Dina Temple-Raston

Dina Temple-Raston is NPR's counter-terrorism correspondent and has been reporting from all over the world for the network's news magazines since 2007.

She recently completed a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University where she studied the intersection of Big Data and intelligence.

Prior to NPR, Temple-Raston was a longtime foreign correspondent for Bloomberg News in Asia and served as Bloomberg's White House correspondent during the Clinton Administration. She has written four books, including The Jihad Next Door: Rough Justice in the Age of Terror, about the Lackawanna Six terrorism case. She is a frequent contributor to the PBS Newshour, a regular reviewer of national security books for the Washington Post Book World, and also contributes to the New Yorker, WNYC's Radiolab, the TLS, and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others.

She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and she has an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Manhattanville College.

After failing to predict the Arab Spring, intelligence officials are now exploring whether Big Data, the combing of billions of pieces of disparate electronic information, can help them identify hot spots before they explode. The intelligence community has always been in the business of forecasting the future. The question is whether tapping into publicly available data — Twitter and news feeds and blogs among other things — can help them do that faster and more precisely.

The U.S. has been carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan for some eight years, but it's done so under a policy that has emerged piecemeal over that time.

"It started in 2004, when drones were really an oddity," says Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was on the State Department's policy planning staff when it all started during the Bush administration.

For the past decade, al-Qaida has been a top-down organization.

Letters seized at Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan showed that he was a hands-on manager, approving everything from operations to leadership changes in affiliate groups.

But there's early intelligence that al-Qaida may have had a small role in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, on Sept. 11.

If al-Qaida involvement is confirmed, it may signal that al-Qaida has changed.

The attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya last week has led to dueling versions of what unfolded that night in Benghazi.

To hear the Obama administration tell it, the attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was spontaneous — and staged by local extremists who saw an opportunity to hijack peaceful demonstrations against an offensive film.

The Libyans have a different view. They say it was a premeditated strike, launched by foreign fighters with ties to al-Qaida.

Almost 28 percent of the detainees transferred out of the U.S.-run detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have either returned to terrorism or are suspected of having done so, the Director of National Intelligence says in a new report.

There are new glimmers of hope for the only known U.S. prisoner of war held captive in Afghanistan — 26-year-old Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban more than three years ago. After lengthy discussions, it appears his captors may be more receptive than ever before to finding a way to send him home.

Late last month, counterterrorism officials discovered a disturbing video on YouTube that showed what appeared to be a faction of the Syrian rebel army standing in front of a fluttering black banner. The mysterious flag — which read "no god but God" in white Arabic cursive — is thought to be a reproduction of the Prophet Muhammad's battle flag. It has also become al-Qaida in Iraq's calling card in Syria.

The latest detainee to leave the Guantanamo Bay prison boarded an Air Force jet earlier this week. His destination: Sudan. The man, 52-year-old Ibrahim al-Qosi, had admitted to being Osama bin Laden's bookkeeper, driver and sometime cook, and he was one of the first prisoners to arrive at Guantanamo in 2002.

Now, he is the latest to leave. His departure brings the total detainee population at the U.S. naval base in Cuba down to 168 — from a high of 680 in May 2003.

Al-Qaida has been subtly testing a new strategy. In the past couple of years, the group's affiliates have been trying their hand at governing — actually taking over territory and then trying to win over citizens who live there. It happened with various degrees of success in Somalia and Yemen, and recently in the northern deserts of Mali.

An unusual terrorism case started in Nigeria late last week. Prosecutors in the capital city of Abuja accused two local men of being members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. They were charged with accepting thousands of dollars from the group to recruit potential terrorists inside Nigeria and then send them to Yemen. Olaniyi Lawal, 31, and Luqman Babatunde, 30, have pleaded not guilty.

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The U.S. military has taken a close look at itself and found evidence of threats within its ranks.

MONTAGNE: The Pentagon, along with the FBI, has conducted more than 100 investigations into possible Islamist extremists inside the military.

NPR has learned that about a dozen of those cases are considered serious.

The FBI has conducted more than 100 investigations into suspected Islamic extremists within the military, NPR has learned. About a dozen of those cases are considered serious.

Officials define that as a case requiring a formal investigation to gather information against suspects who appear to have demonstrated a strong intent to attack military targets. This is the first time the figures have been publicly disclosed.

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Terrorists are still targeting the U.S. homeland. We were reminded of that with news this past week that al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen plotted to blow up a plane headed to the United States.

The alleged mastermind of the Sept.11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other defendants appeared in a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, over the weekend to answer a roster of charges filed against them. The hearing was supposed to be a straightforward arraignment, but nothing went according to plan.

The appearance of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other men in a military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ends a nearly decade-long back and forth over how best to try the men the U.S. says helped plan, pay for and execute the Sept. 11 attacks.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — or KSM, as he is known — has claimed that he was the mastermind of the attacks "from A to Z." But his ties to terrorism, by his own admission, go beyond that one plot. KSM saw himself as the sun around which his network revolved.

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