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Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Topic: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom (Read 360946 times)
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1550 on:
May 05, 2015, 09:46:52 AM »
Strange that a muslim convert missed the part where islam is a religion of peace. How could he not know?
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1551 on:
May 05, 2015, 11:46:53 AM »
Quote from: G M on May 05, 2015, 09:46:52 AM
Strange that a muslim convert missed the part where islam is a religion of peace. How could he not know?
CAIR has come out against the shooting, sort of.
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1552 on:
May 05, 2015, 12:53:19 PM »
The words are OK, their sincerity is highly dubious.
Heroic cop in Garland TX
Reply #1553 on:
May 06, 2015, 02:11:37 PM »
Stratfor on Garland TX
Reply #1554 on:
May 10, 2015, 12:17:18 AM »
U.S. Policies Succeed in Garland
May 7, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
By Scott Stewart
On Monday, I read an editorial in the National Review claiming that the events that transpired in Garland, Texas, on Sunday evening, when a security guard shot dead two would-be terrorists, were the result of "luck." The author went on to criticize the U.S. government for its inability to prevent a known jihadist sympathizer from launching an attack.
However, if one looks at the Garland attack thoughtfully — and in the context of the overall dynamic of the jihadist threat in the post-9/11 world — it is apparent that this was not just a matter of mere happenstance. Indeed, the poorly executed attack launched by two untrained jihadist wannabes was clearly the result of the devolution of the jihadist threat in response to U.S. counterterrorism efforts, a phenomenon we at Stratfor have been carefully tracking for a decade now.
Let's take a closer look at how Sunday's incident, and the events leading up to it, fit into our larger analytical narrative.
On the evening of May 3, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi drove up to the entrance of the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas. Finding the entrance blocked by a police squad car, they got out of their vehicle and opened fire with their AK-style rifles, wounding a school district security officer before being shot and killed by police.
The two gunmen had traveled to Garland from Phoenix, Ariz., to attack the provocative event, in which the organizers were offering a prize for the best cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammed. The keynote speaker at the event was Geert Wilders, a Dutch lawmaker with a long history of involvement in events critical of Islam. Wilders offended most Muslims — and not just the violent jihadists — with his 2008 film Fitna. These actions landed Wilders on an al Qaeda hit list.
Simpson, a Muslim convert, was previously arrested for attempting to travel to Somalia to fight with al Shabaab, a jihadist group that has since become an al Qaeda franchise. In March 2011, Simpson was found guilty of making false statements to special agents of the FBI. Simpson reportedly first came to the attention of the FBI because of his connection to Paul Hall, aka Hassan Abu Jihaad, a former U.S. Navy sailor aboard the USS Benfold who was arrested in 2007 and later convicted for passing military intelligence to al Qaeda.
Once the FBI opened an investigation into Simpson, the agency asked a Phoenix-based informant to approach him to determine if he posed a threat. According to court documents from the case, Simpson told the informant he planned to travel to South Africa in January 2010 under the auspices of attending an Islamic seminary. Once in South Africa, Simpson planned to make his way to Somalia to train and fight with al Shabaab. FBI agents questioned Simpson in January 2010 about his pending travel, and he denied the plans. The FBI then arrested him and charged him with making false statements, preventing him from leaving the United States. Prosecutors attempted to get the penalty of Simpson's false statement charge increased by arguing that there was a nexus to terrorism, but in March 2011 the federal district judge presiding over the case ruled that the government did not sufficiently prove the terrorism nexus, so Simpson was sentenced to only three years' probation.
Soofi, who coincidentally was born in Garland to an American mother and Pakistani father, was Simpson's roommate. Soofi had no criminal history, and there was little preventing him from legally purchasing the semi-automatic AK-style rifles used in the attack.
From the manner in which the Garland attack unfolded, it is readily apparent that Simpson and Soofi were not well trained and did not make much effort to plan their attack. They were winging it.
Conversation: A Grassroots Threat Deterred in Garland, Texas
As noted above, Stratfor has been discussing the devolution of the jihadist threat posed to the West for many years now. Prior to 9/11, the threat stemmed predominately from professional terrorist cadre dispatched by the al Qaeda core. But in the post-9/11 world, the threat now emanates primarily from grassroots jihadists who live in the West.
This change has come about not because of luck but as a direct result of the United States and its allies placing an incredible amount of effort and resources into their counterterrorism efforts. The five levers of counterterrorism — intelligence, law enforcement, military, diplomacy and financial sanctions — have been employed in a relentless manner against al Qaeda and its franchise groups. Despite a few well-publicized instances of mismanagement, abuse and blunders, the U.S.-led counterterrorism campaign has severely damaged al Qaeda to the point that the core group has not been able to conduct its long-threatened follow-up attack to 9/11. It is also reasonable to argue that one of the significant elements that led to the Islamic State's rapid expansion in recent months was al Qaeda's weakness.
As a result of the immense and unrelenting pressure the United States and its allies applied to al Qaeda, as early as 2004, jihadist ideologues such as Abu Musab al-Suri began to publicly advocate that jihadists should abandon the hierarchical operational model and embrace a leaderless resistance model of operations. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula repeated those calls in 2009, and the al Qaeda core followed suit in 2010. Most recently, the Islamic State has called for its followers living in the West to adopt the same model.
Switching from a hierarchical operational model to a leaderless resistance model is a sign of weakness, not strength. While leaderless resistance is by design far more challenging for counterterrorism forces to track and defeat, it also means that the would-be attackers are far less capable because they do not have access to the resources and capabilities of a professional terrorist organization. Certainly these less capable attackers can and do kill people, but since they lack sophisticated terrorist tradecraft they usually conduct less-than-optimal attacks and frequently botch them, especially if they try to attack well-protected targets.
Following the Garland attack, some have commented that there has been a recent shift toward armed assaults by grassroots jihadists, but this trend is actually something we forecasted five years ago in May 2010, and we made that forecast specifically because of the shift toward the leaderless resistance model.
The Islamic State has taken credit for the failed Garland attack. That such a powerful group would feel compelled to take credit for such a tactically flawed operation clearly demonstrates the limit of their assets inside the United States. It also emphasizes the Islamic State's heavy reliance on grassroots attackers to conduct attacks outside the group's core operational areas in Iraq and Syria. While the group has proved quite proficient at carrying out attacks and assassinations within its primary areas of operation, it has long struggled to project its terrorist capabilities beyond those core areas, much less transnationally. The reliance on grassroots jihadists to conduct attacks means that the Islamic State lacks the capability to control, train and assist such operatives. As a result, many grassroots attacks are amateurish.
This is exactly what we saw from Simpson and Soofi. One of the reasons Simpson lacked the terrorist tradecraft to plan and conduct a successful attack is that he was prevented from traveling to Somalia in 2010. The sting operation that resulted in Simpson's 2011 conviction also likely left him leery of reaching out to more capable jihadists for help. As we've seen in prior cases, such as shoe bomber Richard Reid and underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, even an unskilled grassroots jihadist is capable of killing hundreds of people if he is trained and equipped by a professional terrorist organization. Keeping grassroots jihadists from making contact with trained terrorist operatives is an important goal.
The FBI will be criticized for not tracking Simpson more carefully and stopping the attack before it could be launched. But the truth is that there are simply too many potential attackers in the West for the government to keep them under constant surveillance. Furthermore, the efforts of the government are focused primarily on tracking and countering professional, trained terrorist operatives who pose a more severe threat. Moreover, until someone breaks a law, it is difficult to take them out of circulation. This means that some of these grassroots actors will inevitably slip through the cracks and launch attacks. Some of these attacks will be botched and others will kill people.
Simpson and Soofi conducted a half-baked attack. It now appears that they attacked a target that was beyond their capabilities because of encouragement from Islamic State figures on Twitter. But their incompetence was not a result of sheer luck. Instead, it was the result of a long history of counterterrorism efforts that have shaped the current dynamic. As long as jihadism exists as an ideology and is able to seduce people such as Simpson and Soofi and prod them into action, these types of attacks are going to continue.
ISIS Hit List
Reply #1555 on:
May 10, 2015, 09:09:40 AM »
SEction 215 and related matters
Reply #1556 on:
May 12, 2015, 12:48:03 PM »
Stratfor: Don't take Terrorism at Face Value
Reply #1557 on:
May 14, 2015, 10:28:07 AM »
Don't Take Terrorism Threats at Face Value
May 14, 2015 | 08:00 GMT
By Scott Stewart
The Islamic State has demonstrated in the past year that it is quite adept in its use of social media as a tool to raise money, recruit fighters and inspire grassroots jihadists to conduct attacks. This week, however, its social media network was heavily focused on making threats. On May 11, Twitter users associated with the Islamic State unleashed two seemingly unrelated threat campaigns. One using the hashtag #LondonAttack, displayed photos of London and weapons (including AK-47 rifles and what appeared to be suicide bombs) and urged Muslims in the United Kingdom not to visit shopping malls. The second campaign threatened to launch a cyber war against the United States and Europe.
