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Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #250 on: April 17, 2008, 11:22:20 AM »

Chinese-Americans play an important role in high tech and we have seen some cases wherein the Feds have accused some of them of espionage.  I know you follow these issues-- can you comment on this?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #251 on: April 17, 2008, 02:52:11 PM »

If anything, the Chinese Ministry of State Security (China's version of the KGB) is more interested in economic espionage than getting political-military secrets, although that line is increasingly blurred, as technical knowledge IS political-military-economic strength in the 21st century.

As I understand it, the approach made both on Chinese nationals and Americans and Canadians of Chinese ancestry in high tech fields is to play on the ethnic loyalty and the Chinese Mainland's poverty to get small bits of sensitive information without formally recruiting their assets, unlike how the KGB recruited agents during the cold war.


(Published in The Asian Pacific Post August 8, 2003
3,500 Chinese spy companies identified in Canada and U.S.
By Asian Pacific News Service
The man looks and acts like any other Korean corner store owner - a hardworking newcomer to Canada.
You cannot tell by his simple appearance that he owns the building the store is in and that he has just bought a million dollar mansion in the posh Beaconsville area of Montreal.
You also cannot tell that he is one of North Korea's foremost spies in Eastern Canada who actually owns a large computer business in Mapo, South Korea, that employs hundreds of people.
In the highrise glass towers of Vancouver - Tricell (Canada) Inc. and Top Glory Enterprises Ltd., both incorporated in the late '80s work for the Communist government of China.
Among their jobs was to help facilitate the covert entry of secret police into Vancouver by hoodwinking the Canadian government. The agents were hunting for high profile fugitive businessman, Lai Changxing, who himself was recruited by the Chinese military to spy on Taiwan.
The visitor visas from the bogus business delegation was endorsed by Chinas Ministry of Trade and Economic Co-operation (MOFTEC) - one of the most powerful ministries in the Chinese government, responsible for such vital areas as negotiating China's entry into the World Trade Organization.
From the windows of both these firms, which constantly invite "Chinese business delegations" to Canada, company officials can see the arrival and departure of ships belonging to the maritime behemoth - COSCO.
The shipping line is intimately linked to the China International Trust and Investment Corp., a key fundraiser for the Chinese government and a technology-acquiring source for Chinas military.
Its vessels have been caught carrying thousands of weapons into California and Chinese missile-technology and biological-warfare components into North Korea, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, according to U.S. intelligence reports.
Insisting there is no evidence to show COSCO is involved in any illegal activity - the Vancouver Port Authority has a "gateway to North America" deal with the shipping giant.
When Canada's Nortel Telecommunications based in Brampton, Ontario wanted to do business in China, they hired Katrina Leung's company - Merry Glory Ltd.
Little did they know that 49-year-old corporate matchmaker would be in the limelight several years later accused of having have slept her way into the good graces of two FBI agents while stealing secrets for the Chinese government.
Leung, who was paid $1. 2 million in 1995 and 1996 for negotiating the Nortel-China deal, has strong connections to Canada's Chinese business associations.
Around the same time, the modern day Matahari was greasing the way for Nortel, the Canadian spy agency - CSIS - was conducting an investigation in the offices of Ontario Hydro regarding the theft of information in the nuclear technology field by "an individual of Chinese origin".
According to a secret intelligence report obtained by The Asian Pacific Post, the individual sent unauthorized faxes, some containing hours worth of data, to a telephone number in the offices of the State Science and Technology Commission of China.
The report said that there were two other cases where Canadian companies have alleged that their employees had been selling industrial secrets to China.
Like other ambitious young men who based their businesses in Hong Kong, James Ting was a citizen of the world, an entrepreneur who constructed a universe of interrelated companies and finances from Toronto to Tokyo to New York.
Ting was a darling of the Chinese-Canadian trade lobby. Even the Prime Minister's Office website lists Ting's Semi-Tech, once ranked as the nations 10th largest employer, as a member of Team Canada's business deals with China.
On the flip side, spy watchers were warning Ottawa without much success, that Ting was China's frontman to acquire high and medium technology and engage in economic and industrial espionage.
Among the companies Semi-Tech showed as part of its organization were several Chinese state-owned companies, related to military and intelligence activities obviously using what seemed to be a Canadian consumer based company as cover.
Two months ago, after avoiding a global manhunt while hiding in China, Ting surrendered to Hong Kong authorities where he is accused of serious financial crimes.
The mega-dealmaker, who stripped down companies in the west and to take their technology back to the east, left a trail of nearly $2 billion in debts and thousands without jobs.
The cases listed are but a small illustration of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said this week was the greatest espionage threat to North America in the next 10 years to 15 years.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told the United States Congress that China has more than 3,000 "front" companies in America whose real purpose is to direct espionage efforts. Some of the thousands of Chinese visitors, students and business people who go to the United States each year also have a government intelligence task to perform, authorities say.
"Left unchecked, such a situation could greatly undermine U.S. national security and U.S. military and economic advantage," Mueller told Congress.
"They figured out that what they want is throughout the United States, not just embassies, not just consulates," David Szady, FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a published interview. "Its a major effort."
To meet this challenge, the FBI has transferred 167 agents into counterintelligence and set up an anti-espionage operation for the first time in all 56 field offices. Each is putting together a comprehensive survey of the potential espionage targets in their domain to give the FBI its first broad national picture.
Preventive efforts include FBI meetings with corporate executives, university officials and others to gauge vulnerabilities. It also means undercover work at conferences that draw foreign scientists and development of intelligence "assets" who describe for an FBI agent what the foreign government wants.
The FBI has made fighting espionage the No. 2 priority behind stopping terrorism, with the same philosophy of tracking and stopping spies rather than waiting to prosecute them.
Training has been strengthened, the career track resurrected and a cadre of intelligence analysts is being built.
In Canada, intelligence reports indicate the number of Chinese front companies to be between 300 and 500.
But unlike the Americans, China experts say the political climate in Ottawa is not conducive to cracking down on this significant threat.
"Virtually all the recent prime ministers and Paul Martin who is likely to be the next have strong connections to China on the personal, business and political fronts," said an intelligence analyst specialising in East Asian affairs.
"They find it difficult to understand this threat some just deny it," he said.
For former Canadian foreign service officer Brian McAdam, this week's FBI warning reads like a passage out of a report he worked on for the Canadian spy agency.
McAdam worked on "Project Sidewinder" which was conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and aided by the RCMP between 1994 and 1996.
The conclusions were never publicly released, until leaked to the media amidst allegations that "political influence nixed the project."
That study mirrors this week's FBI assertions that China posed the most significant threat to Canada.
Sidewinder, analysts state, did not present theories but indicators of a multifaceted threat to national security. The report was generally ignored by the politicians. It was ahead of its time.
Among those whose connections were investigated were Macao casino king Stanley Ho, who has extensive interests in Canada, and Li Ka-shing, one of the world's wealthiest men, known in Vancouver for his purchase of the Expo lands and companies linked to tycoons like Robert Kuok, Cheng Yu Tung and Henry Fok.
Sidewinder among other things said many of the companies identified by the analysts have contributed "several tens of thousands of dollars to the two traditional political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives."
A major financial and brokerage house gave the Liberal party C$20,432.94 in 1994, a large petroleum company owned by a Beijing-friendly tycoon gave more than C$100,000 to the same two parties and political donations were also made by a triad-run Chinese film studio.
At the time of the study, analysts said at least 200 Canadian companies are under the direct or indirect control of China.
The central point of the Chinese strategy is first to buy a Canadian company to obtain a "local identity".
Then, using this acquisition, the Chinese-Canadian company invests heavily under the Canadian banner.
But control lies in Hong Kong or Beijing and the financial benefits or fruits of research, often paid for by Ottawa or the provinces, are likely to make their way to Asia.
One China-controlled multinational with assets of more than US$23 billion, had spent more than $500 million buying companies in the forest sector in B.C., petrochemical firms in Alberta and real estate in central Canada.
It said that Triad or Chinese mafia members are behind an international seafood processing company that has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Mississauga. The company is believed to be a front for importing heroin. In addition, company managers have maintained regular contacts with Chinese army officials and paid for visits of Chinese delegations.
Sidewinder warned that the Chinese government was taking advantage of growing business ties between China and Canada to provide cover for intelligence services.
One example cited said a company owned by a Chinese-Canadian national sponsored what was ostensibly a Chinese business delegation to Canada. In reality, the delegation was comprised of Ministry of State Security officials travelling to Canada to conduct an intelligence operation.
Another similar delegation comprised officers from a sensitive sector of the People's Liberation Army, who were attempting to make arrangements to purchase secure communications technology for military purposes.
The Canadian spy agency which was at loggerheads with the RCMP over certain characterizations in the report said the Sidewinder study done by McAdam and others was revised and certain documents destroyed because they were based on unprovable conspiracy theories.
The spy agency later issued a watered-down version of the Sidewinder study to a select government group.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee, the civilian watchdog of Canada's spy agency, has once again been asked to review the handling of Sidewinder by CSIS.
"What is critical here is to compare the FBI study with Sidewinder. What is being released to Congress is what we warned the Canadian government about in the mid-nineties," McAdam told The Asian Pacific Post.
"The stuff about influence in universities, etc., was in Sidewinder... They did not want to listen to us then... maybe they will listen now."
Meanwhile, a report out of Ottawa this week said that Prime Minister Jean Chretien is planning a trip to China as part of an international farewell tour.
"Taxpayers are footing the bill on a trip that is going to do Canadians very little good. Do you think there's one beef farmer in Canada, whether it's Ontario or Western Canada that wants him to go to China - unless he's trying to sell them beef. Why can't he go sit down with the leader in Japan? That is the most important issue right now," said Canadian Alliance House leader John Reynolds, referring to the ongoing crisis caused by the mad-cow disease.
Reynolds said if Chretien wants to wrap up his time in office conducting an international farewell tour to "say goodbye to his friends," thats fine, but he should ask Paul Martin, his anticipated successor, to fill in for him while he is away.
Chretien is to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting in Bangkok Oct. 17-21 as well as the annual Commonwealth meeting in Nigeria in December.
But sources say he is seriously considering tacking on a trip to China and another one to India after his APEC meeting in Thailand.
The prime minister's office said Chretien may go to Shanghai at the recent request of the Chinese president to attend the opening of two Candu reactors.
The reactors, which employ 450 Canadians, were sold to China by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd after Ottawa changed legislation to provide Beijing with over $1.9 billion in loans.
The office also confirmed that Chretien is also considering an invitation to meet with the Canada-China Business Council (CCBC) in Beijing.
Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #252 on: April 22, 2008, 01:35:53 PM »

By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
CNN Special Investigations Unit
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Their mission is to protect airline passengers from acts of terror on U.S. flights. But in a special investigation, former and current air marshals told CNN that the number of marshals assigned to police flights is so low that the federal agency overseeing them has drastically lowered its firearms and psychological testing standards just so it can qualify new hires.

More than a dozen current and former marshals said that so many federal air marshals have resigned and are not being replaced, airport screeners are being employed to fill the dwindling ranks.

But the TSA says that's not true and that the rate of those leaving has remained at 6.5 percent a year since 2001.

A former federal air marshal and weapons trainer who left the agency in 2006 after four years of service said the situation was so bad that managers at his office fudged the numbers by assigning marshals to short, no-risk flights.

The former marshal said that was done to make it appear that the percentage of manned flights was higher than it really was.

"I think it's a national disgrace,'' said the former marshal, who asked not to be identified because he still works in law enforcement.

The Federal Air Marshal Service was greatly expanded in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, when flights to "high-risk cities" such as New York were given special air marshal manpower priority.

Assignments are "intelligence-driven" and "risk-based," the Federal Air Marshal Service said in an e-mail. But many of the marshals interviewed said it had little to do with intelligence or risk and was more about a numbers game.

"We were questioning how these flights could be intelligence-driven when we were flying from San Diego to Phoenix on another leg to Las Vegas back to Phoenix back to San Diego," the former marshal said. "It's not a threat flying on Southwest Airlines to Las Vegas."

Faced with fewer qualified applicants, current air marshals said that recruiting standards have been lowered. Air marshals still patrolling flights also said the loss of so many experienced agents has led the TSA to hire airport screeners as air marshals.

Agency spokesman Greg Alter said in an e-mail that only "a very small number of air marshals started their careers as Transportation Security Officers [airport screeners]."

Alter added that all "candidates receive the best training available and enter the workforce with the skill and expertise needed to protect the traveling public."

In July 2006, the Federal Air Marshal Service sent out a memo saying that new hires would no longer face mandatory psychological testing, unless the recruit admits that he or she has been treated for a mental condition.

TSA said it revised but did not "degrade" the psychological testing of applicants using the application and interaction with others in the service to determine mental competency.

