In Brief | Nation & World, February 11, 2014


American terror suspect possibly targeted for drone attack

WASHINGTON — The case of an American citizen and suspected member of al-Qaida who is allegedly planning attacks on U.S. targets overseas underscores the complexities of President Barack Obama’s new stricter targeting guidelines for the use of deadly drones.

The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen. The Pentagon drones that could are barred from the country where he’s hiding, and the Justice Department has not yet finished building a case against him.

Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And Obama’s new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.

Militants accidentally set off car bomb killing 21 at Iraqi training camp

BAGHDAD — An instructor teaching his militant recruits how to make car bombs accidentally set off explosives in his demonstration Monday, killing 21 of them in a huge blast that alerted authorities to the existence of the rural training camp in an orchard north of Baghdad. Nearly two dozen people were arrested, including wounded insurgents trying to hobble away from the scene.

The fatal goof by the al-Qaida breakaway group that dominates the Sunni insurgency in Iraq happened on the same day that the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, a prominent Sunni whom the militants consider a traitor, escaped unhurt from a roadside bomb attack on his motorcade in the northern city of Mosul.

Nevertheless, the events underscored the determination of the insurgents to rebuild and regain the strength they enjoyed in Iraq at the height of the war until U.S.-backed Sunni tribesmen turned against them. The militants are currently battling for control of mainly Sunni areas of western Iraq in a key test of the Shiite-led government’s ability to maintain security more than two years after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Aid workers rush to evacuate residents as truce extended in Syria

BEIRUT — Aid officials rushed to evacuate more women, children and elderly from rebel-held areas that have been blockaded by government troops for more than a year in Syria’s third-largest city, Homs, after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in the city was renewed for three more days Monday.

The truce, which began Friday, has been shaken by continued shelling and shooting that prevented some residents from escaping and limited the amount of food aid officials have been able to deliver into the besieged neighborhoods.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos sharply criticized the two sides, saying U.N. and Syrian Red Crescent workers were “deliberately targeted.”

The drama in Homs, where Amos said around 800 civilians have been evacuated so far, played out as activists on Monday reported new sectarian killings in Syria’s civil war.

Is it art? Comedy? ‘Dumb Starbucks’ in Los Angeles generates lines, buzz

LOS ANGELES — It’s a caffeine-charged Hollywood whodunit: Just whose bright idea was the “Dumb Starbucks” coffee shop that popped up and started serving free drinks from the corner of an otherwise uncelebrated strip mall.

On Monday morning, a line from the store wound alongside the parking lot and up the block, with some patrons stepping out to snap pictures in front of a green awning and mermaid logo that is familiar — except that the word “Dumb” is prominently featured.

They weren’t coming for gourmet fare: Their descriptions of the coffee ranged from “horrible” to “bitter,” and one parent said his daughter complained that the hot chocolate was like water.

Instead, they are just coming to say they came, and to score a white paper cup with a sticker bearing the curious logo.

“It was a pretty dumb idea to come out in the cold” and wait for nearly two hours to get a coffee, joked Anthony Solis, who lives in nearby Hollywood.

By wire sources