The Islamic State took credit for the botched May 3 attack in Garland, Texas, saying it would carry out harder and "more bitter" attacks inside the United States. Coinciding with the Islamic State's threats, FBI Director James Comey warned that his agency does not have a handle on the grassroots terrorism problem in the United States. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson noted that the United States has entered "a new phase in the global terrorist threat, where the so-called lone wolf could strike at any moment." Michael Morell, the former Deputy Director of the CIA, added his voice by claiming that the Islamic State has the ability to conduct a 9/11-style attack today.
While these statements and warnings paint a bleak picture, a threat should never be taken at face value — when placed into context, these claims aren't as dire as they seem.
When analyzing a direct threat from a person or organization it is important to understand that in most cases they come from a position of weakness rather than power. The old saying "all bark and no bite" is based on this reality. This applies to personal threats as well as terror-related threats. Terrorism is frequently used by weak actors as a way of taking asymmetrical military action against a superior opponent. Despite its battlefield successes against the Iraqi and Syrian governments and militant groups, the Islamic State is certainly far weaker militarily than the United States and Europe.
An important part of threat evaluation is assessing if the party making the threat possesses both the intention to conduct such an action and the capability to carry out that intent. Indeed, many threats are made by groups or individuals who have neither intent nor capability. They are made simply to create fear and panic or to influence the conduct or behavior of the target, as in the cases of a person who sends a "white powder" letter to a government office or a student who phones in a bomb threat to his school to get out of taking a test.
Generally, if a person or group possesses both the intent and capability to conduct an act of violence, they just do it. There is little need to waste the time and effort to threaten what they are about to do. In fact, by telegraphing their intent they might provide their target with the opportunity to avoid the attack. Professional terrorists often invest a lot of time and resources in a plot, especially a spectacular transnational attack. Because of this, they take great pains to hide their operational activity so that the target or authorities do not catch wind of it and employ countermeasures that would prevent the successful execution of the scheme. Instead of telegraphing their attack, terrorist groups prefer to conduct the attack and exploit it after the fact, something sometimes called the propaganda of the deed.
Certainly, people who possess the capability to fulfill the threat sometimes make threats. But normally in such cases the threat is made in a conditional manner. For example, the United States threatened to invade Afghanistan unless the Taliban government handed over Osama bin Laden. The Islamic State, however, is not in that type of dominating position. If it dispatched a team or teams of professional terrorist operatives to the United States and Europe to conduct terrorist attacks, the very last thing it would want to do is alert said countries to the presence of those teams and have them get rolled up. Trained terrorist operatives who have the ability to travel in the United States or Europe are far too valuable to jeopardize with a Twitter threat.
Rather than reveal a network of sophisticated Islamic State operatives poised to conduct devastating attacks on the United States and Europe, these threats are meant to instill fear and strike terror into the hearts of one of their intended audiences: the public at large. I say one of their audiences because these threats are not only aimed at the American and European public. They are also meant to send a message to radicalize and energize grassroots jihadists like those who have conducted Islamic State-related attacks in the West.
Examining the Statements
First, it is important to understand the context of the statements made by FBI Director Comey, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Johnson and former CIA Deputy Director Morell.
Comey's statement about not having a complete handle on the grassroots terrorist threat is true. The very nature of such operatives makes them difficult for governments to combat. However, the FBI has been very successful in interdicting grassroots plots in recent months. In fact, I cannot recall so many grassroots operatives being arrested so closely together. However, one of the factors driving Comey's recent remarks is his steadfast belief that technological developments, such as encryption, are creating "dark spaces" that the FBI does not have the ability to investigate. Comey contends that there is no place in the physical world that the FBI cannot get a warrant to search, but technology has permitted criminals and terrorists to create virtual places where the FBI simply cannot penetrate even if they procure the proper search warrants. Comey's recent statement is part of his campaign to convince the public and congress that the FBI needs the ability to investigate those places.
Secretary Johnson's statement about the new jihadist threat is also nothing new. Indeed, I heard him make the same statement last November and took issue with it then. Leaderless resistance, the terrorist operational model that stresses the importance of lone wolf operatives, is simply not a new problem in the United States. It has existed for decades and been actively promoted in the jihadist world since at least 2004.
Michael Morell is on a book tour and attempting to sell as many books as possible. One way to accomplish that is to make eye-popping claims. If the Islamic State had the capability to launch a 9/11-style attack inside the United States, or a similar spectacular terrorist attack, it would have already done so. Instead, the Islamic State has been forced to rely on grassroots operatives to conduct less than spectacular attacks on its behalf. Furthermore, the pre-9/11 paradigm has changed and there is simply no way an airline captain is going to relinquish control of his aircraft to be used as a guided cruise missile — nor would the passengers permit it. Because of this, it is very hard to imagine the Islamic State conducting a 9/11-style attack.
Certainly, the Islamic State is making threats and government officials are concerned, but in practical terms today's jihadist threat is no more severe than it has been in the past several years. Frankly, there has not been a time since 1992 when some jihadist somewhere was not plotting an attack against the United States, and occasionally some of them succeed.
The JV is coming for President Obama
Reply #1558 on:
May 17, 2015, 07:05:35 PM »
I can't say he's implausible , , ,
Reply #1559 on:
May 19, 2015, 08:31:17 AM »
Why "Jade Helm" Operation Is A Problem...
Reply #1560 on:
May 22, 2015, 07:03:30 AM »
The Problem with Jade Helm
Posted By Arnold Ahlert On May 22, 2015 @ frontpagemag.com
Jade Helm 15, a large-scale military operation conducted  by U.S. Army Special Operations Command and service members from the military’s four branches, scheduled to take place in several states  between July 15 and September 15, 2015, has elicited a firestorm of criticism. Many have gone so far as to claim the exercises are a prelude to the imposition  of martial law, especially in Texas, one of the states designated  as “hostile” territory. However, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) puts  the issue in the proper perspective, noting why it’s reasonable that Americans would be concerned about the operation.
Gohmert first reveals his office “has been inundated with calls” regarding the mission, and acknowledges that this “military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law.” “Certainly, I can understand these concerns,” he writes. “When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned.”
Gohmert is spot on. In February, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence assessment focused  on the threat posed by right-wing, sovereign citizen extremist groups. As reported by the Washington Times, some law enforcement officials believe the threat posed by these groups “is equal to, and occasionally greater than, the threat from Islamic extremist groups.”
It’s not the first time DHS has made such a delusional assessment. In 2009 the agency was worried about the possible recruitment of military veterans into such groups, eliciting blowback from rightly offended veterans. Adding to the absurdity (and hypocrisy as well) the February report was released while Obama was conducting  his Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, during which the president took great pains to separate  such extremism from all things Islamic.
That would be the same president who demonstrated no similar reticence whatsoever with regard to Christianity. At the National Prayer Breakfast that same month, Obama was more than willing to remind  Americans “that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” In over six years in office there hasn’t been a single occasion when Obama referred to any of the innumerable depredations committed by Muslim extremists as being perpetrated “in the name of Mohammed.”
Thus, when Gohmert addresses “the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs,” demonstrated by this administration, he correctly asserts “it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.”
The Congressman acknowledges the need for training and that part of it requires Special Forces to move unobserved among civilian populations absent their discovery, as well as the need to handle various threat scenarios. However, like many of his constituents, he is appalled by the idea that portions of the country have been deemed “hostile,” adding that designation has never been employed before. Citing his own experience in military science classes and active duty, Gohmert explained the military would “use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.” Moreover, he can’t help noticing “the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution,” he states sarcastically.
He also believes such labeling raises suspicions among people regarding “whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border,” and that it “is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as hostile, as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them.”
Indeed, the Obama administration has demonstrated an undue level of antipathy towards the Lone Star State on a number of occasions. In 2011, the Department of Justice threatened  a complete suspension of air travel in and out of Texas if the state Senate approved HB 1937 . That bill would have banned “intrusive touching of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation,” aimed at derailing the TSA’s intimate pat-downs absent the probable cause guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment . The bill was ultimately shelved. In August of 2013, the administration sued  the state because it passed a voter ID law. The suit was in complete defiance of a Supreme Court decision the previous June striking down portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts that had required states to “preclear” any changes to their voting laws. And when the border surge of illegals crossing into Texas occurred last year, and then-Gov. Rick Perry sent Texas National Guard troops there to deal with the onslaught, Obama made it clear  he would not take unilateral action to stem the tide.