On firearms training, a former weapons instructor with air marshals said that when recruits could not pass the tough federal tactical pistol course, known as the TPC, it was replaced with a less rigorous shooting test the potential recruits could pass.

"The TPC went away very quickly because they couldn't get enough people through it to pass," the former air marshal trainer said. "So they dropped the tactical pistol course and went to the practical pistol course, which is a standard federal law enforcement course. It's not nearly as quick or as dynamic as TPC."

But the TSA disputes the claim, saying it altered the weapons training six years ago because marshals needed more of a police-type training program rather than military-style weapons instruction.

The TSA said in an e-mail that "the course of fire and minimum qualification score air marshal candidates must acquire is the same today as it has been for over six years."

To replace departing air marshals, the TSA hired internally, including some administrative staff who had no college, law enforcement or military backgrounds, one current marshal said.

"To me, it's more of an embarrassment to be a member of that agency that would allow that particular individual in the training program," one marshal said. "I wouldn't want them on my flight. ... I don't want them as my partner."

The revelations come in the wake of a CNN investigation, in which air marshals and pilots said that only about 1 percent of the nation's 28,000 daily domestic flights were protected by onboard, armed federal marshals.

The Federal Air Marshal Service disputes that figure.

CNN's report about the declining number of marshals on planes also got the attention of Congress.

In a congressional hearing this week, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, told members of Congress that what CNN heard from the air marshals is wrong.

"I have to just correct on the factual basis on the CNN report about air marshals covering 1 percent. That number is absolutely wrong by an order of magnitude, and it was a guess by the folks there, and I just have to say that number is completely false."

Hawley would not say what percentage of flights has air marshals. That's a national security secret.

The service hides behind national security to keep the public from knowing how thin coverage really is, air marshals said.

The Federal Air Marshal Service continues to refuse CNN's request for an interview.

This month, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, began holding closed-door meetings with the air marshal's service to determine whether congressional oversight committees are getting the truth.

"We will keep working and continuing to make sure that the airlines are served with the appropriate law enforcement that ensures the safety of the traveling public. We, too, are not interested in having funny numbers," Jackson Lee said.

Jackson Lee said that the committee has not finished its work and that she is convinced American air travel is safe for passengers. "It is important to restate and to re-emphasize: This is not an open opportunity for those who would attempt to do Americans harm. We are light years from where we were in 2000. We have trained personnel. They're being utilized, and we feel that we are steps ahead of where we were, but we want to get better. And that's what we intend to do."

After seeing CNN's initial report, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts sent a letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff asking for clarity on the number of air marshals protecting domestic flights and sought a response by April 11.

The senator is still waiting, Kerry's staff said.

Todd Schwarzschild also contributed to this report.


Find this article at: 
Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #253 on: May 14, 2008, 07:49:15 AM »

Italian’s Detention Illustrates Dangers Foreign Visitors Face
Published: May 14, 2008
He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

Mr. Salerno’s case may be extreme, but it underscores the real but little-known dangers that many travelers from Europe and other first-world nations face when they arrive in the United States — problems that can startle Americans as much as their foreign visitors.

“We have a lot of government people here and lobbyists and lawyers and very educated, very savvy Washingtonians,” said Jim Cooper, Ms. Cooper’s father, a businessman, describing the reaction in his neighborhood, the Wessynton subdivision of Alexandria. “They were pretty shocked that the government could do this sort of thing, because it doesn’t happen that often, except to people you never hear about, like Haitians and Guatemalans.”

Each year, thousands of would-be visitors from 27 so-called visa waiver countries are turned away when they present their passports, said Angelica De Cima, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, who said she could not discuss any individual case. In the last seven months, 3,300 people have been rejected and more than 8 million admitted, she said.

Though citizens of those nations do not need visas to enter the United States for as long as 90 days, their admission is up to the discretion of border agents. There are more than 60 grounds for finding someone inadmissible, including a hunch that the person plans to work or immigrate, or evidence of an overstay, however brief, on an earlier visit.

While those turned away are generally sent home on the next flight, “there are occasional circumstances which require further detention to review their cases,” Ms. De Cima said. And because such “arriving aliens” are not considered to be in the United States at all, even if they are in custody, they have none of the legal rights that even illegal immigrants can claim.

Government officials have acknowledged that intensified security since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has sometimes led to the heavy-handed treatment of foreigners caught in a bureaucratic tangle or paperwork errors. But despite encouraging officers to resolve such cases quickly, excesses continue to come to light.

One recent case involved an Icelandic woman who was refused entry at Kennedy Airport because, a dozen years earlier, she had overstayed her visa by three weeks. The woman, Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, was deported Dec. 10 after what she described as 24 hours of interrogation and humiliating treatment — locked in a cell and barred from making phone calls. The Department of Homeland Security later issued a letter of regret.

In questioning Mr. Salerno, customs agents seemed to suspect that he intended to work here. Ms. Cooper, a copy editor for an educational publication, said she was in the airport lobby when an agent called to ask about Mr. Salerno’s income and why he visited so often.

The youngest son of a prosperous contractor in Calabria, Mr. Salerno helps out in his brother’s law firm in Rome and is able to visit the United States several times a year. Neighbors said he joined volunteers in refurbishing the Wessynton recreation center in 2006, then became one of its summer attractions, kicking a soccer ball with the kids and playing tennis with the adults.

“He just is a very open, fun and helpful guy,” said Christopher M. Porter, a resident of Wessynton.

Ms. Cooper said that at the airport, when she begged to know what was happening to Mr. Salerno, an agent told her, “You know, he should try spending a little more time in his own country.”

Another agent eventually told her to go home because Mr. Salerno was being detained as an asylum-seeker.

“The border patrol officer said to my face that Domenico said he would be killed if he went back to Italy,” she recalled, voicing incredulity that, in his halting English, he could express such a thought. “Also, who on earth would ever seek asylum from Italy?”

Twelve hours later, when Mr. Salerno was granted a five-minute phone call, he called Ms. Cooper and denied saying anything of the kind. Instead, he said, the asylum story seemed to be retaliation for his insisting on speaking to his embassy.

After being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he was taken to the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, Va., where he ended up in a barracks with 75 other men, including asylum-seekers who told him they had been waiting a year.

Ten days after he landed in Washington, Mr. Salerno was still incarcerated, despite efforts by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, and two former immigration prosecutors hired by the Coopers.

“He’s just really scared,” Ms. Cooper said in an interview last Thursday. “He asked me if Virginia has the death penalty.”

Luis Paoli, a lawyer hired by the Coopers, said there was no limit on detention while waiting for an asylum interview. But even after officials agreed the asylum issue had been a mistake, Mr. Salerno was not released.

“Now an innocent European, who has never broken any laws, committed any crimes, or overstayed his visa, is being held in a county jail,” Ms. Cooper wrote in an e-mail message to The New York Times last Wednesday, prompting a reporter’s inquiries.

Less than 24 hours later, immigration officials intervened and arranged to deliver Mr. Salerno to Dulles, where last Friday he flew to Rome. Ms. Cooper, who said she was now considering moving to Italy, was by his side.

Mr. Salerno was still shaken. “In America,” he said, “there are so many good people and beautiful people that don’t deserve to be showing these terrible things to the world.”
Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #254 on: May 16, 2008, 03:52:05 PM »

The Brits are our very good friends, so I include this here:

Afghan plane hijacker is now working as a cleaner at Heathrow


One of the nine Afghans who won the right to live in Britain after hijacking a plane is now working at Heathrow airport as a cleaner, it emerged last night.

Nazamuddin Mohammidy was one of a group who took over an internal Afghan flight in 2000 and landed it in the UK, where they threatened to kill those on board unless they were granted asylum.  Now it has emerged Mohammidy, 34, was recently arrested while driving a car around the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport.  Police suspected he was an unlicensed cab driver but were stunned when checks revealed he was one of the hijackers. He even had a British Airways pass on him.  Mohammidy was among the gang, who claimed they were fleeing the Taliban, which took over an Ariana Airlines jet on an internal flight in Afghanistan in February 2000 armed with firearms and hand grenades.

The Boeing 727, with 160 passengers on board, was diverted to Stansted Airport in Essex. There, the hijackers kept police and SAS marksmen at bay for four days before giving themselves up.  All were jailed, but later had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal.  They have since been living in West London rent-free and on state benefits at an annual cost of £150,000 to the taxpayer.

Mohammidy has been living in Hounslow, Middx, with his family and has spent months employed by a firm that has a contract to clean a BA training centre at Heathrow.  Sources last night insisted the BA pass didn't give him airside access, but did allow him into secure areas.

When police pulled him in Mohammidy, wasn't arrested for terror offences but for breaching his bail conditions over an assault charge. He is accused of beating up his former landlord.  Yesterday Mohammidy appeared in court over the bail breach, but magistrates in Uxbridge bailed him again - meaning he is back on the streets.  A Scotland Yard spokesman last night confirmed that Mohammidy had appeared in court over the bail breach, which took place in December.  He will reappear before magistrates in Ealing on May 19.

The spokesman added: "In December 2007 Officers stopped and searched a man under section 44 of the Terrorism Act at Terminal 5. Inquiries revealed he was in breach of bail."

Mohammidy, and brothers Ali and Mohammed Safi, were jailed along with Abdul Shohab, Taimur Shah, Abdul Ghayur, Mohammed Kazin, Mohammed Showaib and Reshad Ahmadi in 2001 over the hijack.

But in 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled their convictions for hijacking, false imprisonment and possessing guns and explosives were unsafe.

The men were released and settled in private properties in Hounslow, where they, their wives and children enjoyed a standard of living far removed from the life they left behind in Afghanistan.

Their houses had large gardens, computers, video recorders and hi-fi systems. The Afghans were also been given lessons in English and computer skills at a nearby college.

In 2006 Mr Justice Sullivan caused widespread outrage after ordering the Home Office to grant the gang 'discretionary leave' to remain in Britain as Afghanistan was 'unsafe' to return to.

The judge also ruled there had been an 'abuse of power' at the highest level in the handling of the case and singled out former Home Secretary David Blunkett and his successor Charles Clarke for acting 'unlawfully.'

A BA spokesman said last night: "We have been helping police with their inquiries into a man who is employed by a cleaning contractor."
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #255 on: May 16, 2008, 10:10:10 PM »

IMHO, the next major terror attack CONUS will be, at least in part from jihadis holding US/UK/EU passports.
Power User
Posts: 42479

« Reply #256 on: May 17, 2008, 12:35:16 AM »

This clip certainly does not inspire confidence:
Howling Dog
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Posts: 392

« Reply #257 on: May 17, 2008, 09:00:29 AM »

Scannning the recent posts this caught my eye.......

IMHO, the next major terror attack CONUS will be, at least in part from jihadis holding US/UK/EU passports.

 9/11 may have been plannned in some afghan cave some where.....It was actually hatched  out and done pretty much from within the U.S. pretty much American made(except the players) ..........So I'am pretty much in agreement.

My question is How is it then prevented?

Howling Dog
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Posts: 42479

« Reply #258 on: May 17, 2008, 10:46:02 AM »

Woof Tom:

A number of the entries in the "Legal Issues presented , , ," thread address the legal aspect of answering this question.
Howling Dog
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Posts: 392

« Reply #259 on: May 17, 2008, 12:17:42 PM »

Woof, Ok.....I was just wondering if these would be fake passports........Or why we would issue passports to terrorists........

Howling Dog
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #260 on: May 17, 2008, 12:54:08 PM »

Counterfeit passports are an issue, though what i'm talking about is citizens of the west waging jihad against their own nations. The 7/7 London bombers, or Rodney Hampton-el, a US born and raised black muslim that was part of the original NYC/NJ al qaeda cell that first bombed the WTC as examples.
Howling Dog
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Posts: 392

« Reply #261 on: May 17, 2008, 01:02:29 PM »

Woof GM, I agree with you on this and find this really hard to prevent.
I personally would like to see more reasources being spent at home than abroad....but anyway....

Would you include Timothy Mcvie(sp) the Oklahoma city fed bldg. bomber in this group of possible terrorists?

Howling Dog
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #262 on: May 17, 2008, 01:14:13 PM »


A huge amount of resources is being spent here, but the biggest factor in AQ not being able to top 9/11 in the last 7 years has been our offensives against AQ's global infastructure. Taking out training camps, interdicting their flow of money and killing their members does a lot to impair their ability to wage an offensive.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #263 on: May 17, 2008, 01:34:26 PM »

Woof GM, I agree with you on this and find this really hard to prevent.
I personally would like to see more reasources being spent at home than abroad....but anyway....

Would you include Timothy Mcvie(sp) the Oklahoma city fed bldg. bomber in this group of possible terrorists?

