WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is set to at least partially bring out into the open some of the U.S.-directed drone program, a key component of counterterrorism strategy, as he outlines the contours of the continuing threat to American security. On the eve of the president's speech at the National Defense University, the Obama administration revealed for the first time that a fourth American citizen had been killed in secretive drone strikes abroad. The killings of three other Americans in counterterror operations since 2009 were widely known before a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy acknowledged the four deaths.
LONDON (AP) - Two men accused of butchering a British soldier had been investigated previously by security services, a British official said Thursday, as investigators searched several locations and tried to determine whether the men were part of a wider plot to instill terror on the streets of London. The men, suspected of hacking the off-duty soldier to death while horrified bystanders watched, boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence in images recorded on witnesses' mobile phones. Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, they waited for the arrival of police, who shot them in the legs, according to a passerby who tried to save the dying soldier.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A Chechen immigrant shot to death in Florida after an altercation with an FBI agent implicated himself in a triple slaying that officials believe may have been connected to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, authorities said. Ibragim Todashev's Chechen roots and mixed martial arts background mirror that of Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old Boston bombing suspect killed in a shootout with police days after the April 15 terrorist attack. The two also had lived in the Boston area.
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - One loved the spotlight. Another was nicknamed "The Wall" because of the force he brought to the soccer field. When a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado ripped through Moore, Okla., it took with it 24 lives. Seven of them were children at Plaza Towers Elementary school; two were only babies.
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - The Boy Scouts of America's national leadership will vote Thursday on whether to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks, a critical and emotionally charged moment for one of the nation's oldest youth organizations and its millions of members. About 1,400 voting members of BSA's national council are to cast ballots Thursday on a resolution to end a policy that allows youth Scouts to be excluded based only on sexual orientation. The ban on gay adult leaders would remain in place.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - An American citizen killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2011 was arrested by Pakistani authorities three years earlier but escaped after being released on bail, officials said Thursday. The Obama administration revealed Wednesday that Jude Kenan Mohammad died in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region, making him the fourth American citizen killed by unmanned aircraft in Pakistan and Yemen. The confirmation came as President Barack Obama is expected to deliver a speech in Washington on Thursday that will focus in large part on the administration's expanded use of drones to kill hundreds of people in those two countries and other places where terrorists have taken refuge.
LONDON (AP) - Financial markets around the world were roiled Thursday after Japanese stocks suffered their biggest slide since the country was hit by a devastating tsunami more than two years ago. Several reasons have been blamed for the 7.3 percent, or 1,143 points, fall in the Nikkei index to 14,483.98, including a spike in the Japanese government's borrowing costs and unexpectedly weak Chinese manufacturing figures.
BEIRUT (AP) - Opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad traded heavy machine gun fire and mortar shells in the Lebanese port city of Tripoli, leaving five people dead in what was described as some of the heaviest fighting there in years, officials said Thursday. Tripoli has been a frequent flashpoint of sectarian tensions stoked by the civil war in neighboring Syria. The latest overnight deaths brought to 16 the number of people killed in clashes there this week, and the overall number of wounded rose to 190, said a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - An 80-year-old Japanese man who began the year with his fourth heart operation became the oldest conqueror of Mount Everest on Thursday, a feat he called "the world's best feeling" even with an 81-year-old Nepalese climber not far behind him. Yuichiro Miura, a former extreme skier who also climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak when he was 70 and 75, reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official and Miura's Tokyo-based support team.