On April 27, the military sent Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, to Bastrop, TX on April 27 in an effort to address  local concerns. He explained that Jade Helm 15 is a routine, but necessary endeavor, because modern warfare requires soldiers to maneuver through civilian populations rather than fight on a battlefield. He further insisted Texas provided the ideal terrain for such an exercise, and noted that soldiers will wear either uniforms or orange arm bands to show that they are part of it, and there will be no attempt to move through the population undetected.
Newly-elected Texas Governor Greg Abbott nonetheless expressed concerns. He has sent a letter  to Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty, commander of the Texas State Guard, directing the Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15. “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott wrote. “By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communication between my office and commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”
Gohmert has another idea that might assuage a number of concerns. “The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states,” he declared.
While some of the concern over Jade Helm might be misguided, none of it has occurred in a vacuum. It arises from more than six years of an administration that has demonstrated an overt willingness to squander the trust of millions of Americans in pursuit of its agenda—by any means necessary. Americans would much prefer to see the military training to defend the homeland against ISIS rather than engage in insulting exercises against the “hostile” heartland of liberty.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Uh oh , , ,
Reply #1561 on:
June 18, 2015, 12:08:23 AM »
The Other Terror Threat
By CHARLES KURZMAN and DAVID SCHANZERJUNE 16, 2015
THIS month, the headlines were about a Muslim man in Boston who was accused of threatening police officers with a knife. Last month, two Muslims attacked an anti-Islamic conference in Garland, Tex. The month before, a Muslim man was charged with plotting to drive a truck bomb onto a military installation in Kansas. If you keep up with the news, you know that a small but steady stream of American Muslims, radicalized by overseas extremists, are engaging in violence here in the United States.
But headlines can mislead. The main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists, but from right-wing extremists. Just ask the police.
In a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum last year of 382 law enforcement agencies, 74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction; 39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations. And only 3 percent identified the threat from Muslim extremists as severe, compared with 7 percent for anti-government and other forms of extremism.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State’s efforts to radicalize American Muslims, which began just after the survey ended, may have increased threat perceptions somewhat, but not by much, as we found in follow-up interviews over the past year with counterterrorism specialists at 19 law enforcement agencies. These officers, selected from urban and rural areas around the country, said that radicalization from the Middle East was a concern, but not as dangerous as radicalization among right-wing extremists.
An officer from a large metropolitan area said that “militias, neo-Nazis and sovereign citizens” are the biggest threat we face in regard to extremism. One officer explained that he ranked the right-wing threat higher because “it is an emerging threat that we don’t have as good of a grip on, even with our intelligence unit, as we do with the Al Shabab/Al Qaeda issue, which we have been dealing with for some time.” An officer on the West Coast explained that the “sovereign citizen” anti-government threat has “really taken off,” whereas terrorism by American Muslim is something “we just haven’t experienced yet.”
Last year, for example, a man who identified with the sovereign citizen movement — which claims not to recognize the authority of federal or local government — attacked a courthouse in Forsyth County, Ga., firing an assault rifle at police officers and trying to cover his approach with tear gas and smoke grenades. The suspect was killed by the police, who returned fire. In Nevada, anti-government militants reportedly walked up to and shot two police officers at a restaurant, then placed a “Don’t tread on me” flag on their bodies. An anti-government extremist in Pennsylvania was arrested on suspicion of shooting two state troopers, killing one of them, before leading authorities on a 48-day manhunt. A right-wing militant in Texas declared a “revolution” and was arrested on suspicion of attempting to rob an armored car in order to buy weapons and explosives and attack law enforcement. These individuals on the fringes of right-wing politics increasingly worry law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement agencies around the country are training their officers to recognize signs of anti-government extremism and to exercise caution during routine traffic stops, criminal investigations and other interactions with potential extremists. “The threat is real,” says the handout from one training program sponsored by the Department of Justice. Since 2000, the handout notes, 25 law enforcement officers have been killed by right-wing extremists, who share a “fear that government will confiscate firearms” and a “belief in the approaching collapse of government and the economy.”
Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.
In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.
Other data sets, using different definitions of political violence, tell comparable stories. The Global Terrorism Database maintained by the Start Center at the University of Maryland includes 65 attacks in the United States associated with right-wing ideologies and 24 by Muslim extremists since 9/11. The International Security Program at the New America Foundation identifies 39 fatalities from “non-jihadist” homegrown extremists and 26 fatalities from “jihadist” extremists.
Meanwhile, terrorism of all forms has accounted for a tiny proportion of violence in America. There have been more than 215,000 murders in the United States since 9/11. For every person killed by Muslim extremists, there have been 4,300 homicides from other threats.
Public debates on terrorism focus intensely on Muslims. But this focus does not square with the low number of plots in the United States by Muslims, and it does a disservice to a minority group that suffers from increasingly hostile public opinion. As state and local police agencies remind us, right-wing, anti-government extremism is the leading source of ideological violence in America.
Correction: June 17, 2015
An earlier version of this article omitted the given name of a professor at West Point who studies counterterrorism. He is Arie Perliger.
US Terror Threat Now Highest It's Ever Been...
Reply #1562 on:
June 27, 2015, 08:40:12 AM »
Rep. Nunes: America Faces Highest Terror Threat Level Ever
Posted By Michael Cutler On June 25, 2015
Usually the first challenge I face in writing my commentaries is to come up with a concise title that captures the most salient part of the issue I am writing about. Today I found this task easy, I simply borrowed the headline from CBS News’ Face the Nation article that quoted none other than Congressional Representative Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
That headline is concise and echoes the very same concerns I have had in reviewing all of the publicly available information on the issue of threats posed by international terrorists.
What is impossible to understand is how the administration, members of Congress, local and state politicians and journalists have been absolutely unwilling to “connect the impossible to ignore dots” that are flashing, not unlike the strobe lights on a police car or other emergency vehicle.
Here is the segment of the article that accompanied the headline and addressed the topic of the threat of terrorism in the United States today:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, said the nation faces “the highest threat level we have ever faced in this country” due to the flow of foreign fighters to and from Iraq and Syria and the radicalization of young people on the Internet.
U.S. officials have been warning for months about the threat posed by people from America or Western Europe who travel to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS ) and then return to their home countries, where they may carry out attacks. Nunes said the U.S. is not aware of all the people who have made the trek or who have now come back, although FBI Director James Comey has said there are cases open in all 50 states.
Officials are increasingly looking for ways to combat radical jihadists’ effectiveness  in recruiting supporters through social media.
“They’re very good at communicating through separate avenues where it’s very difficult to track,” he said. “That’s why when you get a young person who is willing to get into these chat rooms, go on the Internet and get radicalized, it’s something we are not only unprepared [for], we are also not used to it in this country.”
He said that investigations often “do no good” in encrypted chat rooms where those communications take place, so Americans should be diligent about reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities because “we are having a tough time tracking terrorist cells within the United States.”
The warnings are particularly pertinent with the July 4 holiday approaching. Nunes noted that there will be large gatherings in every city across America.
“It’s just tough to secure those types of areas if you have someone who wants to blow themselves up or open fire or other threats of that nature and we just don’t know or can track all of the bad guys that are out there today,” he said.
The famed playwright, George Bernard Shaw’s statement says it all:
“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
If our leaders were to seek to learn history’s lessons they should read the appropriate history books.
The 9/11 Commission Report  and the “9/11 and Terrorist Travel  – Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” are the most complete and authoritative “history books” concerning the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and even included evaluations of vulnerabilities that led to previous terror attacks — both those that succeeded and those that failed. These books were prepared by the government of the United States in response to the horrific terror attacks that left more than 3,000 innocent victims dead.
My May 22, 2015 commentary for the Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) website, “Bin Laden, The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration ,” addressed the fact that when the U.S. Navy SEALS raided the bin Laden compound, among the documents found in his library were a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report and a copy of an application for United States citizenship. It must be presumed that he had no intentions of filing for U.S. citizenship himself, but was contemplating embedding his terrorist operatives in the United States through the naturalization process.
Presumably bin Laden read that report — the obvious question that has no obvious answer, is “how many member of the administration, Congress, political leaders in states and cities around the United States and journalists who are quick to chime in with their proclamations about how to ‘fix’ the ‘broken’ immigration system have actually read those reports?”