Terrorists motivated by left/right radicalism are threats, though not at the same level as the global jihad, which presents a long term existential threat to the US/Western world. Regarding McVeigh, there are those that claim a McVeigh-al-qaeda link. There is a historical alliance between the nazis and jihadis that still thrives today.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #264 on: May 17, 2008, 03:33:48 PM »

Here are two top notch books on the topic of homeland security:
Howling Dog
Power User
Posts: 392

« Reply #265 on: May 17, 2008, 03:56:52 PM »

There is a historical alliance between the nazis and jihadis that still thrives today.

Now thats a match I do not understand..... One being Racist and one being religous........

I will admit one thing.......things have been quite....Lets hope they stay that way.

Though my understanding of terrorism is that terrorism uses time to its advantage and the willingness to wait for the opertune moment, is a attribute to terrorism.
Take Bin Laden for example, he is showing a tremendous amount of restraint and not trying to force anything......He makes very little noise these days.
Yet we all know hes there......

Howling Dog
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #266 on: May 17, 2008, 04:04:17 PM »

Both are militaristic totalitarians with a deep seated hatred of jews and freedom.

Patience is an asset the jihadis have that we don't, however AQ has been needing a followup to 9/11 for years now to prove their relevance. We've rolled up every big plot and forced them to cower in Pakistan's caves, however the Shia side of the global jihad is surging forward with little to stop them at this time.
Howling Dog
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Posts: 392

« Reply #267 on: May 17, 2008, 04:22:39 PM »

That is an intresting relation between Nazi's and Jihadis....Seems to make sense...not sure they could live well together....but anyway, it is understood.
Is the hatred for America related to our freedom or our alliance with Israel...or both?

however the Shia side of the global jihad is surging forward with little to stop them at this time.

Expound please? I'am thinking Sadr and Iran/Iraq....but see little threat to the U.S. with the exception of our being on their playing field in Iraq.......which was not their playing field until we made it that way.

Are they intrested in Terrorism on a global scale?

Howling Dog
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« Reply #268 on: May 17, 2008, 04:53:55 PM »

That is an intresting relation between Nazi's and Jihadis....Seems to make sense...not sure they could live well together....but anyway, it is understood.
Is the hatred for America related to our freedom or our alliance with Israel...or both?

**Both. Just as Israel is a target for the jihadis because they exist on what was muslim conquered land, the jihadis speak the same way about Spain eventually being returned to "Dar al-islam" from "Dar al-harb" as part of the return of the Caliphate that will eventually span the world.**

however the Shia side of the global jihad is surging forward with little to stop them at this time.

Expound please? I'am thinking Sadr and Iran/Iraq....but see little threat to the U.S. with the exception of our being on their playing field in Iraq.......which was not their playing field until we made it that way.

**Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, if not already one and has been waging a war against us since 1979. Until 9/11, hezbollah (A wholly owned subsidiary of Iran's Revolutionary Guard) had killed more Americans than any other group. Hezbollah has demonstrated a global reach. This capacity, with nukes really does threaten the future of the United States.**

Are they intrested in Terrorism on a global scale?

**Yes. They have been ever since the Iranian revolution. Only Israel has really stepped up and bled them. Sadly, despite all the losses they've inflicted on us, we've never held them accountable. Our weakness emboldens them.**
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« Reply #269 on: May 17, 2008, 09:44:14 PM »

Steven Malanga
Illegal in More Ways than One
Identity theft in America goes hand and hand with illegal immigration.
Spring 2008

As everyone knows, America is experiencing an epidemic of identity theft. In the last five years alone, complaints to the Federal Trade Commission from U.S. residents who have had their identity stolen have skyrocketed 60 percent, to 258,427 in 2007—one-third of all consumer fraud complaints that the commission receives. What’s less well understood, however, is how illegal immigration is helping to fuel this rash of crime. Seeking access to jobs, credit, and driver’s licenses, many undocumented aliens are using the personal data of real Americans on forged documents. The immigrants’ identity theft has become so pervasive that the need to combat it is “a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The FTC’s latest statistics help show why. The top five states in terms of reported identity theft in 2007 all have large immigrant populations—the border states of Arizona, California, and Texas, as well as Florida and Nevada. People who pilfer legitimate identities in these states are much more likely than in other parts of the country to use them to gain employment unlawfully—the most common reason that illegal aliens steal personal information. In Arizona, for instance, 36 percent of all identity theft is for employment purposes, compared with only 5 percent in Maine, a state with far fewer illegal aliens. “To many law enforcement leaders in Arizona, this suggests that Arizona’s identity-theft epidemic is directly linked to the problem of illegal immigration,” says a recent report by Identity Theft 911, an Arizona company that helps businesses and individuals protect themselves.

Government investigations have only begun to uncover the extent of the crime wave. When ICE agents raided six Swift meat-processing plants in December 2006, they found widespread evidence of fraud involving the use of real people’s identities; the feds eventually charged 148 illegal aliens in the case with crimes related to identity theft. In the first year and a half after Arizona created a special unit to deal with identity theft, investigators said that they were able to purchase more than 1,000 phony documents that made use of real people’s identities. A so-called three-pack—a Social Security card, a driver’s license, and a permanent-resident card—costs on average just $160 in the state.

Government statistics probably grossly underestimate the size of the problem. Many local police departments don’t track identity theft accurately, and the FTC only reports complaints that it receives. By combining data on complaints with FTC consumer surveys—which show that far more people have had their identity stolen than report it—Identity Theft 911 estimates that in Arizona alone, some 1.57 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, have been victims over the last six years. About one-fifth are children—whose Social Security numbers are especially valuable targets, since the kids usually aren’t employed, making discovery of the fraud less likely. “We just don’t know how they’re getting all this information on minors,” says Maryann McKessy, bureau chief for fraud and identity-theft enforcement in the Maricopa County attorney general’s office.

One disturbing theory: health-care employees with access to children’s files are working for organized gangs that trade in illegal documents and are willing to pay richly for the data. “We have a major problem with workers in medical offices stealing patients’ identities, selling them and making a direct profit,” Sergeant James Bracke of the Phoenix Police Department told authors of the Arizona report. The gangs can afford these bribes because identity theft has become such a big business. In Phoenix, “coyotes,” the smugglers who lead illegal immigrants over our borders, have created a network of phony-document producers and safe houses where undocumented workers can wait until they get their fraudulent papers.

Americans who have their identity stolen by these gangs are in for major headaches. Among the complaints filed with the FTC is that of a Texas man arrested for a crime committed by an illegal alien who had filched his identity. In another case, highlighted by Nevada senator John Ensign in last year’s immigration-reform debate in Congress, the Internal Revenue Service hit a woman with a $1 million back-tax bill, even though she was a stay-at-home mom. An investigation later found that 218 illegal aliens were using her Social Security number. A Los Angeles police detective—who, ironically, worked in the department’s fraud bureau—was unable to buy a home because of bills piled up by an illegal immigrant who stole his Social Security number to gain employment at a processing plant. Then the IRS served the cop with a bill for $40,000 in back taxes; when he protested, the agency threatened to send his case to collection. Other legal residents have had their unemployment claims or workers’ compensation cases rejected after government records showed that someone with their Social Security number was working.

Despite all this, efforts to crack down on identity theft have proved controversial. Ensign offered an amendment to last year’s immigration-reform bill that would have barred illegals from Social Security benefits if they obtained work using stolen identities, but the amendment went down to defeat after critics complained that it was unfair to refuse benefit payments to those who had contributed to the Social Security system, even if they did so under a false identity. Ultimately, the immigration bill itself was defeated, in part because of controversy over its provisions to offer amnesty to illegal aliens, including those who might have stolen identities.

Frustrated by what some see as a tepid federal response, local officials in the hardest-hit areas have stepped up antitheft efforts. In Arizona, a new law makes it a felony to use the identity of another person to obtain a job. Local law enforcement agencies, like the Maricopa County attorney general’s office and the Phoenix Police Department, have expanded their fraud units. Even private businesses have gotten into the fight. Last year, the Arizona offices of A. G. Edwards, the national brokerage firm, held “community shred-a-thons” to give people a chance to destroy outdated financial records and other documents that might provide information to identity-theft gangs.

But many local law enforcement agencies still don’t treat the theft as a serious crime. Until they do, Americans who have had their identity stolen will pay the price in time, stress, and expensive legal bills.

Steven Malanga is senior editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of The New New Left, a collection of his City Journal essays.
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« Reply #270 on: May 21, 2008, 11:20:26 AM »

I find myself wondering what the ethnicity of these two men is?  Curious that they may have sought to use the same ingredient in an attempted Islamo Fascist attack in the UK , , ,

May 21, 2008

Swedish Police Hold Two Men Over Nuclear Scare

Filed at 11:42 a.m. ET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish police detained two men on suspicion of planning to sabotage a nuclear power station on Wednesday after one of them was discovered entering it with small amounts of a highly explosive material.

"Two men who were taken in for questioning this morning have now been detained on suspicion of preparing for sabotage," said Kalmar County Police spokesman Sven-Erik Karlsson.

Police were alerted shortly before 8 a.m. by the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant on the southeast coast of Sweden. Initially, police only said they were interrogating one man.

"They told us a welder who was going to perform a job there had been stopped in a random security check. He had been carrying small amounts of the highly explosive material TATP," Karlsson said.

TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, is extremely unstable, especially when subjected to heat, friction and shock.

The compound can be prepared in a home laboratory from easily available household chemicals. It has been used by suicide bombers in Israel and by Richard Reid, the thwarted British "shoebomber" who attempted to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001.

Police did not initially treat the men as criminal suspects.

"They were only being questioned in order to gather information," Karlsson said.

He said both were contract workers and one of them was previously known to police. He had no other details other than the years in which they were born, 1955 and 1962.


Police sealed off a 300-meter (330-yard) area around the substance and called in explosives technicians from Malmo, the nearest large city.

Oskarshamn, jointly owned by Germany's E.ON and Finland's Fortum, said in a statement on its Web site that it believed the reactor's safety was never threatened.

An E.ON spokesman said the material had been found on or inside the first man's bag. "What has happened is that a guy, a contractor, this morning came to the security check with a bag on which, or in which, there were traces of explosives," E.ON spokesman Johan Aspegren said.

An official at the plant said the men had been at one of the plant's three reactors, which had been shut for maintenance.

Professor Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said TATP was mainly used as an initiator or "trigger explosive" to detonate a larger main charge.

He said four men who tried unsuccessfully to set off bombs on London transport in July 2005 had used detonators with 5-10 grams (0.18 to 0.35 oz) of TATP but failed to ignite the main charge of their devices.

Michels said TATP could also be used as a main charge, in which case he estimated that more than 100 grams (3.5 oz) of it would be needed to blow a hole in a heavy structure with an inch

or more of high-quality steel.

"Normal explosive experts shun (TATP) because it's very unstable, it's dangerous and it's not very pure. It tends to decompose," Michels said.

An experienced British investigator, who asked not to be named, said it was possible for small traces of household products such as hair bleach to trigger positive readings when picked up by explosive-screening devices. Hair bleach commonly contains hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient in TATP.

Oskarshamn is one of three nuclear plants in Sweden that meet half the country's power needs. Sweden's nuclear industry has been hit by a series of mishaps in recent years, prompting the United Nations nuclear watchdog to call for safety measures.

The Swedish nuclear regulator said there has never been an incident involving sabotage of a Swedish nuclear plant, although last year a bomb threat was received at one facility and turned out to be false.
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« Reply #271 on: May 24, 2008, 03:26:12 PM »

CAIR Sabotaging Anti-Terror Training in Seattle
Sat, May 24, 2008 at 9:53:52 am PST

In Seattle, the Hamas-linked Council on American Islamic Relations is doing what it always does—sabotaging efforts to educate law enforcers about Islamic terrorism: Does course on Islam give law enforcers wrong idea?

And again, the Seattle Times quotes representatives of CAIR without a single word about their ties to terrorist groups or their status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding trial.

Some local Muslim community members are upset about a training course for local law enforcement, saying it could promote stereotypes and ethnic and religious profiling.

The program, called “The Threat of Islamic Jihadists to the World” and conducted by a Miami-based company, began Thursday and continues today at the Port of Seattle. It is billed as providing insight into the formative phases of Islam, the religion’s different branches, radical Islam and how to respond to terrorist acts.

But Arsalan Bukhari, president of the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the program appears to be linking an entire religion to terrorism.

“Most police officers don’t have a basic grounding in Islam, so before you teach them about Islam, how can you teach them about radical Islam?” he asked. “It just makes you nervous because when a law-enforcement person pulls someone over, when they see a Muslim person or someone who appears Muslim to them — all this information they just learned kicks in.”

