizballah a terrorist group.
The parliament in a Persian Gulf state, Bahrain, voted this week to do what the EU won't. The terrorist designation is believed to be driven by sectarian factors – Bahrain's ruling class is Sunni, but its population is mostly Shia, the Times of Israel reports. Bahraini officials blame Hizballah for stoking anti-government protests since the Arab Spring began. But they also blame Hizballah for bombings last fall in the capital Manama that killed two people.
President Obama called on the EU to designate Hizballah a terrorist group during last week's trip to Israel. He cited the Bulgaria bombing, saying Israelis were targeted "because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live and love and raise families. That's why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is: a terrorist organization."
Hizballah replied by saying Obama "speaks like an employee of the Zionist entity [Israel]."
A Bulgarian investigation found Hizballah responsible for last July's a bombing attack that killed five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver. Interim Bulgarian Prime Minister Marin Raykov said he won't push the EU to designate Hizballah, but will release more information about the investigation.
"For Bulgaria it is of key importance to have a common position, to have a consensus on this [within the EU]," Raykov said. "We will continue the investigation … We will provide the needed evidence."
Some EU countries indicated that they aren't persuaded to act against Hizballah by existing Bulgarian information. Others have expressed concern that designating Hizballah would increase tension in the Middle East.
Under that standard, no evidence would prove sufficient. Coddling Hizballah has only allowed it to stockpile tens of thousands of missiles capable of striking the heart of Israel. Its forces are fighting in Syria and training forces to buck up a ruthless dictator. That, in turn, is stoking sectarian tension in Lebanon.
And its operatives continue to plot terror in Europe and elsewhere. Investigations tie Hizballah to plots and attacks on Israeli diplomatic officials in Asia and Europe starting in 2011.In addition to the Bulgarian investigation, a court in Cyprus last week convicted a Hizballah operative guilty on five charges relating to his work scouting travel patterns of Israeli tourists.
Hizballah paid Hossam Taleb Yaccoub for six missions in Cyprus between 2011 and his arrest last summer, just days before the Bulgarian attack. His mission echoed aspects of the Bulgarian bombing, including tracking Israeli flight schedules, identifying tour buses which carry Israelis and more.
This is not enough for the EU to act. It would be difficult to imagine writing this under other circumstances, but if only the Europeans could be as clear-eyed about terrorists as Bahrain.