The damage inflicted on the United States and indeed the world by those attacks, has been inestimable and it continues to reverberate in so many ways. These reports both addressed the issue of the ways in which the 9/11 terrorists were able to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States. The latter of those two reports (the Staff Report) obviously focused the ways that the terrorists were able to travel around the world as they went about their deadly preparation and on flaws and vulnerabilities in the immigration system that failed to prevent the entry and subsequent embedding of not only the 19 hijackers, but other terrorists who were identified as operating in the United States in the decade leading up to the attacks of 9/11.
In point of fact, the investigation upon which these reports were based determined that the ability of the terrorists to travel around the world and cross international borders, especially the borders of the United States, were essential to the ability of the terrorists to carry out those deadly attacks.
The preface of the report begins with the following three paragraphs and makes it clear that this report sought information from as many credible sources as possible:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
Congress gave the Commission the mandate to study, evaluate, and report on “immigration, nonimmigrant visas and border security” as these areas relate to the events of 9/11. This staff report represents 14 months of such research. It is based on thousands of pages of documents we reviewed from the State Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, approximately 25 briefings on various border security topics, and more than 200 interviews. We are grateful to all who assisted and supported us along the way.
The story begins with “A Factual Overview of the September 11 Border Story.” This introduction summarizes many of the key facts of the hijackers’ entry into the United States. In it, we endeavor to dispel the myth that their entry into the United States was “clean and legal.” It was not. Three hijackers carried passports with indicators of Islamic extremism linked to al Qaeda; two others carried passports manipulated in a fraudulent manner. It is likely that several more hijackers carried passports with similar fraudulent manipulation. Two hijackers lied on their visa applications. Once in the United States, two hijackers violated the terms of their visas. One overstayed his visa. And all but one obtained some form of state identification. We know that six of the hijackers used these state issued identifications to check in for their flights on September 11. Three of them were fraudulently obtained.
Page 46 and 47 of this report noted:
By analyzing information available at the time, we identified numerous entry and embedding tactics associated with these earlier attacks in the United States.
The World Trade Center Bombing, February 1993. Three terrorists who were involved with the first World Trade Center bombing reportedly traveled on Saudi passports containing an indicator of possible terrorist affiliation. Three of the 9/11 hijackers also had passports containing this same possible indicator of terrorist affiliation.5
In addition, Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the attack, and Ahmad Ajaj, who was able to direct aspects of the attack despite being in prison for using an altered passport, traveled under aliases using fraudulent documents. The two of them were found to possess five passports as well as numerous documents supporting their aliases: a Saudi passport showing signs of alteration, an Iraqi passport bought from a Pakistani official, a photo-substituted Swedish passport, a photo-substituted British passport, a Jordanian passport, identification cards, bank records, education records, and medical records.6
“Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.” Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.
Page 61 contained this passage:
Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists
In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.149 Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups.150 With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the “credentials” necessary to aid terrorist travel.
This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
Both reports made it abundantly clear that had our immigration system worked, the attacks could not have been carried out.
Engineers use the term “root cause” to describe a fundamental failure from which all else that went wrong happened. For example, if a car’s brakes fail and the car hits a tree, the fact that the airbags failed to deploy is important, but the point is that the crash would not have happened in the first place if the brakes had worked.
Similarly, the terror attacks that have been carried out in the United States all resulted by the “root cause” of failures of the immigration system to prevent the terrorists from entering the United States in the first place.
The next failure of the immigration system occurred when terrorists were able to embed themselves in the United States. In this regard two factors came into play.
1. Terrorists who violated their immigration status were not apprehended even when they interacted with local police, leaving them free to remain at large.
2. Terrorists were able to acquire many identity documents — some actually issued by state governments — in false names, concealing their identities and movements.
Today most politicians have accepted the deceptive language first implemented by Carter administration when the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) mandated that its employees refer to aliens illegally present in the United States as being “undocumented immigrants,” an obfuscating and purposefully innocuous sounding term.
This was obviously done to create the misimpression that these individuals were simply immigrants who needed a piece of paper. Therefore the only thing we needed to do was give them the bureaucratic equivalent of a “hall pass” to make things okay.
The truth could not be more different from this lie that was and continues to be foisted on Americans by our own government. Aliens who evade the inspections process conducted at ports of entry should be referred to by the term that immigration enforcement personnel use, “EWI (Entry Without Inspection). This is the equivalent of trespassing or “breaking and entering.”
Such aliens are unscreened. We have no record of their entry and they may well be fugitives from justice in other countries, may have links to criminal or terrorist organizations.
The 9/11 Commission Report  addressed the importance of the immigration inspections process conducted at ports of entry noting:
Inspectors at the ports of entry were not asked to focus on terrorists. Inspectors told us they were not even aware that when they checked the names of incoming passengers against the automated watchlist, they were checking in part for terrorists. In general, border inspectors also did not have the information they needed to make fact-based determinations of admissibility.The INS initiated but failed to bring to completion two efforts that would have provided inspectors with information relevant to counterterrorism—a proposed system to track foreign student visa compliance and a program to establish a way of tracking travelers’ entry to and exit from the United States.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel  detailed numerous examples of instances where terrorists made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud, including political asylum fraud, to enter and embed themselves in the United States.
Page 54 contained this excerpt under the title “3.2 Terrorist Travel Tactics by Plot.”
Here is an excerpt from that report that makes the above issues crystal clear:
Although there is evidence that some land and sea border entries (of terrorists) without inspection occurred, these conspirators mainly subverted the legal entry system by entering at airports.
In doing so, they relied on a wide variety of fraudulent documents, on aliases, and on government corruption. Because terrorist operations were not suicide missions in the early to mid-1990s, once in the United States terrorists and their supporters tried to get legal immigration status that would permit them to remain here, primarily by committing serial, or repeated, immigration fraud, by claiming political asylum, and by marrying Americans. Many of these tactics would remain largely unchanged and undetected throughout the 1990s and up to the 9/11 attack.
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.
Meanwhile there are mayors of some cities and even governors of some states that have created “sanctuaries” for aliens who evaded the inspections process at ports of entry that represent both our first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists, transnational criminals and others whose presence in the United States poses a threat to national security and the safety and well-being of Americans — and even members of the ethnic immigrant communities of which they are a part, irrespective of what their native countries might be. These politicians are even providing driver’s licenses and municipal identification documents, ignoring the fact that criminals and terrorists use changes in identity the way that chameleons use changes in coloration to hide in plain sight, often among their intended victims.
How can our nation’s leaders be so blind or corrupt as to ignore what should be commonsense issues that were clearly identified in the 9/11 Commission Report and the companion report I have noted above?
On July 27, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic: Whether the Attempted Implementation of the Reid-Kennedy Immigration Bill Will Result in an Administrative and National Security Nightmare. 
At that hearing I noted  that advocates for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens should get the “MVP Award” from al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations. That statement applies today more than ever before.
"You have enemies? Good. That means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill.
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1563 on:
July 09, 2015, 06:05:04 PM »
Pentagon prepares for mass civil breakdown
Reply #1564 on:
July 11, 2015, 05:00:41 PM »
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1565 on:
July 15, 2015, 08:05:09 PM »
Quote from: bigdog on October 20, 2013, 03:43:54 PM
1. He is not unqualified.
2. His military experience is leading large portions of it.
3. Relevant work experience includes serving as AF General Counsel, DoD General Counsel, where he led 10,000 employees, and where he was instrumental in forming and articulating the nation's drone policy.
4. You not liking him does not make him inexperienced.
5. And you not liking attorneys does not make his nomination sound.
Re: Homeland Security Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson is loyal to the...
Reply #1566 on:
July 15, 2015, 08:13:57 PM »
Quote from: G M on October 21, 2013, 07:13:44 PM
Homeland Security Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson is loyal to the
I mean Obama
4:22 PM 10/18/2013
Here’s the guy Obama is expected to nominate to replace Janet Napolitano. He’s talking about being in NYC on 9/11:
“When that bright and beautiful day, a day something like this, was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history, I wandered the streets of New York that day and wonderered, and asked, ‘What can I do?’ Since then, I have tried to devote myself to answering that question. I love this country. I care about the safety of our people. I believe in public service. And I remain loyal to you, Mr. President.”
He remains loyal to Barack Obama? What happened to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and bearing true faith and allegiance to the same? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go?
Or did that dusty old piece of parchment get snubbed on purpose? Obama certainly doesn’t have much use for it when it interferes with his whims.