Bukhari believes the need for police training on issues of profiling and bias was highlighted by an incident last summer in which the FBI launched an international search for two men who took photos below deck on a Washington state ferry. The FBI announced earlier this month that the men were tourists, not terrorists. Bukhari said law-enforcement agencies need to learn about Islam, but not just in the context of terrorism.

But Solomon Bradman, CEO of Security Solutions International, which is conducting the program, said, “I can’t take the responsibility of my course linking their religion to terrorism. I think their religion got linked to terrorism a long time ago.”

And the police chief of the Port of Seattle is embracing the terror-linked Saudi-funded front group.

Port Police Chief Colleen Wilson met with local CAIR representatives and offered to have them come in to do additional training. Bukhari said CAIR intends to do so.
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« Reply #272 on: May 26, 2008, 02:27:58 PM »

Article published May 25, 2008
U.S. terror attack seen apt to follow '08 vote

May 25, 2008

By Rowan Scarborough - When the next president takes office in January, he or she will likely receive an intelligence brief warning that Islamic terrorists will attempt to exploit the transition in power by planning an attack on America, intelligence experts say.

After all, that is what happened to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at a time when their national security teams and their counterterrorism plans were in flux.

Islamic terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in February 1993, in Mr. Clinton's second month as president. Al Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks came in the Bush presidency's first year. The strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened as the White House national security director was formulating a comprehensive plan for combating Osama bin Laden's terror network, which had declared war on the United States.

The pattern is clear to some national security experts. Terrorists pay particular attention to a government in transition as the most opportune window to launch an attack.

"If I were asked by the newly elected president, I would strongly encourage him to be extremely vigilant during the transition period and within the first six months of his administration against an attack by al Qaeda on American interests at home or abroad," said Bart Bechtel, a retired CIA operations officer and assistant chief academic officer at Henley-Putnam University.

Mr. Bechtel said he thinks al Qaeda operatives will debate a future course based on who is elected.

Both Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot, have had extensive exposure to military security issues.

Both have attacked first-term Sen. Barack Obama's ability to handle national security.

Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, has focused on Mr. Obama's stated willingness to meet with any world leader, including Iran's, without preconditions. Mrs. Clinton, New York Democrat, ran TV ads implying Mr. Obama is not qualified to manage an international crisis.

"I could see al Qaeda waiting to determine who was going to be the president and depending on which it is, taking an initial measure," Mr. Bechtel said. "For instance, Obama may be viewed as someone who will accomplish what al Qaeda would like him to do, which is get out of the Middle East, and give him an opportunity to move in that direction. Failing that, they may decide to test him with a substantial attack on America or some American interest and see how he reacts."

A U.S. intelligence official declined to comment on how the next president will be briefed.

Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat, has vowed to remove all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months. He regularly has referred to the war against terror as centered in Afghanistan, while the Bush administration takes a broader view and sees Iraq as an opportunity to inflict a battlefield loss on al Qaeda. The White House has trumpeted the fact that the county has suffered no homeland terror strikes since Sept. 11, 2001.

Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff and an Obama campaign co-chairman, told The Washington Times that Mr. Obama's rivals are underestimating his ability to meet a challenge. Gen. McPeak likened him to Abraham Lincoln.

"I think people are only now beginning to realize that Barack is not your run-of-the-mill, ordinary Illinois politician," he said. "He's more like another Illinois politician who everybody underestimated."

Gen. McPeak added, "I feel bad about giving Barack advice because every time I do, I know that he's thought about it already. So I would draw him aside and say, 'The minute you're inaugurated, you will be tested.' He'll say, 'Oh, you mean like Kennedy was with the Bay of Pigs?' He'll show me some way that he's thought about that some time ago. The guy is absolutely scary smart. The real mistake al Qaeda can make is the one everybody else makes of underestimating the man."

Mr. Bechtel said bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders are likely weighing their next step right now.

"They are in a wait-and-see situation right now," he said. "They run the risk, if they attack before the election, of really influencing the way the election goes, to their detriment. If there's an attack, I really believe McCain is going to run away with the election, and I don't think they want that. I think they really would like Obama as their first choice and Clinton as their second."

Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism specialist at the Congressional Research Service, said "Al Qaeda has a pattern of testing new American leaders."

"Even now, al Qaeda is probably trying to plan something for after the U.S. inauguration," he said. "I think to a certain extent, al Qaeda tested President Clinton's administration several times. The response was ineffective. I think al Qaeda concluded it could attempt something as ambitious as 9/11, but concluded the time was better after a new president, who would not have time to review his strategy on al Qaeda. The time settled on was the summer or early fall, after a new president was inaugurated. They chose September because they wanted all the officials to be back at their desks from summer vacations."

A Congressional Research Service report last month noted that January will mark the first change in administrations since the 2001 al Qaeda attacks.

"Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new president's ability to effectively safeguard U.S. interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing president," the report states.

The report urges the Bush administration to deliver extensive threat briefings to the president-elect's national security team.

Congress foresaw such a need when it wrote the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The law allows for presidential candidates to obtain pre-election security clearances for its chosen transition officials so they can immediately be briefed on security threats by the outgoing administration.

On al Qaeda's ability to attack America again, Mr. Bechtel said, "I think they are still somewhat fractured. If you want to look at it as a piece of window glass, it's broken, but there are lots of sharp pieces out there. I think within the tribal areas of Pakistan, they feel pretty darn comfortable."
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« Reply #273 on: June 15, 2008, 08:08:27 PM »

Smugglers Had Design For Advanced Warhead
By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2008; A01

An international smuggling ring that sold bomb-related parts to Libya, Iran and North Korea also managed to acquire blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon, according to a draft report by a former top U.N. arms inspector that suggests the plans could have been shared secretly with any number of countries or rogue groups.

The drawings, discovered in 2006 on computers owned by Swiss businessmen, included essential details for building a compact nuclear device that could be fitted on a type of ballistic missile used by Iran and more than a dozen developing countries, the report states.

The computer contents -- among more than 1,000 gigabytes of data seized -- were recently destroyed by Swiss authorities under the supervision of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, which is investigating the now-defunct smuggling ring previously led by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

But U.N. officials cannot rule out the possibility that the blueprints were shared with others before their discovery, said the report's author, David Albright, a prominent nuclear weapons expert who spent four years researching the smuggling network.

"These advanced nuclear weapons designs may have long ago been sold off to some of the most treacherous regimes in the world," Albright wrote in a draft report about the blueprint's discovery. A copy of the report, expected to be published later this week, was provided to The Washington Post.

The A.Q. Khan smuggling ring was previously known to have provided Libya with design information for a nuclear bomb. But the blueprints found in 2006 are far more troubling, Albright said in his report. While Libya was given plans for an older and relatively unsophisticated weapon that was bulky and difficult to deliver, the newly discovered blueprints offered instructions for building a compact device, the report said. The lethality of such a bomb would be little enhanced, but its smaller size might allow for delivery by ballistic missile.

"To many of these countries, it's all about size and weight," Albright said in an interview. "They need to be able to fit the device on the missiles they have."

The Swiss government acknowledged this month that it destroyed nuclear-related documents, including weapons-design details, under the direction of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to keep them from falling into terrorists' hands. However, it has not been previously reported that the documents included hundreds of pages of specifications for a second, more advanced nuclear bomb.

"These would have been ideal for two of Khan's other major customers, Iran and North Korea," wrote Albright, now president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "They both faced struggles in building a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop their ballistic missiles, and these designs were for a warhead that would fit."

It is unknown whether the designs were delivered to either country, or to anyone else, Albright said.

The Pakistani government did not rebut the findings in the report but said it had cooperated extensively with U.N. investigators. "The government of Pakistan has adequately investigated allegations of nuclear proliferation by A.Q. Khan and shared the information with IAEA," Nadeem Kiani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said yesterday. "It considers the A.Q. Khan affair to be over."

A CIA official, informed of the essential details of Albright's report, said the agency would not comment because of the extreme diplomatic and security sensitivities of the matter. In his 2007 memoir, former CIA director George Tenet acknowledged the agency's extensive involvement in tracking the Khan network over more than a decade.

Albright, a former IAEA inspector in Iraq, has published detailed analyses of the nuclear programs of numerous states, including Iran and North Korea. His institute was the first to publicly identify the location of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli warplanes last September.

A design for a compact, missile-ready nuclear weapon could help an aspiring nuclear power overcome a major technical hurdle and vastly increase its options for delivery of a nuclear explosive. Such a design could theoretically help North Korea -- which detonated a nuclear device in a 2006 test -- to couple a nuclear warhead with its Nodong missile, which has a proven range of 1,300 kilometers (about 800 miles).

Iran also possesses medium-range ballistic missiles and is believed by U.S. government officials to be seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons in the future, although an assessment late last year by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Weapons experts have long puzzled over whether Tehran might have previously acquired a weapons design from the Khan network, which sold the Iranian government numerous other nuclear-related items, including designs for uranium-enrichment equipment.

The computers that contained the drawings were owned by three members of the Tinner family -- brothers Marco and Urs and their father, Friedrich -- all Swiss businessmen who have been identified by U.S. and IAEA officials as key participants in Khan's nuclear black market. The smuggling ring operated from the mid-1980s until 2003, when it was exposed after a years-long probe by the U.S. and British intelligence agencies.

Khan, who apologized for his role in the smuggling network in a 2004 speech broadcast in Pakistan, was officially pardoned by President Pervez Musharraf without being formally charged with crimes. The Tinner brothers are in Swiss prisons awaiting trial on charges related to their alleged involvement in the network. They and their father are the focus of an ongoing probe by Swiss authorities, who discovered the blueprints while exploring the heavily encrypted contents of the Tinners' computers, the report said. Several published reports have asserted that Urs Tinner became an informant for U.S. intelligence before the breakup of the smuggling ring, but that has not been officially confirmed.

Switzerland shared the finding with the IAEA as well as the United States, which asked for copies of the blueprints, the report states. The IAEA has acknowledged that it oversaw the destruction of nuclear-design material by Swiss authorities in November 2007. However, IAEA officials would neither confirm nor deny the existence of a second weapons design or comment on Albright's report.

Albright, citing information provided by IAEA investigators, said the designs were similar to that of a nuclear device built by Pakistan. He contends in the report that IAEA officials confronted Pakistan's government shortly after the discovery, adding that the private reaction of government officials was astonishment. The Pakistanis "were genuinely shocked; Khan may have transferred his own country's most secret and dangerous information to foreign smugglers so that they could sell it for a profit," Albright said, relating a description of the encounter given to him by IAEA officials.

Pakistan has previously denied that Khan stole the country's weapons plans. Musharraf has not allowed IAEA experts to interview Khan, an engineer who is regarded as a national hero for his role in establishing Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan, in interviews last month with The Post and several other publications, asserted that the allegations of nuclear smuggling were false.

Albright said it remains critical that investigators press Khan and others for details about how the blueprints were obtained and who might have them. Because the plans were stored electronically, they may have been copied many times, he said.
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« Reply #274 on: June 18, 2008, 09:17:32 AM »

People Sick from Suspicious Package At Las Vegas Casino
Updated: June 18, 2008 12:16 AM

Several people are being treated after a suspicious package made them sick. It happened at Red Rock Hotel and Casino in northwest Las Vegas.

Metro Police officials say just after 7 p.m., casino security found a pillowcase in the garage. They said an unusually order was coming from the pillowcase, so they took it into the security office. Once it was inside, about five employees started feeling sick. Their symptoms included sweating and headaches.

Metro officials say they don't believe the illness is life threatening so everyone will be treated on the scene. Officials from the Clark County Fire Department and Metro officials have gone into the garage and are investigating.

"We have a team going inside to determine what's in that package at this time," said Metro Officer Jose Montoya.

Metro officials say the casino is operating as normally, but they will be taking a look at surveillance video to determine who left that package. No one is allowed in the garage to get their cars until officials can determine what's in that pillowcase.
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« Reply #275 on: June 18, 2008, 09:24:51 AM »

A couple point on the above story:

1. Vegas is a "top tier" target for jihad terrorism, domestic terror and all sorts of weird stuff that seems to drift into the city. Casino security should be much better trained than this.

2. If you see something, immediately say something to 911. Strange items emitting odors, possible WMD or IEDs, get lots of distance between you and it and report it. Do not touch, tamper or certainly don't take it from an outdoor location to a enclosed, populated one.

3. Cameras are important investigative tools, right Crafty?   wink
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« Reply #276 on: June 20, 2008, 08:10:26 PM »

Intelligence Officials: Dozens of Europeans Have Trained in Terror Camps in Pakistan
Officials Fear This May be the Beginnings of a New Breed of al-Qaeda-Affiliated Terrorism

June 20, 2008—

Dozens of white Europeans have trained in terrorist camps in Pakistan's tribal regions in recent months, U.S. intelligence sources tell ABC News, in what officials fear may be the beginnings of a new breed of al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorism.

