Moner Mohammad Abusalha went from a basketball-playing teen in Florida to a suicide bomber in Syria, and authorities are trying to figure out how it happened.
Abusalha, 22, trained with the Nusra Front extremist group in Syria, and in May drove a truck filled with explosives into a restaurant in the northern part of the country. The New York Times reports that investigators discovered that after going to training, he returned to the United States for several months before going back to Syria for the suicide bombing.
Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. and Europe view the return of "radicalized citizens from Syria a looming threat," but with so many able to travel abroad and fly under the radar, it's hard to determine who has been trained by militants. "Although we cannot speak to details in this specific case, U.S. officials have warned for months of the difficulties of identifying Americans who travel to Syria to engage in armed conflict," F.B.I. spokesman Michael Kortan told The Times. "This incident exemplifies the challenges faced by the F.B.I. in detecting U.S. citizens who seek to travel to Syria to engage in jihad."
Authorities are attempting to get a clear picture of what Abusalha was doing in the U.S. during his last trip, and what his motivation was to join the fighting in Syria in the first place. On Monday, Nusra Front released a video of Abusalha tearing up and burning his American passport. In the tape, he mentions trying to recruit other Americans to go to Syria to fight, and said that while walking to the airport he "asked Allah the whole way to make it easy for me, and Allah made it easy for me." He also said he flew to Turkey first, and then entered Syria with just $20 to his name.
Officials said that they received information about Abusalha wanting to commit a suicide attack shortly before he went through with it. Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said last week that law enforcement and intelligence agencies believe there are more than 1,000 Westerners, including about 100 Americans, who have been trained in Syria. --Catherine Garcia
Come Monday, the city of Paris will begin removing the hundreds of thousands of "love locks" tourists affix to the Pont des Arts bridge, The Local reports. Visitors might think it's cute, but for locals, the locks are an eyesore and a nuisance.
"This phenomenon generates two problems: a lasting degradation of the heritage of Paris and also a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists," a Paris Town Hall statement read.
The city will install glass panels in place of the locks. Last year, a portion of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks, which also adorn other bridges throughout the city and even the Eiffel tower. Julie Kliegman
As part of our ongoing series on the 2016 candidates, produced in partnership with Rubin Report, The Week's Marc Ambinder and Dave Rubin concisely analyze the former Maryland governor's biggest strengths and weaknesses. Watch below:
Every nail salon in New York will be required to post a workers' bill of rights in plain view of employees and customers, The New York Times reports. The announcement comes after the newspaper highlighted widespread exploitation and abuse of manicurists, many of whom are new immigrants.
The posters Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Friday will be printed in 10 languages. They include information about minimum wage, tipping, safety measures, and a phone number to report violations. Officials will also hand out information cards to consumers outlining questions they should ask upon entering nail salons.
"We’re asking New Yorkers to help; we're asking New Yorkers to get involved," Cuomo said at a news conference with New York City advocate Letitia James. Julie Kliegman
Empire's first season aired its finale in March, and fans have been eagerly waiting to find out when they'll finally get to see all those dangling cliffhangers resolved.
Unfortunately, the season two premiere date is still pretty far away — but at last you can put it down on your calendar. Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie, took to Twitter to reveal that Empire will return on September 23. Set your DVRs accordingly. Scott Meslow
Ross William Ulbricht, 31, thec reator of black market website Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.
After its 2011 launch, Ulbricht ran the underground cyber-bazaar, where anonymous users used the cryptocurrency Bitcoin to purchase drugs, hacking tools, and fake identification, for about two years before he was arrested.
Ulbricht received the maximum sentence for his felony convictions of conspiracy, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Stephanie Talmadge
A Texas high school senior was suspended and barred from graduation this week after a can of Bud Light was found in a cooler in his truck. Quintin Walker says he didn't realize the single beer can was still in the soda-filled cooler that his mother had packed for a family picnic the previous weekend. "I worked 12 years to walk across that stage," Walker said. "It's just crazy."
Former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert reportedly paid off a man to conceal past sexual misconduct, two federal law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times. A federal grand jury indicted Hastert on Thursday for allegedly evading currency reporting requirements. He reportedly withdrew the cash to give to an unidentified person, who one official claimed is a man Hastert wanted to conceal a past relationship with.
The alleged misconduct, which one source called "sex" and the other confirmed involved sexual abuse, dates back to Hastert's stint as a Yorkville, Illinois, high school wrestling coach and teacher, LAT reports.
"It goes back a long way, back to then," one source told the paper. “It has nothing to do with public corruption or a corruption scandal. Or to his time in office." Julie Kliegman