Gather ’round, kids. We’ve made a few changes:
“I pledge allegiance to Barack, not the United States of America, and to the repugnance for which he stands, one narcissist, his own god, insufferable, with little but injustice for all.”
Welcome to Utopia. Ain’t it grand?
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1567 on:
July 16, 2015, 03:46:25 PM »
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1568 on:
July 16, 2015, 06:22:57 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on July 16, 2015, 03:46:25 PM
Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Reply #1569 on:
July 17, 2015, 05:44:33 AM »
Reply #1570 on:
July 19, 2015, 01:38:45 AM »
Rand Paul calls for restricting Muslim immigration
Reply #1571 on:
July 19, 2015, 02:19:09 AM »
Reply #1572 on:
July 21, 2015, 01:18:20 PM »
Reply #1573 on:
July 21, 2015, 08:07:15 PM »
I am sure the qualified Jeh Johnson will get right on this!
Gen. Wesley Clark calls for internment camps for radiclalized Muslims here in US
Reply #1574 on:
July 21, 2015, 09:13:24 PM »
Marine Recruiters told to not wear uniforms.
Reply #1575 on:
July 23, 2015, 12:26:19 PM »
Stratfor: Danger from Cuban Embassy
Reply #1576 on:
July 24, 2015, 07:01:50 AM »
By Fred Burton
Editor's Note: The following piece is part of an occasional series in which Fred Burton, our vice president of intelligence, reflects on his storied experience as a counterterrorism agent for the U.S. State Department.
After decades of hostility, the United States and Cuba finally seem to be reconciling. On July 1, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Washington will reopen its embassy in Havana. For the first time since 1961, when the two countries severed ties, U.S. diplomats and staff will fill the embassy and the surrounding city streets, as will a U.S. Marine detachment working security detail.
But even as the embassy in Havana now stands as a monument to improved U.S.-Cuban relations, it will make the United States much more vulnerable to monitoring and infiltration by Cuban intelligence agencies. And today foreign spies pose as real and immediate a threat to U.S. interests as they did during the Cold War.
A History of Espionage
In the 1970s and 1980s, counterterrorism agents like myself witnessed the United States gear its entire national security apparatus toward countering Soviet influence. Looking back, I believe our fixation on the Soviet Union actually caused us to underestimate other countries' agencies. We believed Cuba's Directorate of Intelligence, trained by Moscow though it may have been, was significantly less effective than Russia's KGB.
Indeed, our preoccupation with the Soviet Union blinded us to the fact that Cuba quietly operated assets inside the United States. Among the many spies they recruited were Kendall Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers. When the Cubans first recruited the Myerses in 1979, Kendall Myers was a part-time instructor at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute, where U.S. diplomats and other professionals train before they receive their overseas assignments. He later became a senior analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). From my own time in the intelligence business, I know that INR analysts have access to highly classified information from virtually every government agency — and since Myers was working for Havana, so, too, did Cuban intelligence.
The Myerses were finally discovered and put on trial in 2006. But as we would learn four years after the trial, the Cubans had someone with even more insight into the United States' national security apparatus: Ana Montes, a double agent who worked as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Cuban intelligence turned her in 1985, and she passed classified information to Havana for years thereafter.
In the 1980s, when Montes was spying for Cuba, I worked in the burgeoning counterterrorism arm of the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. I was far more concerned with Libya and Iran than with Cuba, since so many of my cases involved Soviet actors and KGB agents. Like the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, I saw the Soviet Union as the primary threat. But all along, despite all our efforts to defend U.S. intelligence and assets, our national security agencies were being repeatedly infiltrated by Cuban intelligence.
Now, with the U.S. Embassy opening in Havana, Cuba will monitor and attempt to recruit U.S. employees as actively as it did during the Cold War. Cuban intelligence will build case files on every American official who travels in country. It will surveil diplomatic staffers as it looks for potential recruits and as it tries to identify U.S. agents.
Cuban intelligence will do so using techniques new and old alike. In the past, the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence employed tactics it learned from the Soviet KGB to collect information and communicate with its operatives. Spies such as Myers and Montes received encrypted radio messages from their Cuban handlers and passed information using dead drops, in which agents leave information at a secret location, and brush passes, in which they physically hand over material in a brief encounter.
Havana will also likely plant listening devices in hotel rooms, taxis and rental cars to monitor on the U.S. diplomatic mission. Operatives will take photographs of the embassy staff as they come and go, locate employees' homes and even plan honeypots and male raven operations, during which an undercover agent acts like a love interest to collect intelligence. In short, with a reopening embassy, the Cubans will have ample opportunity to undermine U.S. national security.
U.S. intelligence agencies are well aware of the Cuban threat. As the embassy opens in Havana, CIA and FBI agents will constantly be briefing State Department staff on situational awareness and counterintelligence. Those who are unaware of long history of espionage may call the countless warnings excessive and deem Washington's intelligence community over-cautious. But the threat is real, regardless of whether embassy workers heed the warnings. As those in the intelligence business often say, the Cold War, in a sense, never really ended. Foreign policy can change at a moment's notice. Strategic alliances never mean absolute trust. And in a world full of hidden threats, there is no such thing as a friendly intelligence service.
Sabotage and Attacks on Fiber Networks
Reply #1577 on:
August 13, 2015, 11:28:36 AM »
Very long POTH piece on Jihadi Girl Power
Reply #1578 on:
August 17, 2015, 09:16:53 AM »
Jihad and Girl Power: How ISIS Lured 3 London Teenagers
By KATRIN BENNHOLDAUG. 17, 2015
Continue reading the main story Video
At Home in London, Girls Chose ISIS
A look into the world of three teenage girls who abandoned their lives in London to join the Islamic State.
By MONA EL-NAGGAR and BEN LAFFIN on Publish Date August 17, 2015. Watch in Times Video »
LONDON — The night before Khadiza Sultana left for Syria she was dancing in her teenage bedroom. It was a Monday during the February school vacation. Her niece and close friend, at 13 only three years younger than Khadiza, had come for a sleepover. The two girls wore matching pajamas and giggled as they gyrated in unison to the beat.
Khadiza offered her niece her room that night and shared a bed with her mother. She was a devoted daughter, particularly since her father had died.
The scene in her bedroom, saved on the niece’s cellphone on Feb. 16 and replayed dozens of times by Khadiza’s relatives since, shows the girl they thought they knew: joyful, sociable, funny and kind.
As it turned out, it was also the carefully choreographed goodbye of a determined and exceptionally bright teenager who had spent months methodically planning to leave her childhood home in Bethnal Green, East London, with two schoolmates and follow the path of another friend who had already traveled to the territory controlled by the Islamic State.
On Tuesday morning, Khadiza got up early and put on the Lacoste perfume both she and her niece liked. She told her mother that she was going to school to pick up some workbooks and spend the day in the library. She grabbed a small day pack and promised to return by 4:30 p.m.
It was only that night that the family realized something was wrong. When Khadiza had not come back by 5:30, her mother asked her oldest sister, Halima Khanom, to message her, but there was no reply. Ms. Khanom drove to the library to look for her sister, but she was not there. She went to the school, but the staff said no student had come in that day.
By the time she came back home, her mother had checked Khadiza’s wardrobe and found that besides some strategically arranged items it was empty. “That’s when I started panicking,” Ms. Khanom, 32, said in a recent interview at the family home. Two tote bags were missing from the house. “She must have taken her things gradually and packed a suitcase somewhere else.”
Early the next morning her family reported Khadiza missing. An hour later, three officers from SO15, the counterterrorism squad of the Metropolitan Police, knocked on the door. “We believe your daughter has traveled to Turkey with two of her friends,” one said.
Even then, Ms. Khanom said, recalling the conversation, “Syria didn’t come into my mind.”
The next time she saw her sister was on the news: Grainy security camera footage showed Khadiza and her two 15-year-old friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, calmly passing through security at Gatwick Airport for Turkish Airlines Flight 1966 to Istanbul and later boarding a bus to the Syrian border.
“Only when I saw that video I understood,” Ms. Khanom said.
These images turned the three Bethnal Green girls, as they have become known, into the face of a new, troubling phenomenon: young women attracted to what some experts are calling a jihadi, girl-power subculture. An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.
The men tend to become fighters much like previous generations of jihadists seeking out battlefields in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But less is known about the Western women of the Islamic State. Barred from combat, they support the group’s state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes online cheerleaders of violence.
Many are single and young, typically in their teens or early 20s (the youngest known was 13). Their profiles differ in terms of socioeconomic background, ethnicity and nationality, but often they are more educated and studious than their male counterparts. Security officials now say they may present as much of a threat to the West as the men: Less likely to be killed and more likely to lose a spouse in combat, they may try to return home, indoctrinated and embittered.