Government officials suspect the terrorists, recruited in Europe, have been dispatched to plan attacks against Europe and possibly the United States. The alleged terrorists hail from Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Romania and Estonia, sources said.

There is growing evidence that some European recruits may have already gone operational. Two of the suspects arrested in a September 2007 plot to kill American soldiers in Germany were native Germans, and U.S. officials say they are investigating whether they were trained in Pakistan.

An April 2008 report from Europol also noted that an increasing number of European nationals attended training in Pakistan "and were later involved in, or suspected of, terrorist offences in the EU."

Intelligence officials say the remote tribal areas along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan have in the last several years become a haven for terrorist recruiting and training. Hundreds of radicals from across the region have flocked to al-Qaeda training camps in the area.

In interviews with ABC News and in a series of little-noticed public statements and reports, intelligence officials have said they believe al-Qaeda has successfully completed a major goal: recruiting and training Western would-be terrorists.

"Al-Qa'ida is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.: the identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack in the Homeland," according to a February Threat Assessment report from the Director of National Intelligence.

"[W]e have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal area since mid-2006," the report said.

Those Western recruits are thought to be more difficult to detect and able to easily enter Europe and the U.S. and blend in with Western culture.

"They're recruiting operatives from Europe. Why? If you're from Europe, it doesn't require a visa to fly to the United States," Mike McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, said in a speech in March.

"So if you can get a disgruntled person in Europe to come to Pakistan to be trained in how to buy something commercially -- hydrogen peroxide -- [and] use it in a particular way, you could have mass casualties in the United States greater than 9/11," he said.

CIA Director Michael Hayden, in a speech in April, said the recruits "wouldn't cause you any concern or draw your attention if they were in the passport line at Dulles with you. I mean, they look Western and they fit in. So that's one, the continued intent to attack, training to attack, using Western operatives."

Despite these public warnings, members of Congress, including Republicans, say they are frustrated that the Bush administration and Pakistan have not done more to shut down the camps.

"The result that we have today is not acceptable," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. "You can't have those camps in place in Pakistan."

Intelligence officials tell ABC News that the administration is trying to target key al-Qaeda leaders in the tribal regions with Predator airplane attacks and recently killed one leader who helped coordinate European operatives.

The U.S. has also urged the Pakistani government to be aggressive in pursuing terrorist leaders in the tribal areas, these sources said.

The Pakistani government has said it is committed to stopping militants in the area.
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« Reply #277 on: June 23, 2008, 10:33:54 AM »

Inside TSOC.
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« Reply #278 on: June 23, 2008, 11:34:45 AM »


I always worry that the content of URLs disappear some day if someone would like to go back and check it out.  Would you mind posting the entire piece, and simply have the URL as a citiation?

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« Reply #279 on: June 24, 2008, 11:26:01 AM »

The Flight Watchmen
Nearly seven years after 9/11, Americans may feel like safe is normal again. But, to the counterterrorism experts who scour the nation's airspace, safety is hard-earned every minute of every day
By Laura Blumenfeld
Sunday, June 22, 2008; W10

0645 Hours: Peanut Butter and jelly, or ham and cheese?

Chan Browne is standing in his girlfriend's kitchen, making a sandwich for his girlfriend's daughter's lunch. He wants to get it right. Strawberry jelly, not grape, creamy peanut butter, not crunchy, spread thin, not thick, on wheat bread, not Italian, cut in rectangles, not triangles. The crusts are trimmed.

It is dark out still, but Chan's girlfriend, Kathy, has left for work. Chan, a thickly built federal air marshal from Alabama, an expert marksman wearing flip-flops and jeans, picks up a pen: Jamie, Have a good day. Do well in school and mind your manners. Mom and Chan. He folds the note and closes the 7-year-old's Hannah Montana lunchbox. He hopes it's good enough. He hopes he's good enough. He opens the lunchbox and adds Oreos.

For Chan, it has been nine months of second-guessing, of tucking in his shirt, of checking his tie, nine months of dating Kathy White. He has dated pretty women before. In high school he went out with the entire cheerleading team, one set of pom-poms at a time. But his enchantment with Kathy is unlike anything he's known, more exciting than her spark-red hair, more soothing than her Irish cream skin. When she walks into the room, his palms sweat.

Chan first saw Kathy three years ago at work, rushing past him in the hall. At the Freedom Center, a counterterrorism compound in Northern Virginia where Chan is an assistant special agent in charge, the employees always seem to rush. They hurry from the Huddle Room to the Emergency Conference Room, to the coffee refill room, to the Pentagon rubble memorial of 9/11 at the entrance, to the signs on the double door -- "Restricted Area," "Authorized Personnel Only" -- leading to the Watch Floor.

It is here that the officers stand watch round-the-clock with one assignment: Stop another 9/11.

From the time Kathy blurred past Chan until their first drink, two years had gone by. "It was boy sees girl. Boy wants to ask girl out. Boy's too nervous and doesn't," Chan recalls. He felt thrown by her, tumbling back to adolescence. Once, he wandered back to her office, pretending to look for a file. He had planned to ask for a date. When she looked up at him, though, with those clear, blue-sky eyes, he froze. "I almost felt like writing her a note: 'I like you. Do you like me? If so, check yes.' " But Chan is 44 now, achy-kneed, balding and divorced, his days and nights punctuated by the vibrations of a BlackBerry issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

Standing in Kathy's kitchen at dawn in Charles Town, W.Va., glancing at his BlackBerry on the counter, enveloped by the aroma of Jamie's toasting cinnamon Pop-Tart, he thinks about how much harder it is to fall in love a second time.

"You've got all the knowledge of your past failures," he says. You're always on alert. When the first time ends in disaster, the second time you have to do everything right.

Chan's BlackBerry begins to dance, vibrating across the counter. Something is wrong.

0650 Hours: Improper Selectee Screening at Chippewa (CIU)

On a runway at Chippewa County International Airport in northern Michigan, on Mesaba Airlines Flight 3042 to Detroit, a man is sitting in seat 4C, waiting for takeoff. He shouldn't have been allowed on the plane.

The man is a selectee, a person flagged by the government as one who might pose "a direct threat to U.S. civil aviation," according to Greg Alter, a DHS spokesman. The selectee's boarding pass had been printed with a special mark. At the checkpoint, a guard was supposed to divert the man for additional screening. The guard missed the mark.

For Chan and the others who work the Watch Floor, the passenger at Chippewa in 4C triggers the first adrenaline uptick of the day. Chan is at home, about to wake Jamie, who is snuggled upstairs with her yellow blanky. Chan's shift doesn't begin until 2 p.m., but he is tracking alerts and incidents on his BlackBerry because in a few hours they will be his.

Every security breach across eight modes of transportation collects and dumps on the Watch Floor. The unmarked building, originally called the Transportation Security Operations Center, opened in August 2003. It responds to threats to mass transit, bridges, railways, vehicles and roads, pipelines, postal and cargo shipping, maritime matters and ports, and, above all, aviation. One minute, a report comes in about a mysterious truck abandoned on railroad tracks in Delaware. The next, a note is discovered on a ferry in North Carolina: There are bombs on this boat. Do not run. Only a warning. The next, a 78-year-old Egyptian woman in a wheelchair is trying to board a plane from Nashville to JFK with $9,800 in cash and eight boxes of razor blades in her bra.

"You treat every incident, like --" says Chan's boss, Kent Jefferies, bracketing his eyes as if his hands were blinders on a horse, "-- is this the next 9/11? No? Good. Move on."

One lesson of al-Qaeda's simultaneous strikes in 2001 is the importance of communication. Though run by DHS, the Watch Floor houses representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Secret Service, Capitol Police, FBI and FAA. Data from more than 450 federalized airports and 19,000 general aviation airfields feed into the Watch Floor. Analysts try to connect seemingly unrelated -- and unusual -- events as they unfold across the country, to spot trends, to stop an emerging attack. In the fall of 2005, for example, over the course of two weeks, passengers on three different flights stood up in the aisles and fainted. Was it a probe? Were terrorists testing emergency preparedness on airplanes, or were the serial faintings a coincidence?

"You always hope it's going on somewhere, that the military is talking to the FAA, is talking to law enforcement, is talking to the airlines," says Alter. "You hope somehow, some way, those folks are talking, in case something goes bad."

If things do go bad, or at least seem to, men in Air Force uniforms take action. "We're scrambling now!" an officer said on a recent afternoon, running across the Watch Floor. Scrambling fighter jets. The classified radar had picked up an unidentified Cessna in restricted airspace over Washington. As Fox News reported the evacuation of the North Lawn at the White House and broadcast a live shot of people spilling out of the Capitol, a pair of F-16s roared toward the errant Cessna

"We are not sentries. It's more activist than that," says Kip Hawley, administrator of DHS's Transportation Security Administration, which manages the center. "Our job is not to sit and watch, but to stand and fight."

Over his 13 months in the job, Chan has developed a sense about the threats, when they're routine blunders or world-class crazies, and when they might be real. At Chippewa, a flight attendant escorted the selectee out of seat 4C, for additional screening. The guard who missed the special selectee mark spent the rest of his shift in remedial training. TSA at Chippewa reported: "There was no media attention." And on this quiet Tuesday, Chan isn't alarmed. Not yet, anyway. His biggest concern at 8:30 a.m., is getting Kathy's daughter to the bus on time.

"How's your day going to go?" he asks Jamie as they hurry along.

Chan is never sure. Kathy, a former travel agent who now makes reservations for air marshals, is the optimist. Chan has "a doomsday outlook," he says. "There's an underlying, unknown anxiety and stress in those of us who deal with terrorist threats. We know we're getting farther away from 9/11 and closer and closer to the next attack. It's only a matter of time." When Chan sends Kathy's

7-year-old girl out into the world, he worries.

At the bus stop, Jamie is the last kid in line. She steps up, and right before she disappears through the bus door, she always turns around. Chan looks at her: the sandy hair he has brushed and smoothed back with Jamie's favorite lime green headband, the freckles across her nose, the blue eyes. Chan waves. He calls it "that last reassurance wave."

He gives it to her every day.

0847 Hours: Passenger Arrested After Firearm Detected During Checkpoint Screening at Memphis (MEM)

Ready. Set. Jet. That is ExpressJet Airline's motto. Not for one passenger, though, on this sunny Memphis morning. The man tries to board Flight 2704 to Houston Intercontinental carrying a .32-caliber Kel Tec pistol loaded with seven rounds -- one chambered. He says that he "forgot the firearm was in his bag."

Every day, on average, American airport screeners find two guns.

As the Memphis police descend on the passenger with the pistol, Chan is changing into sweatpants in Kathy's bedroom. "Normal business," Chan thinks, clicking the "FIREARM DETECTED (MEM)" message on his BlackBerry. He laces up his sneakers and goes out for a run before his eight-hour shift, "to bleed-off the pent-up anxiety and work frustration." He jogs up and down the hills of Charles Town, searching the sky for the cottony contrail ribbons that unspool from aircraft. As much as aviation bedevils him, Chan loves airplanes.

He was born in a two-room hospital in Alabama, to a petite saleswoman and to a farmer he never met, and never could conjure beyond "a shadow on a tractor." Chan's stepfather, a 6-foot-3 slab of man, helped raise him, urging Chan to follow his example and excel at football. Chan drank a gallon of milk a day; he prayed each night he'd wake up six inches taller. But the slight, blond boy with light moss eyes never cleared 5-8.

That left airplanes. "It was another way to keep the bond with my stepfather," Chan recalls.

Chan's stepfather would park for hours near the end of the runway at the local airfield. "It always bewildered me, that these heavy airplanes can stay airborne," Chan says. "It's an amazing puzzle." Chan sat on the hood of their 1968 yellow Dodge Coronet, eating bags of roasted peanuts, as his stepfather pointed out the jets and the propellers.

"You'd feel the roar in your whole body," Chan recalls. "It wasn't frightening. It was comforting." Sometimes it rained. But Chan felt happy as he imagined the planes navigating the same wet winds that nipped his chin and fingers. He felt, he says, "connected. I thought: 'I belong in that. I'm connected to that. I belong in that airplane.' "

Chan became an Air Force air traffic controller. At age 19, his commander nominated him for the Air Force Academy preparatory school, a step toward his dream of pilot training. But Chan had met a woman in the Air Force. The academy accepted only prospective cadets who were single. Forced to choose, he pursued married life instead of his wings. In 1984, as a controller, he was honored by the Air Force Association as one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the year, for his "superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements." Up in the control tower, where Chan rose to supervisor, he felt "wonderment that you could talk to the planes, having that connectivity through the radio." He enrolled in the FAA's air traffic academy and was assigned to Forth Worth.

