AP News in Brief at 8:58 p.m. EDT


White House: 4 U.S. citizens killed in drone strikes since 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that four American citizens have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since 2009. The disclosure to Congress comes on the eve of a major national security speech by President Barack Obama in which he plans to pledge more transparency to Congress in his counterterrorism policy.

It was already known that three Americans had been killed in U.S. drones strikes in counterterrorism operations overseas, but Attorney General Eric Holder disclosed details that had remained secret and also that a fourth American had been killed.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Holder said that the government targeted and killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and that the U.S. “is aware” of the killing of three others who were not targets of counterterror operations.

Al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric, was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. The other two known cases are Samir Khan, who was killed in the same drone strike as al-Awlaki and al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a Denver native, who also was killed in Yemen.

The newly revealed case is that of Jude Kenan Mohammed, one of eight men indicted by federal authorities in 2009, accused of being part of a plot to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va. Before he could be arrested, Mohammad fled the country to join jihadi fighters in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where he was among those killed by a U.S. drone.

FBI: Man fatally shot in Boston bombing probe

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Chechen immigrant was shot to death by authorities in central Florida early Wednesday after he turned violent while being questioned about his ties to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, officials said.

Ibragim Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, was fatally shot at his Orlando townhouse during a meeting with an FBI agent and two Massachusetts state troopers, authorities said. The agent was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Three law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Todashev had lunged at the FBI agent with a knife. However, two of those officials said later in the day it was no longer clear what had happened. The third official had not received any new information.

The FBI gave no details on why it was interested in Todashev except to say that he was being questioned as part of the Boston investigation. However, two officials briefed on the investigation said he had implicated himself as having been involved in a 2011 triple-slaying in the Boston suburb of Waltham that authorities believe may have been connected to one of the men behind the bombings.

Several of Todashev’s former roommates who were questioned said that he knew the older bombing suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, from mixed martial arts fighting in Boston and that the FBI was asking about him.

Kerry pushes peace talks on Syrian rebels

AMMAN, Jordan — The U.S. and several key allies looked again Wednesday for a strategy to end Syria’s civil war, their united efforts unable at the moment to stem the Assad regime’s military gains and Washington still unwilling to join those providing the rebels with lethal military aid.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allowed that President Barack Obama won’t send American troops to Syria. But he made clear that more aid to the rebels would be coming if the regime refuses to cooperate with an international effort — to be put together in June in Geneva — to form a transitional government.

“The only alternative to a negotiated settlement,” Kerry told the larger meeting, “is more killing, is more innocent civilian deaths, more chaos, more instability in part of the world that has already suffered too much.”

By wire sources