One in four of the women in the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s database are already widowed. But if women are a strategic asset for the Islamic State, they are hardly ever considered in most aspects of Western counterterrorism.
The Bethnal Green girls, slender teenagers with ready smiles and London accents, were praised by teachers and admired by fellow students at Bethnal Green Academy.
Khadiza, with straight chocolate-colored hair and thick-rimmed glasses, had been singled out as one of the most promising students in her year, according to a letter her mother received after mock exams only weeks before she left. In her bedroom, she kept a copy of a novel that a teacher had given to her with a handwritten dedication inside, dated January 2015: “Well done for working hard and exceeding your target grade for English language.” In her spare time she tutored less gifted peers.
Her bubbly friend Amira was a star athlete and a respected public speaker, once debating the rights of Muslim women to wear the veil. She was a regular at the local library, where she read voraciously. (After her disappearance, when the police went to check the list of books she had borrowed, one title, “Insurgent,” briefly rang alarm bells — until the officer realized that it was part of a popular dystopian teenage trilogy set in Chicago.)
“They were the girls you wanted to be like,” said one 14-year-old from the grade below.
Perhaps that is why everyone failed to respond to the many signs that foreshadowed their dark turn. The families, who noticed the girls’ behavior changing, attributed it to teenage whims; school staff members, who saw their homework deteriorate, failed to inform the parents or intervene; the police, who spoke to the girls twice about their friend who had traveled to Syria, also never notified the parents.
They were smart, popular girls from a world in which teenage rebellion is expressed through a radical religiosity that questions everything around them. In this world, the counterculture is conservative. Islam is punk rock. The head scarf is liberating. Beards are sexy.
Ask young Muslim women in their neighborhood what kind of guys are popular at school these days and they start raving about “the brothers who pray.”
“Girls used to want someone who is good-looking; nowadays girls want Muslims who are practicing,” said Zahra Qadir, 22, who does deradicalization work for the Active Change Foundation, her father’s charity in East London. “It’s a new thing over the last couple of years. A lot of girls want that, even some nonpracticing girls.”
The rows of housing complexes behind Bethnal Green’s main street are home to a deeply conservative Muslim community where the lines between religion and extremism can be blurred, including in at least one of the girls’ families. In this community, the everyday challenges that girls face look very different from those of their male counterparts.
The Islamic State is making a determined play for these girls, tailoring its siren calls to their vulnerabilities, frustrations and dreams, and filling a void the West has so far failed to address.
In post-9/11 austerity Britain, a time when a deep crisis of identity and values has swept the country, fitting in can be harder for Muslim girls than for boys. Buffeted by a growing hostility toward Islam and deep spending cuts that have affected women and young people in working-class communities like their own, they have come to resent the Western freedoms and opportunities their parents sought out. They see Western fashions sexualizing girls from an early age, while Western feminists look at the hijab as a symbol of oppression.
Asked by their families during sporadic phone calls and exchanges on social media platforms why they had run away, the girls spoke of leaving behind an immoral society to search for religious virtue and meaning. In one Twitter message, nine days before they left Britain, Amira wrote: “I feel like I don’t belong in this era.”
Muslim girls generally outperform the boys in school but are kept on a shorter leash at home. Many, like Khadiza, have sisters whose marriages were arranged when they were teenagers. Ms. Khanom, now 32, was 17 when she was wed, just a year older than Khadiza. And they wear head scarves, which identify them as Muslims in often-hostile streets.
In their world, going to Syria and joining the so-called caliphate is a way of “taking control of your destiny,” said Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer who represents the families of the three girls.
“It’s about choice — the most human thing,” Mr. Akunjee said. “These girls are smart, they are A students. When you are smarter than everyone else, you think you can do anything.”
Since they left their homes, bits and pieces have emerged about the three friends revealing a blend of youthful naïveté and determination.
Khadiza’s friend Amira, an acquaintance of the family said, “fell in love with the idea of falling in love.” At one point, she posted the image of a Muslim couple with the caption: “And he created you in pairs.”
Khadiza, by contrast, told her sister in one of the first Instagram conversations after her arrival in Syria: “I’m not here just to get married.”
The Islamic State has proved adept at appealing to different female profiles, using girl-to-girl recruitment strategies, gendered imagery and iconic memes.
As Muslims, the girls would be treated very differently from women and girls of the Yazidi minority, who are taken by the Islamic State as slaves and raped with the justification that they are unbelievers.
The group runs a “marriage bureau” for single Western women. This year, the media wing of Al Khanssaa Brigade, an all-female morality militia, published a manifesto stipulating that women complete their formal education at age 15 and that they can be married as young as 9, but also praising their existence in the Islamic State as “hallowed.”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State, took a young German woman of Iraqi descent as his third wife and put her in charge of women’s issues in the caliphate, according to information circulating among Islamic State-affiliated social media accounts.
Social media has allowed the group’s followers to directly target young women, reaching them in the privacy of their bedrooms with propaganda that borrows from Western pop culture — images of jihadists in the sunset and messages of empowerment. A recent post linked to an Islamic State account paraphrased a popular L’Oréal makeup ad next to the image of a girl in a head scarf: “COVERed GIRL. Because I’m worth it.”
“It’s a twisted version of feminism,” said Sasha Havlicek, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, who testified about Western women under the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on July 29.
“For the girls, joining ISIS is a way to emancipate yourself from your parents and from the Western society that has let you down,” Ms. Havlicek said. “For ISIS, it’s great for troop morale because fighters want Western wives. And in the battle of ideas they can point to these girls and say: Look, they are choosing the caliphate over the West.”
In January 2014, one of Khadiza’s best friends, Sharmeena Begum, no relation to Shamima, lost her mother to cancer. Her father soon started courting a woman who would become his second wife.
An only child, Sharmeena was deeply shaken. Until then, she had not been very religious, friends say. “She was barely practicing before,” according to one acquaintance of the family. After her mother died, she started praying regularly and spending more time at the mosque.
But there were signs she was not just turning toward religion for comfort. Bethnal Green Academy is a state-funded secondary school with just over 900 students, the majority of them Muslim. At one point last year, Sharmeena had a heated exchange with a teacher, defending the Islamic State. The teacher, also a Muslim, disagreed, and Sharmeena “flipped out,” a witness said.
Her closest friends started changing, too.
Khadiza stopped wearing trousers and began covering her hair after the summer vacation, at first only in school but gradually at home as well. It was a big change for a girl who “loved” her hair and styled the women in her family on festive occasions.
One day last fall, she asked her older brother Shuyab Alom, a science student who sometimes helped her with homework, what his thoughts were on Syria.
“She asked a very general question as to what I thought about what’s happening over there,” Mr. Alom recalled. “And I said how it was, the fact that it seems that the Syrian regime, you know, the majority of the people oppose the regime.”
Around the same time other friends at school noticed the girls’ lunchtime conversations changing. One friend, whose passport has since been seized because it was feared that she, too, might go to Syria (she denies this), reported a “noticeable” change in attitude.
When Sharmeena’s father remarried in the fall, Khadiza accompanied her to the wedding. Soon after, on Saturday, Dec. 6, Sharmeena disappeared.
“She was vulnerable; she had a trauma,” said Mr. Akunjee, the lawyer, who does not represent Sharmeena’s family but is familiar with her case. “She didn’t get a body piercing or a drug-dealer boyfriend. She went to ISIS.”
Khadiza did not tell her family that Sharmeena had run away. When a school staff member called to inform the family that Khadiza’s friend had “gone missing,” the official did not specify that she was believed to have traveled to Syria, Ms. Khanom, Khadiza’s sister, recalled.
Her mother asked Khadiza regularly whether she had news of her friend. “And she’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t know, I don’t know,’” Ms. Khanom said. “And I thought that was weird.”
Sharmeena’s father, Mohammad Uddin, said he had been surprised that the other girls had not left with his daughter. He told The Daily Mail that he had urged the police and the school to keep a close eye on them, though the police say the formal statement Mr. Uddin gave to them on Feb. 10 — a week before the three girls left — contained no such warning.
At the time, one police officer was charged with getting in touch with the girls, but they were “uncooperative” and did not return his calls and messages. He asked the school to set up meetings with them and four other friends. Two meetings took place, one in the presence of the deputy principal and one with a teacher. But even then, Ms. Khanom said, neither the school nor the police told the families exactly what was going on.