Then his marriage of 10 years began to fail. So did his performance in the control tower.

The personal turmoil distracted him. "I couldn't memorize the airspace and what altitude restrictions apply," Chan recalls. Soon he found himself divorced and out of a job.

Chan shambled back, defeated, humiliated, to Alabama where he worked for the state police. It took 9/11, eight years later, to bring him back to the skies. He applied for a job as a federal air marshal. Flying under cover, he told fellow travelers he was in "mortuary affairs"; they looked at him and believed it.

Last year, Chan was promoted to a supervisory position on the Watch Floor. Every day, when he crosses the lobby at work, a twisted steel girder salvaged from the 72nd floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower reminds him of the cost of another failure.

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« Reply #280 on: June 24, 2008, 11:27:09 AM »

On this Tuesday morning, Chan finishes his run around the neighborhood, his shirt soaked, his breath short, his calves burning, his thoughts scrolling over incidents from the day before: a suspicious golf bag at the Savannah airport causes delays; a box cutter is found in Phoenix on a Southwest jet, wedged between seats 2F and 2E ... As stressful as being an air traffic controller had been, this job is more so.

Chan stops at Kathy's front door and looks up at the sky. At any given moment, 6,000 planes are soaring overhead, crisscrossing America. As a boy, even one -- airborne -- seemed like a miracle. As a man in midlife, Chan wrestles with the dread of even one going down.

"This is like a second life for me. I get a chance to make redemption for the mistakes I made," he says. "I get a do-over, so I can tell Kathy's daughter I did it right."

1125 Hours: Suspicious Selectees on Flight to Las Vegas (LAS)

... 1133 Hours: Disruptive Passenger on Flight Arrested at Philadelphia (PHL)

... 1204 Hours: Firearm Detected During Checkpoint Screening at Birmingham (BHM)

... 1225 Hours: Passenger Arrested After Behavior Detection Officer Referral at Minneapolis (MSP)

Chan takes a quick shower -- "I don't have any hair to wash" -- while his BlackBerry vibrates on Kathy's television stand.

In Northern Virginia, meanwhile, at the Freedom Center, Chan's boss, Kent Jefferies, rises from his desk.

"Excuse me, Kent," Bruce Brown says, poking his head through the door. "Anomalous radar target coming up the Potomac."

Bruce is the division chief for the National Capital Region Coordination Center, which monitors the airspace over Washington. The NCRCC staff, including a liaison to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) wearing an Air Force flight suit, occupies a pod on the Watch Floor. The men stare at radar feeds on three giant screens from the FAA, DOD and DHS. They scrutinize the green, glowing rings for incursions into the forbidden circle. Every month, there are 20 to 30.

Kent considers Bruce's report. A pair of Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopters swept the area; the pilots found nothing. Still, supervisors at the White House are raising their vigilance to "condition yellow."

"Sometimes computers do weird things," Kent says, spinning the wedding ring on his finger, as his thoughts go round.

"Do we want to put out a page?" Bruce asks. A notification page alerts TSA officials.

"No. You could start a war 'cause you're reading it on your BlackBerry and get only half of it -- 'radar anomaly,' " Kent says. "A lot of times, it's a flock of birds."

Kent is the iceman of the Watch Floor. As the special agent in charge, his blood pumps slower, and chillier, than the shift workers he oversees. "The folks on watch are on and off. I am never off, so I have a higher threshold," Kent says, confident. "I'm supposed to be that person, a step back from the action."

Stepped back, and yet Kent is always there. At home on a recent Saturday, he was on an emergency conference call for so many hours that he switched to speakerphone and painted his teenage daughter's bedroom. When the phone rang on Christmas Eve, he recalls with a laugh, "my wife said, 'If you answer that, I'll divorce you.' " He answered.

Kent is a former Secret Service agent who drove Amy Carter to school, jogged with George H.W. Bush ("That man was as cool as a cucumber; he could shower and stop sweating and be dressed in five minutes. He always beat us."), and trailed Ronald Reagan horseback riding ("In Santa Barbara, he wanted male company. He said, 'Nancy's talking to Patti, and I can't get a word in edgewise.' "). At 52, Kent looks like a paunchier version, with reading glasses, of one of his Secret Service nicknames: Ken Doll.

"I've been 'doing' bad guys for 34 years," says Kent, who can still drive -- hands free -- with his left knee, though he is no longer limber enough to make turns. When his daughter calls him at work, he answers, "Hi, I'm saving the world!" On this Tuesday morning, Kent strides tall, tight and precise out of his office, toward the Watch Floor.

"Bad guys want to launch multiple attacks," Kent says, while walking. "I'm looking for a second or third incident, to tie it together, to link things." Kent looks up at a huge electronic map of the United States. "What are we tracking Delta 39 for?"

Three white flight lines cut across the map. One blip marked "AF2," is Air Force Two, the vice president's aircraft. Another digital white line indicates the path of "suspicious selectees," members of a swim team flying to Las Vegas. The airplane in question is "DL39."

Has the pilot "gone Nordo," short for no radio contact? A common occurrence, and yet each time -- keeping in mind 9/11 -- the watchmen rip though a checklist: Cockpit secure? VIPs on board? Air marshals? Hazardous cargo? Size and weight of the plane? Screening anomalies at airport of origin?

"Delta 39 --" says the command duty officer. "Drunk passenger, making passes at flight attendants."

"Oh, geez," Kent says, noting the flight path over the Atlantic. "From England?"

"Hamburg, Germany."

The bawdy traveler, in Watch Floor parlance, is a "disruptive passenger." On this day, another disruptive passenger, a man with leg cramps in an aisle seat flying to Philadelphia, threatens the crew. An all-time favorite disruption: a young woman on her way to a party in Fort Lauderdale who burst out of the lavatory naked and ran down the aisle.

"You always think the disruptive passenger is a diversion, 'cause you don't know how many bad guys he's traveling with," says Paul Ross, a former USAirways pilot, who works on the Watch Floor. The man flying to Tucson who refuses to lower the volume on his laptop? He is possibly, in the eyes of the watchmen, a mass-murdering terrorist.

Passengers creating diversions to hijack an airplane is one scenario that Chan plays out in his head as he gets ready for work. Chan likes to test himself, a mental exercise he calls "the pregame warmup."

"We cannot be wrong. We have to be right," is Chan's grave cheer.

At Kathy's house, Chan towels off and walks into her closet where for five months now, he has been keeping his things, and where he hopes, against the odds, they are here to stay. Chan hadn't dated for 14 years. And Kathy has, as she puts it, "trust issues ... a hard exterior" from a marriage to a high school sweetheart, by whom she felt betrayed.

Along came Chan, who ran out of gas on their first date, who wore a visor and burned his scalp on their second date, who tried to propose at a recent dinner at Olives in Washington but got so nervous that he dropped his keys, his fork, his water glass and his money clip, sending him crawling and groping under another table.

"You're a mess," Kathy had said.

"All along, I'm thinking, 'I'm going to mess this up,' " Chan recalls. "This is my second chance. Actually, my only chance, at love."

In Kathy's closet, Chan passes her clothes on the way to his. They comfort him. Kathy's gray business suits, her tennis dress, the rust-orange blouse she wears with his favorite brown slacks. He buries his face in her blouse and inhales. He smells coconut lotion, and Kathy.

Chan knots his tie, gets into his car. Hypothetical threats unfold in his mind as he drives. He checks his BlackBerry: A firearm is confiscated in Birmingham; a suspicious man with no travel documents in Minneapolis says he is "hanging around the airport ... wanted to leave the country, but was unable to decide where." A background check reveals that the man is wanted for assault in Chicago.

We cannot be wrong. We have to be right.

Scenarios, real and imagined, diverge, veer off and circle back to the same shaky place:

What would I do in a crisis?
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« Reply #281 on: June 24, 2008, 11:30:21 AM »

1425 Hours: Suspicious Passenger at Charlotte (CLT)

... 1442 Hours: Passenger Arrested After Travel Document Checker Referral at Miami (MIA)

At the Freedom Center, Chan rolls past a guard, the concrete abutments and a black metal fence, trimmed with three rows of barbed wire. Inside, he buzzes himself beyond the "SECRET" sign. Kathy works in another room, but Chan isn't thinking about love just now. His eyes tighten. The Watch Floor hums, windowless and dim, high-ceilinged and air-conditioned in a haze of radiant heat. Along one wall, digital clocks glow red, ticking in 10 time zones.

Kent's deputy, Andrew Hosey, sums up the day: "Vanilla."

Chan knocks wood.

The law enforcement databases keep logging off, idle. The air smells of microwaved popcorn. Kent teases Chan's partner, command duty officer Chuck Phucas, who is scanning "Hey, Chuck, what's the matter, nothing going on?"

"Nothing," says Chuck, a retired Marine. Chuck has 26 guns in his basement, forearms as thick as thighs and a 105-pound Rottweiler he loves because "I don't want a rug rat that's good for 30 yards, if you kick 'em right." Every night, as Chuck leaves work, he calls his wife because "who knows who's watching the building?" They have a code word, "in case there's trouble. If I use 'cupcake,' she calls the police."

Chuck had served as a master sergeant in counterintelligence. "We're still fighting the same fight," says Chuck, who is about to turn 50. "We stand in the breach." No one will hurt Americans, "not on my watch, not while I'm standing here."

Chuck is sitting in a polo shirt in front of seven phones with speed-dial buttons to every commercial airline, the White House Situation Room, the Coast Guard Operations Center and the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon.

Chan settles in beside Chuck at the head of the pod. Chan runs the research and law enforcement side. Chuck receives incoming reports and speaks for the Watch Floor on the Domestic Events Network, an interagency, perpetual conference call with the FAA.

It is quiet. "Too quiet," says their boss, Kent, hovering behind them.

Then, a call comes in from USAirways, area code 704. A passenger on Flight 1736, Charlotte to Indianapolis, said he saw a weapon on another passenger.

"I checked him," says Mike Jimenez, hurrying over to Chan with a notepad. Mike, an investigator with the fastest fingers on the Watch Floor, says he often has two minutes -- no more -- to determine if a person is an immediate threat. "He's on a watch list for terrorists. Short, 55, 170 pounds, possibly Muslim."

The profile fits a potential threat, except for one thing. The man on the watch list, Mike says, is, "the man who said he saw the weapon."

Chan stands up. Chuck does, too.

"What kind of weapon?" Kent says. "Hand grenade? Knife? Gun?"

"The butt of a gun," says Chuck, who is getting details from a watch officer. "In a passenger's pocket."

The air traffic controllers had released the plane for takeoff. "They let the bird go," says Chuck. He tells an officer: "Put it up on the tracking board."

USAirways 1736 blips white across the computerized U.S. map. A systems search reveals that the pilot is armed. Ground agents in Charlotte had screened the two passengers, but, even so, Chan's officer calls the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force to meet the plane at the gate when it lands in Indianapolis. Mike, Chan's investigator, gulps water from a Deer Park gallon bottle, as he scours government, law enforcement and commercial databases for clues.

Then, a call comes in from a TSA official, area code 305. "A man ran away at a checkpoint," Chuck says, relaying the notes from the officer who took the call.

"Where?" says Kent.


"Probably an illegal immigrant," says Kent.

"He bolted."

"That doesn't excite me," says Kent. "We've had people bolt away cause they can't take their $40 lip gloss. My daughter said, 'Dad can't you do anything about the lip-gloss rule?' "

"He was tackled by law enforcement," says Chuck.

"Oh, they tackled him?" Kent grimaces and smiles. "That's hard on the knees."

"He was Lebanese."

"What?" says Kent.

"Lebanese! Lebanese!" Chuck cracks his knuckles.

"How do you know?" Kent says, stepping back. A recent intelligence brief had highlighted the Lebanese group Hezbollah, noting: "Tactics include hijacking commercial aircraft and in-transit ambushes."

In Miami, the Lebanese man had presented a fake U.S. passport with a Hispanic name. The guard was suspicious and referred him to secondary screening. When the secondary screener reached for the man's bag, the suspect snatched his passport and ran.

"Create a file, mark it 'hot,' " Chuck says.

"We have two things now," Kent says, ever cool: a passenger in Charlotte who says he sees a gun; a passenger in Miami who flees. Are they related?

"Start a white board," says Chuck.

An officer named Lee starts typing, black letters crawling across a large white screen at the front of the room: "MIAMI SUSPICIOUS LEBANESE PASSENGER, CHECKPOINT/SECONDARY SCREENING. HE DISAPPEARED --"

"Hey, Lee!" Chuck barks. "He didn't 'disappear.' They tackled him! He left behind a bag."

As partners, Chuck and Chan know each other's tension ticks. Chuck gets loud; Chan gets quiet. Chuck slashes the air with his powerful arms, pointing. Chan paces like he's "on a dog run."

The two men are starting to slash and pace.

Chan's investigator, Mike, pulls up a picture of the 42-year-old suspect online, along with his real passport from Lebanon. He discovers in a commercial database that the suspect had bought his American Airlines ticket as well as tickets for two other men. Like him, the two men were flying from Miami to Los Angeles that afternoon, though, notably, on a different airplane.

Chan's agent pulls up a diagram of the Miami airport. Something about the police chase bothers Chan. The Lebanese man had fled the terminal, dashed outside. As the Miami-Dade County Police approached him, the man jumped from a second-story parking ramp. He hit the pavement and shattered his arm. Yet even with a broken limb, the suspect continued to struggle.

"Why jump?" Chan wonders. "Why so extreme?" He'd seen a lot before, but "we never have people running away." Abandon a bag? Leap off a ramp?

Chan says to an agent, "Send out an alert notification page."

The agent begins to type: MIA suspicious male pax ran from ckpt . . .

The text message blasts out to all American airports, federal air marshals, TSA employees and federal security directors, in case -- though very unlikely -- something similar is happening, somewhere.
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« Reply #282 on: June 24, 2008, 11:32:14 AM »

1510 Hours : Passenger Arrested After Behavior Detection Officer Referral at Los Angeles (LAX)

"The exact situation just happened in L.A.," says Andrew, Kent's deputy, pulling Kent aside. "A passenger took off."

Fifteen minutes had passed since the Lebanese man in Miami had fled. Now, a man in Los Angeles had been referred to secondary screening for suspicious behavior. The man dropped his bag on the X-ray conveyor belt and ran.

The tiniest of frown lines pinches Kent's brow. "Was he Lebanese?

"Jeanne Meserve is going to go live on CNN about it."

"Was he Lebanese?" Kent's frown line deepens.

On the white board at the front of the room, the incident unscrolls: LOS ANGELES LAX SUSPICIOUS PASSENGER IN TERMINAL 1 CHECKPOINT . . .

"Was he Lebanese or not?" Kent asks.

"I don't know," says Andrew. "See if he has grape leaves."

Chan orders another blast notification page, this time about L.A. In his mind, he is "bleeding between Code Orange and Red." Security directors from Newark, Connecticut and airports across the East Coast bombard the Freedom Center with questions. At La Guardia Airport in New York City, TSA employee Robert DeFrancesco, fires off an e-mail:

What about Miami, is there a connection?HuhHuh

Kent, whose motto is "connect the dots," contemplates this: "Major airports on either coast, large aircraft like 9/11. Is it a probe, or is this an actual attack?"

"Get back on the phone with L.A.," Chuck orders the officer who took the L.A. report. Chuck's tremendous hands are flying. He stuffs them into his pockets so he doesn't accidentally whack someone. "Don't let them off the phone till I say so. Tell L.A. we want to compare facts: If he's a hundred-year-old Chinaman or a 12-year-old Mexican, we can take a step back."

Chan's investigator, Mike, clatters away at nine systems on five screens, racing to link the men in Miami and L.A.: Warrants? Border crossings? Did they share a PO box? Rent an apartment together? Mike's face turns warm. Then it gets hot. The Miami man has a fake California driver's license. Mike presses his cold Deer Park bottle to his burning cheek and forehead.

Kent's supervisor, Don Zimmerman, is called, who in turn -- "a few hairs up on the back of my neck" -- calls his supervisor at TSA headquarters in Arlington. Deputy administrator Gale Rossides looks at her caller ID: "URGENT-DonZ."

She steps out of a meeting.

"We have a situation here," Don tells her. "Actually, it's two situations."

On the Watch Floor, the usual murmur is gone. Chan has stopped pacing; he has to take a breath. With "two, simultaneous, 9/11-like activities" going on, he needs a few seconds to focus. "Don't overreact. Don't underreact," Chan tells himself. He doesn't want his agents to see him scared.

But when Chan looks up at the electronic U.S. map, at the Charlotte-to-Indianapolis flight pulsing across state lines, he thinks that armed terrorists might be on board, that the checkpoint running might be a diversion, that the terrorists have companions on other flights, and that any minute the entire map could light up with tiny, white planes.

It's like that dream Chan sometimes has: "I've been at work. It's faded and foggy. It's like you're a cop and in a foot chase. You never catch the guy. You're making all the right calls. Despite all your efforts, it's the realization that something bad is going to happen. And it drops off, like you're falling off the bed."

As Chan stands on the Watch Floor, he feels that same sinking in his stomach. The words flash through his mind, "Here we go again." The terrorist attack he expected. Then another flash: his past shortcomings and failures.

But seared in deep, beneath those fears, behind his own history, burn the faces of the 19 hijackers. He can see them, their eyes, their gaze, mental sketches of the men of 9/11: "three rows of five, and one row of four people. The steadfast, committed-to-their-mission look. Stoic, deliberate and tuned into their job."

Chan has seen that look before, that look of dedication -- in American police officers in uniform. And in him.

If there is going to be another strike, a second chance, "I hope it's me that gets to deal with it."

Chan takes a breath and tells one of his agents, Denny Spencer, in a calm, authoritative voice: "Alert all federal marshals transiting Miami and L.A."

Chan's next step would be to broadcast an emergency message to all air marshals in the United States and overseas; Chuck would dial into DOD's classified red-switch network to contact the U.S. Northern Command (Northcom) and NORAD.

"I'm on it," says Denny, catching the unwavering look in Chan's eyes. He flashes Chan a thumbs up.
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« Reply #283 on: June 24, 2008, 11:34:11 AM »

1516 Hours: Secure ID Violation at Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW)

. . . 1556 Hours: Explosive Detection Alarms at Los Angeles (LAX)

. . . 1653 Hours: Suspicious Individual at Newark (EWR)

. . . 1727 Hours: Suspicious Checked Baggage at John Wayne (SNA)

. . . 1924 Hours: Disruptive Passenger Atlanta (ATL)

. . . 2115 Hours: Passenger Arrested at Las Vegas (LAS)

"The guy in L.A. is a doper!" a voice calls from the Watch Floor.

"Where?" Chan says, turning to Denny. "Who are you talking to?"

"Los Angeles. The guy was nervous about flying, so he smoked pot," says Denny. "No apparent nexus to terrorism."

"Stand down!" Chan tells his officers.

The L.A. passenger was a 21-year-old African American. He had been smoking marijuana. It evidently made him paranoid.

Chan orders a text page: CLOSE OUT LAX; suspicious male pax arrested on charges of Public Intoxication and Fleeing a Checkpoint.

Chan takes another deep breath. So do his agents. The events in Miami and Los Angeles are not related.

As the afternoon dims into evening, Chan eats soup from a vending machine at his desk and calls Kathy at home. "We thought we had something today," he tells her. "How's Jamie?"

Chan's shift winds down with minor incidents in Dallas, Los Angeles, Newark, Santa Ana, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Earlier incidents close out. The Charlotte-Indianapolis passenger was not on a terrorist watch list after all. There had been an error in spelling his common Muslim name. He did, however, appear on a visitors list for a radical prisoner.

It took hours to resolve the case of the Lebanese man in Miami, who had leapt from the parking ramp and broken his arm. "That guy made me almost mess my pants today," Chuck says. "I'd throw him off the parking ramp myself."

Law enforcement officials pulled the Lebanese man's two companions off their flight and found 10 credit cards and three cashier's checks totaling more than $1 million. The carry-on bag the Lebanese man had abandoned contained cocaine.

He told police he fled because he was "having a bad day, and was nervous that he would miss his flight."

2336 Hours: Suspicious Individual in Custody at Santa Clara County (RHV)

Chan is listening to jazz instrumentals as he drives home in the dark. After eight hours of monitoring terrorism traffic, he doesn't want to hear any words. He reviews his day: "Did I call the right people? Get the right agents involved?"

It is 10:40 p.m. Up in the woods on Bull Run Mountain, in a small house on a gravel road, Chan's floor partner, Chuck, is already asleep, wearing his Marine medallion. Chuck will be on the Watch Floor again by sunrise. Before sinking into his dreams, Chuck cuddled with his Rottweiler and his wife, who share a king-size bed.

"Good night, Mom," Chuck said, to his wife.

"Good night, baby," Chuck said to the dog, who sleeps between them. Chuck pampers his pet even more since she's been diagnosed with lymphoma.

In the basement, hang Chuck's Marine uniforms: the dress blues, the green service alphas, the camouflage utilities. The closet is left open. Chuck tells people that being a Watch Floor command duty officer is like being a Marine, "same fight, different uniform." He tells himself, or tries to, that the work is satisfying: "Isn't that sad to say, at 50 you're washed up? Fortunately, we find a place we feel useful."

But then at night, when the truth seeps like vapors under his door, Chuck dreams that there's a national emergency. The Marines call him back into active duty, into real combat. He has the dream once a week; he's sorry to wake up.

"What's the dream?" Chuck says later. "That somebody needs you." Then Chuck stops talking, because he starts to cry. When he cries, sometimes, the Rottweiler licks his tears.

At 11 p.m., Chan's boss, Kent, is still awake, taking calls from the Watch Floor. Sitting in his family room, in his easy chair, feet up, all he wants to do is watch "Dancing With the Stars" and crash. But Kent answers the phone again and again, summoning his brisk, work voice: "Jefferies." It might be a call about the pilot who accidentally fired off a round in the cockpit. Or the three men on USAirways, kicking one another over a seat assignment. Or maybe it's the passenger who strapped a baby alligator to his leg and was caught when the screener saw his pants wiggle. (Kent: "It begs the question, which way was the alligator's head facing?")

Kent's response to the watchmen is always cool, but more than anyone, he absorbs the Floor's considerable heat. "Everyone wants to be the big boss, but it's not so great," Kent says. "Back in the day, I used to run with the president. I used to do a lot of things. I used to make fun of people like me." Now Kent has no time to exercise. Every quarter, he takes a government physical and a doctor checks his blood pressure, "to make sure I'm not going to croak."

During a break in the calls, Kent goes to bed. His dental night guard, he notices, is worn out. Since he's come to TSA, he has started clenching his jaws. He sometimes pulls back his lips, and examines the flat, black crack where his upper and lower bite meet. The iceman's teeth are ground even.

At 11:20 p.m., Chan drives up to Kathy's house. Inside, he checks on Jamie, who is sleeping on her back, holding her raggedy yellow blanky to her cheek.

"She has no idea," Chan thinks, looking at the little girl, "how drastic the world is." He closes Jamie's door carefully, trying not to disturb her.

When Chan opens Kathy's bedroom door, he is happy to see that she isn't asleep. Her red hair is spread out on her pillowcase. Her eyes are half-closed. She is wearing his aunt's antique diamond engagement ring.

"Are you serious?" Kathy had said last week, when Chan finally found the courage to propose.

Kathy had married young, been hurt hard and, after that, closed up. But an elderly man at the Freedom Center told her, "You deserve to have a nice guy to treat you right." After years of watching Chan bumble past, it occurred to her -- maybe the nice guy was Chan.

Now they would be married: Chan Browne and Kathy White. "We'll change our name to Tan," she joked.

"There actually is love," Chan said to her. "I'd stopped looking."

"I'd stopped looking," Kathy replied.

At 11:30 p.m., Chan lies down next to Kathy. He kisses her. He looks at her. He looks back at his day -- "Did I do everything right?" -- one last time. Then he falls asleep, at peace. Five minutes later, the BlackBerry on his bedside table vibrates.

A Secret Service agent in Santa Clara reports: A man in custody for theft and check fraud with possible "mental disabilities" said that in 2005, he took a flight from San Francisco to Dulles. He had planned to hijack the plane, and crash it into the White House.

Laura Blumenfeld is a Magazine staff writer. She can be reached at
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« Reply #284 on: July 03, 2008, 05:16:26 PM »

U.S. conviction upheld in FBI sting of NY Muslims
Wed Jul 2, 2008 3:45pm EDT

By Christine Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Iraqi Kurdish imam and a Bangladeshi-American pizzeria owner on Wednesday lost an appeal of their convictions for plotting to kill a Pakistani diplomat in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation.
The U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of Yassin Aref, 37, and Mohammed Hossain, 53, who were sentenced last year to 15 years each in prison for their roles in a fake plot to attack the Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations in New York with a missile.
Both appealed their convictions of money-laundering and conspiring to provide material support to the Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
The federal appeals court rejected all the defense's arguments, including that the men did not know missiles were involved.
"The evidence sufficed for a jury to conclude that Aref intended to aid in preparing a missile attack on American soil," the ruling said, concluding the same for Hossain.
During the 2006 trial, the two were found to have laundered $50,000 from an FBI informant who said he worked for the militant group.
Aref, who came to the United States as a refugee, was the imam of an Albany mosque when he was arrested in August 2004. Hossain is a naturalized U.S. citizen.
In a separate ruling, the appeals court dismissed arguments from defense lawyers and the New York Civil Liberties Union that the lower court had improperly denied it access to classified information and sealed court papers and orders.