Asked about failing to spot the signs of the girls’ radicalization, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police maintained that there had been no indication during the interviews that any of the girls “were in any way vulnerable or indeed radicalized.”
“There was no indication that any of the girls were at risk of traveling to Syria,” the spokesman said.
On Feb. 5, officers gave letters to the girls, seeking their parents’ permission to take formal statements from them about Sharmeena’s disappearance. But the girls never passed the letters on. Khadiza’s was discovered by her sister hidden in textbooks in her bedroom after they had left.
Ms. Khanom was furious. “I saw the guy who gave her the letter. He said the 15-year-olds were giving him a runaround. And I’m like, ‘You’re supposed to be someone who’s trained in counterterrorism, you know. We don’t understand about 15-year-olds giving you a runaround. How does that work?’”
Eventually, the police issued an apology. The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said he was sorry that the letters had never reached the parents. A spokesman added: “With the benefit of hindsight, we acknowledge that the letters could have been delivered direct to the parents.”
As the police and the school were keeping Sharmeena’s suspected travel to Syria quiet, Khadiza and her friends began planning to follow in her footsteps.
A Girls’ Pact and Missed Signs
In messy handwriting on a page ripped out of a calendar, the girls made a detailed checklist for their trip: bras, a cellphone, an epilator, makeup and warm clothes, among other things. Next to each item, they noted cost, including just over 1,000 pounds for tickets to Turkey.
Discovered at the bottom of one of the girls’ closets after their departure, the list also appears to contain the handwriting of a fourth girl who had apparently planned to travel but dropped out when her father suffered a stroke. Since then, a judge has confiscated the passports belonging to her, three other students at Bethnal Green Academy and a fifth girl from the neighborhood.
Like other teenagers, the girls were sensitive to peer pressure. They were what Shiraz Maher, a senior fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, called a textbook “cluster,” making the multiple oversights by the school and the police even more surprising.
If one member of a group of friends has gone to Syria, Mr. Maher said, that is a far more reliable predictor of the friends being at risk of going than variables like class or ethnicity. In clusters like the Bethnal Green group, doubts are drowned out and views quickly reinforced.
Mr. Akunjee, the lawyer, said, “From December it is pretty clear that there is a pact between the girls.”
Planning their trip appears to have occupied much of their time. Their homework, diligently completed before Sharmeena’s departure, came back incomplete in the weeks after.
“I’m amazed that the teachers and police missed that,” said Mr. Akunjee, who reviewed the homework. “These are bright girls. Well above average clever. This was a year with exams coming up. Shouldn’t the school have informed the parents?” It is a question the police are asking the school, too.
Khadiza and her friend Amira exchanged many messages on social media. In one post, Amira described the two of them as “twins.” In a Twitter message dated Dec. 20, she posted a hadith on being in a group of three friends: “If you are three (in number), then let not two engage in private, excluding the third.”
Was Amira worried about her two friends speaking without her and questioning their pact to go to Syria? She was perhaps the most active of the three friends on social media, providing glimpses of the gradual radicalization the group underwent.
In her posts, under the name Umm Uthman Britaniya, typical teenage commentary about fashion, school and her favorite soccer club (Chelsea) increasingly mixed with posts inquiring about how to learn Arabic quickly and what behavior is Islamic and what is not.
“Are nose piercings Haram or not?” one of her posts asked on Dec. 30, meaning were they forbidden under Islam. “Connnfuuuusseedddd.” Two weeks later she wrote: “The Prophet (PBUH) cursed those who pluck their eyebrows.”
But far from portraying an increasingly submissive girl, Amira’s Twitter messages featured punchy fist emoticons and empowered language: “Our abaya game” she wrote under a photo of four girls proudly clad in Muslim garb, is “strong.” In January, she wrote about rape: “Hearing these stories of sisters being raped makes me so close to being allergic to men, Wallah.”
Around the same time, Khadiza’s family noticed that she became “more quiet.”
“She spent a lot of time on her iPod,” her sister, Ms. Khanom, recalled. The iPod had been the subject of a dispute between Khadiza and her mother a year earlier. Khadiza had asked for one, but her mother had said no. It took Ms. Khanom to lobby on her behalf.
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On her iPod she received a steady stream of images depicting atrocities against Muslim children, from Syria to Myanmar. Her friend Amira posted and reposted several. One of her posts, a photo of a 3-year-old boy, had the caption: “This always gets to me.”
“Almost every day, I go on Facebook and I’m shown a horrible post somewhere,” Khadiza’s brother, Mr. Alom, said. “Online you have whole pages and groups and accounts dedicated to these sort of things, where they post pictures, they post videos.”
A lot of young Muslims, he said, feel that “Islamophobia is a very prevalent thing.”
“And then a group comes to them and says, like, ‘This is where you come,’ this is where they will be complete. ‘It’s a home for you.’ That appeals to them.”
“Yeah, that’s the main thing,” he continued, “because a lot of people feel that they are out of place to where they are.”
Bethnal Green is only one subway stop from the moneyed towers of the City of London and stretches into the capital’s trendy start-up district. Bearded hipsters are a common sight among the bustling market stalls selling everything from saris to spices.
But four in 10 residents, including Khadiza’s and Shamima’s families, have roots in Bangladesh. (Amira was born in Ethiopia and spent her early childhood in Germany before moving here when she was 11.) A literalist interpretation of Islam promoted by Saudi Arabia has become more mainstream and has combined with a widely shared sense that Muslims across the world suffer injustices in which the West is complicit.
After the girls vanished, it emerged that Amira’s father, Hussen Abase, had been filmed attending an Islamist rally in 2012 organized by a notorious hate preacher, Anjem Choudary, and also attended by Michael Adebowale, one of the two men who hacked a British soldier to death on a London Street in 2013. In the video Mr. Abase, who in March appeared on British television sobbing and cradling his daughter’s teddy bear and begging her to come home, can be seen chanting “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) as an American flag was burned nearby.
He occasionally took Amira to marches, too. Among the people she followed on Twitter was Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, who has close links to Mr. Choudary. Both men were charged this month with supporting the Islamic State. Mr. Abase did not respond to an interview request.
“Some parents create the atmosphere for their children,” said Haras Rafiq, the managing director of the Quilliam Foundation, an anti-extremism research center.
As Amira became more vocal on Twitter, Khadiza became more argumentative at home, on occasion scolding her older siblings for acting “un-Islamic” or pressing her niece to disobey her mother.
The last time Ms. Khanom saw her sister was five days before she left. Her cousin Fahmida Abdul Aziz had come over, too. “We were fighting over a bag of Bombay mix,” Ms. Khanom said, referring to a traditional Indian snack. “She loves that. I guess she gets that off my dad, because my dad used to love it, too.”
They were sitting on the living room sofa. “She was in her PJs, you know like a T-shirt and a pajama bottom, and she just literally came, sat herself between the two of us and put her arms around us,” the cousin, Ms. Aziz said, smiling at the memory. “You know, just looked at me and just gave me a cuddle.”
The next day, Khadiza asked that her niece come to stay, but Ms. Khanom, the niece’s mother, said no because it was a school night. Uncharacteristically, she said, Khadiza texted her niece, urging her to disobey: “Just jump on the bus and come.”
That same week, Amira implored her Twitter followers in capital letters: “PRAY ALLAH GRANTS ME THE HIGHEST RANKS IN JANNAH, MAKES ME SINCERE IN MY WORSHIP AND KEEPS ME STEADFAST.” She posted a photo of three girls in black head scarves and abayas in a local park with their backs to the camera, presumably her and her two friends. “Sisters,” the caption reads.
Call Home, Girls
On Feb. 15, just two days before the three girls left, Shamima sent a Twitter message to a prominent Islamic State recruiter from Glasgow, Aqsa Mahmood. The youngest of the three, Shamima is also the most elusive. Little is known about her apart from the fact that she loved to watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and traveled to Turkey on the passport of her 17-year-old sister, Aklima.
Ms. Mahmood, who goes by the name of Umm Layth (meaning Mother of the Lion) and provides advice on social media to would-be female migrants, has denied recruiting the girls. But her parents’ lawyer expressed surprise that the security services, believed to be monitoring Ms. Mahmood’s social media accounts, had not reacted to Shamima’s approach.
Khadiza’s family members say it is unlikely that the girls could have raised an estimated 3,000 pounds, or about $4,700, to cover the cost of their trip on their own. The plane tickets alone, police confirmed, cost more than 1,000 pounds and were paid for in cash at a local travel agency.
Unlike their friend who left earlier, Sharmeena, who had an inheritance from her mother, the three girls had no known source of money, raising questions about whether they were recruited and had outside help.
A suggestion by the counterterrorism chief of the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley, that the girls might have stolen from the families did not go down well: “I felt like punching them; that was a blatant lie,” Khadiza’s sister said.
“Khadiza took some of her jewelry but nothing expensive,” Ms. Khanom said. She left behind the most precious item she owned, a Swarovski necklace she had gotten for her most recent birthday. She did not touch the money in her sister’s bag in the hallway that morning and took nothing from her mother’s kitty.
“Nothing was missing,” Ms. Khanom said.
The police are still trying to establish whether the girls had help online or from a local recruiter. The trouble, investigators say, is that traveling to a conflict zone is not a crime in Britain, and neither is encouraging or facilitating travel to a conflict zone, unless a terrorist purpose can be proven.
“If a local facilitator is identified, a likelier ground for prosecution might be child abduction,” a senior officer said.
The families’ lawyer is convinced the girls tapped into a shadowy recruitment network embedded in and protected by the community in East London and were then handled “point to point.”
In shaky footage, apparently filmed on a hidden camera near the Syrian border and broadcast on A Haber, a Turkish television network, the girls are seen alongside a man in a maroon hooded sweatshirt. Another man, bearded and bespectacled, is taking bags out of the trunk of one car and helping to load them into another.
“This car,” he seems to tell them in heavily accented English, then apparently directs them to take passports allowing them into Syria.
The girls, who arrived in Turkey on a Tuesday night and were reported missing by early Wednesday, waited 18 hours at a bus station in an Istanbul suburb and crossed into Syria only on Friday. Both the British and the Turkish police have faced accusations of reacting too slowly.
Eventually, the Turkish police arrested a man on allegations that he had helped the teenagers cross the border. The Turkish news agency Dogan said the man had helped several other Britons cross into Syria for a fee between $800 and $1,500.
“This is not a package holiday,” Mr. Akunjee said. “It is a complicated journey.”
He knows this firsthand. One of the first things he did after the families hired him was to travel with relatives of all three girls to Turkey and make a public appeal to the girls to get in touch. The campaign, publicized with the hashtag #callhomegirls, was widely covered in the British press.
“Even I needed fixers to help me set it all up,” said Mr. Akunjee, who knows Turkey well. (He recently negotiated the release of a British girl held hostage by the Nusra Front.) “There is no way the girls did this on their own.”
Khadiza’s sister, Ms. Khanom, was among those who traveled to Turkey. “It was like we were retracing their steps,” she said. When the appeal went out, the families learned that 53 other women and girls were believed to have left Britain for Syria.
“Fifty-three,” Ms. Khanom said. “Where are all these girls?”
The morning after the families returned to London, a message popped up on Ms. Khanom’s Instagram account. Her request to follow her sister, blocked since Khadiza had left for Syria, had been accepted.
Ms. Khanom said she sent Khadiza a private message, asking to let her know that she was safe. Her sister replied and later messaged again, asking about their mother.
“She is on her prayer mat asking Allah to help her find you,” Ms. Khanom wrote.
“I’ll call soon okay,” Khadiza replied.
“She has not been sleeping or eating since you left,” her sister wrote.
“Tell her to eat.”
“She is asking do you not want to see her?”
“Of course I do.”
But Khadiza also seemed suspicious of the families’ trip to Turkey, making Ms. Khanom wonder if it was really her sister messaging her. “It’s just the way of asking questions about what happened in Turkey: Why did I go? Those kind of things. It just felt like, why would she be asking me these questions, you know.”
At one point, Ms. Khanom tested her: “Who is Big Toe?” she asked. Khadiza sent back a “lol” and replied: “Our cousin.”
For a moment it was as if they were back in the same city. “I kind of forgot she’s not here,” Ms. Khanom said.
She asked her sister to keep in touch. Khadiza promised she would, but insisted that it would always be her to initiate contact. “I don’t think she has full freedom,” Ms. Khanom said.
The next day, Khadiza messaged again.
“I asked her, ‘Are you married?’ She goes, ‘You know me too well. I’m not here just to get married to someone,’” Ms. Khanom recalled. Khadiza said she was “considering.”
“What do you mean by considering?” Ms. Khanom recalled asking.
“Looking into getting married,” the reply came.
From these early conversations, and descriptions of the food they were eating — fried chicken, French fries and pizza — the families and authorities concluded that the three girls were in Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, housed in one of several hostels for single women. Khadiza said she was living in a nice house “with chandeliers.”
Ms. Khanom pleaded with her to come home, telling her that the police had assured the families that the girls would not face prosecution.
Khadiza did not believe it. “They’re lying,” she told her sister.
No Way Back?
At Bethnal Green Academy, a school with a fine academic record but now notorious for having four of its students join the Islamic State, the departure of the girls is gingerly referred to as “the incident.”
In the week after they ran away, the principal, Mark Keary, called an assembly. Students were upset, and some teachers cried. But it quickly became clear that this was not a place where the issue of the girls’ departure would be openly discussed. As Mr. Keary put it that same week, it was “business as usual” for the school.
“He brushed over it,” said one girl who had attended the assembly. Teachers have been threatened with dismissal if they speak out publicly, people inside the school said. Mr. Keary declined to comment.
Two weeks after the girls disappeared, the phone rang at the help line of the Active Change Foundation, the organization working on deradicalization and prevention.
It was the father of a student at Bethnal Green Academy. His daughter had overheard a group of girls at lunchtime talking about going to Syria. He said it appeared they were in contact with the girls already there and were planning to join them over the Easter holiday. Hanif Qadir, who runs the charity, informed the local council. On March 20, a judge took away the girls’ passports.
It was an early indication that Khadiza, Amira and Shamima seemed to be settling into life in Raqqa.
Since then, all three girls have married, their families’ lawyer confirmed. They were given a choice between a number of Western men. One chose a Canadian, another a European. Amira married Abdullah Elmir, a former butcher from Australia, who has appeared in several ISIS recruitment videos and has been named “ginger jihadi” for his reddish hair.
All three have moved out of the hostel and live with their husbands. They have sporadic contact with home. The conversations give the impression that the girls have few regrets about leaving their lives in London. But they also hint at hardships like frequent electricity cuts and shortages of Western goods. One recent chat came to an abrupt end because airstrikes were starting.
Khadiza told her sister that she still wanted to become a doctor. There is a medical school in Raqqa, she said. The logo for the Islamic State Health Service mimics the blue-and-white logo of Britain’s treasured National Health Service.
In a recent online exchange on Twitter and Kik with a British tabloid reporter posing as a schoolgirl interested in going to Syria, Amira gave instructions that appeared to track her own experience: She advised the “girl” to tell her parents that she was going for review classes to escape the house, then fly to Turkey and take a bus to Gaziantep, where she could be smuggled across the border. She recommended a travel agent in Brick Lane, a short walk from Bethnal Green Academy, which would accept cash and ask no questions, and suggested taking along bras because “they have the worst bras here.”
She also asked if the would-be recruit would consider becoming a second wife to a Lebanese-Australian, a description fitting her own husband, and appeared to mock a minute of silence for the mostly British victims of a recent shooting in Tunisia for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, with “Looooool,” shorthand for “laugh out loud.”
It is getting harder to know whether it is the girls who are communicating. Increasingly their conversations are interspersed with stock propagandistic phrases.
“Have they adapted that language, or is there someone standing next to them?” Mr. Akunjee asked. “We don’t know. But they’re not the people their families recognize. They’re not them anymore. And how could they be?”
Standing in her sister’s bedroom one recent afternoon Ms. Khanom recalled the girl who had watched “The Princess Diaries” at least four times and loved dancing Zumba in the living room.
Her room is unchanged; perfumes and teenage accessories remain on a small chest. Her exam schedule is still taped to the inside of her closet door: math, statistics, history, English. A checkered scarf, which Khadiza had dropped on the morning of her departure in the hallway outside, is neatly folded on a shelf. It still carries her scent.
There are frames filled with photographs of her sisters and her nephew, as well as her niece, who has taken her departure particularly badly.
“She’s very affected by it, she misses her terribly, Khalummy — that’s what she calls her, Khalummy,” Ms. Khanom said, referring to a Bengali term of endearment for aunt. “You know, sometimes she shows anger, sometimes she thinks that, you know, she could have stopped her that morning. She saw her get ready.”
“I don’t want to say they’re memories because ...,” Ms Khanom said, her eyes traveling across her sister’s things. “They’re memories, but not as if, like ...,” her voice trailing off again. “I hope and I feel she’s going to come back and things are going to go back to normal.”
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