The NYCLU's request for the wiretapping evidence followed a New York Times report citing the case as an example of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program.
During the trial, Aref alleged Muslims were unfairly branded as terrorists in the United States. Defense lawyers argued the men were victims of post-September 11 racial profiling.
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« Reply #285 on: July 05, 2008, 04:04:25 PM »


FBI may begin racial profiling to fight terror
Related article: Ariz. cops ask suspects about immigration status
By Lara Jakes
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department is considering letting the FBI investigate Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing, relying instead on a terrorist profile that could single out Muslims, Arabs or other racial and ethnic groups.

Law-enforcement officials say the proposed policy would help them do exactly what Congress demanded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: root out terrorists before they strike.
Although President Bush has disavowed targeting suspects based on their race or ethnicity, the new rules would allow the FBI to consider those factors among a number of traits that could trigger a national-security investigation.

Currently, FBI agents need specific reasons, like evidence or allegations that a law probably has been violated, to investigate U.S. citizens and legal residents. The new policy, officials said, would let agents open preliminary investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that were deemed suspicious.

Among the factors that could make someone subject of an investigation is travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity, access to weapons or military training, along with the person's race or ethnicity.

More than a half-dozen senior FBI, Justice Department and other U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the new policy agreed to discuss it only on condition of anonymity, either because they were not allowed to speak publicly or because the change is not yet final.
The change, which is expected later this summer, is part of an update of Justice Department policies known as the attorney general guidelines. They are being overhauled amid the FBI's transition from a traditional crime-fighting agency to one whose top mission is to protect America from terrorist attacks.

"We don't know what we don't know. And the object is to cut down on that," said one FBI official, who defended the plans.

Another official, while also defending the proposed guidelines, raised concerns about criticism during the presidential-election year over what he called "the P word": profiling.
Critics say the presumption of innocence is lost in the proposal. The FBI will be allowed to begin investigations simply "by assuming that everyone's a suspect, and then you weed out the innocent," said Caroline Fredrickson of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey acknowledged the overhaul was under way in early June, saying the guidelines sought to ensure that regulations for FBI terror investigations don't conflict with ones governing criminal inquiries. He would not give any details.
"It's necessary to put in place regulations that will allow the FBI to transform itself ... into an intelligence-gathering organization in addition to just a crime-solving organization," Mukasey told reporters.

The changes would allow FBI agents to ask open-ended questions about activities of Muslim- or Arab-Americans, or investigate them if their jobs and backgrounds matched trends that analysts deemed suspect.

FBI agents would not be allowed to eavesdrop on phone calls or dig deeply into personal data, such as the content of phone or e-mail records or bank statements, until a full investigation was opened.

The guidelines focus on the FBI's domestic operations and run about 40 pages long, several officials said.

One senior Justice Department official said agents have been allowed since 2003 to build "threat assessments" of Americans based on public records and information from informants. Assessments could be used to open a preliminary investigation, the official said.
However, another official said the authorities are limited, tightly monitored by FBI headquarters in Washington and, overall, confused about how or when assessments can be used.
Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the guidelines governing when to open a national-security investigation are part of a "harmonizing" process that will not give the FBI any more authority than it already has. He declined to comment further, but he would not deny the changes as they were described by others familiar with the guidelines.
"Any review and change to the guidelines will reflect our traditional concerns for civil liberties and First Amendment liberties," Roehrkasse said.

Although the guidelines do not require congressional approval, House members recently sought to limit such profiling by rejecting an $11 million request for the FBI's security-assessment center. Lawmakers wrote that it was unclear how the FBI could compile suspect profiles "in such a way as to avoid needless intrusions into the privacy of innocent citizens" and without wasting time and money chasing down false leads.

The denial of funding could limit the FBI's use of profiles, or "predictive models and patterns of behavior" as the government prefers to describe the data-mining results, but would not change the guidelines authorizing them. The guidelines would remain until a new attorney general changed them.

Courts across the country have overturned criminal convictions when defendants showed they were targeted based on race. Racial profiling generally is considered a civil-rights violation, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft condemned it in March 2001 as an "unconstitutional deprivation of equal protection under our Constitution."

President Bush also has condemned racial profiling as "wrong in America" and, in a December 2001 interview, had harsh words for an airline that refused to let an Arab-American Secret Service agent board a commercial flight.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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« Reply #286 on: July 06, 2008, 09:14:08 AM »

**I guess NYC's "If you see something, say something" ads have paid off.**

Van left on Brooklyn street packed with hazardous material tied to blast suspect


Saturday, July 5th 2008, 12:03 AM

A van loaded with gasoline cans, wires and switches that prompted police to swarm a desolate Brooklyn street may belong to a suspect already in federal custody for alleged bomb-making, law enforcement sources said Friday.

The red Ford with mismatched license plates in Sunset Park contained explosives nearly identical to those previously used by Yung (Mark) Tang, who once tried to blow up a renter during a landlord-tenant dispute, sources said.

Investigators crawled over the van at 37th St. and Second Ave. Friday and discovered several 5-gallon containers and 12-ounce water bottles filled with a clear liquid that smelled like gasoline, according to a police source.

The jugs were connected with wires but no obvious detonator could be found, the source said.

"The bomb squad believes they seem similar, and it was found within a few blocks of [Tang's] house," a source said.

Investigators believe that the van had been parked at 53rd St. and Second Ave. for more than a month, and its dangerous cargo was discovered only after a car thief broke into the vehicle Thursday afternoon.

When the thief realized what was inside, he ditched it on a quiet stretch of 37th St. and called the police.

"He thought it might have been terrorism on the day before the Fourth of July, so he called the cops," said an NYPD source, adding it was unlikely the man would be charged in the van break-in.

Although the vehicle was found near where Tang, 38, had lived with his estranged wife, he has been held since May at a federal detention facility in Rhode Island after being caught with explosives in a vehicle while traveling from New York to Massachusetts.

Investigators think he may have been planning to threaten his wife with explosives.

He also faces 50 years for attempted murder, arson and other charges in state court in Brooklyn related to a 2002 bomb attack on a tenant.

The NYPD did not officially identify a suspect Friday, and Tang's lawyer denied his client was connected to the van.

"It may make for a very interesting news story," said George Farkas, "but as far as I know this has nothing to do with my client."

With Kamelia Angelova
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« Reply #287 on: July 17, 2008, 09:19:56 AM »

July 16, 2008
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

At the stroke of midnight July 8, the Denver Water Board closed the road over Dillon Dam in Summit County, Colorado, citing security concerns. The board’s decision, which was implemented without advance notice to local governments and citizens, has not been well-received. It has sparked protests by enraged residents and has even prompted officials from Summit County, three affected towns nearby and the local fire and rescue department to file suit in state district court in a bid to force Denver Water to reopen the road.

The road is one of only a few traversing Summit County, so residents are understandably upset at the inconvenience caused by the closure. Local fire and rescue departments also say closing the road negatively affects emergency response times. This not the first time the road has been closed, however. The road was shut down for a week in January after a report of suspicious activity in the area — activity investigated by authorities and found to be nothing more than two men from Denver filming a music video. The Water Board has spent several million dollars to improve security for the mile-long dam road, and in May it even hired a private security company to conduct 24-hour armed patrols of the dam.

Denver Water has said the decision to close the road was not made in response to a specific threat, and we tend to believe this. With the heat they’ve received over the issue, they surely would have cited evidence of a specific threat to assuage public anger if there had been such information.

But the ruckus raised over the closure of the Dillon Dam road provides a prime opportunity to re-examine the ability of jihadist militants to operate inside the United States, and to look at the types of targets militants might be most likely to select for an attack.

Assessing the Militant Threat
To assess a threat against a potential target like the Dillon Dam, several important tactical realities must be considered. The first is that as long as the ideology of jihadism exists and at least some jihadist militants embrace the philosophy of attacking the “far enemy” — aka the United States — there will be some threat of attacks against targets on U.S. soil. Indeed, there has not been a time since 1990 when some group of jihadists somewhere was not plotting such an attack.

A second tactical reality is that the U.S. government and the American people simply cannot protect every potential target. There are simply far too many of them. While insights gained from al Qaeda’s targeting criteria can help authorities protect select high-value targets, there are just too many potential targets to protect them all. The federal government might instruct state and local authorities to protect every dam, bridge, power plant and mass-transit system in their respective jurisdictions, but the reality on the ground is that there are not nearly enough resources to protect all of these, much less to protect the far more plentiful array of potential soft targets.

Another tactical reality is that simple attacks against soft targets are very easy to conduct and very difficult to detect in advance and thwart. As an attack plan becomes larger and more complex, however, it requires more individuals, more materials and more infrastructure. This means that the bigger the attack plan is, the more difficult it is to conduct and the greater the chances it will be discovered and thwarted.

That said, just because attacks are possible — and indeed likely — and because there are a large number of vulnerable targets does not mean that all the vulnerable targets will be attacked. The capabilities and targeting criteria of militants also must be considered.

Let’s begin with the capability question first. When considering the capability of militants to strike in the United States, one must recognize that with regard to militant jihadists there are generally three different levels of actors to consider. First, there is the core al Qaeda organization; this is the small vanguard of jihadists led by Osama bin Laden attempting to lead a global rising of the Muslim masses. Second, there are al Qaeda’s regional franchises (such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), which are local or regional jihadist groups that have aligned themselves with al Qaeda, hoping to capitalize on the group’s popular brand name. And third, there are the local, self-motivated grassroots jihadists who think globally and act locally.

All three of these actors have different target selection criteria and different levels of capability. There is currently no al Qaeda franchise in the United States or even in the Western Hemisphere. This means that the main threat of an attack against a target in the United States will come from either the core al Qaeda group, a grassroots organization or a combination of the two, so we will focus our attention on those two actors.

Grassroots actors lack sophisticated terrorist tradecraft in crucial areas like preoperational planning and bomb making. Recent cases such as the July 7, 2005, attacks in London, the failed July 21, 2005, attacks in London, and the June 2007 attacks in London and Glasgow demonstrate the limited abilities of grassroots militants. They can sometimes kill people, but they do not have the ability to conduct large, strategic strikes.

Because of this, grassroots militants will often attempt to reach out for assistance if they desire to undertake a major attack. This is exactly what we saw in the early 1990s in New York. Grassroots operatives there were able to pull off a simple attack like the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, but they needed assistance for their bigger, more complex plans. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the local cell received assistance in the form of Abdel Basit (aka Ramzi Yousef), who helped them organize, plan their attack and construct a large truck-borne explosive device. In the second 1993 case, the local cell turned to an FBI informant for bomb-making expertise and were apprehended before they could strike.
The 2006 plot to bomb a series of airliners in the United Kingdom was likewise a case where a local grassroots cell received assistance from an al Qaeda operational commander but was thwarted before it could carry out its attack — mainly due to the complexity of the plan and the number of people involved.

Thus, without assistance the odds of a successful attack by a grassroots group against a target like a dam are low. Perhaps the greatest threat posed by a grassroots group is that one of its operatives could gain employment as an engineer at a dam — therefore gaining the opportunity to sabotage the equipment controlling the dam from the inside and turning the dam into a weapon against itself. This is similar to the threat posed by insiders at chemical plants. There have also been concerns previously that a savvy cyber-jihadist could assume control of the dam’s equipment via gaps in the information security of the entity running the dam.

As for the al Qaeda core, while the group may theoretically have personnel with the expertise to undertake such an attack, they have been extremely limited in their operational ability since the U.S. response to 9/11. We came under widespread criticism last July when we wrote that the al Qaeda core was a spent force that did not pose a strategic threat to the U.S. homeland, but our assessment holds one year on. Indeed, the vast majority of attacks attributed to the al Qaeda brand name since September 2001 have been conducted by regional franchises like Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda in Iraq or al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, not core al Qaeda. In our assessment, the al Qaeda core might have some ability to attack, but it no longer has the ability to conduct a devastating strategic attack such as 9/11.

The Dam as a Target
It is possible to destroy a dam. Indeed, the British Royal Air Force destroyed German dams during World War II, and aircraft from the United States and its U.N. allies destroyed a North Korean hydroelectric dam during the Korean War. In general, however, dams are very large structures designed and built to withstand powerful forces such as floods and earthquakes. Because of this, it would be very difficult to destroy one with an improvised explosive device, unless the attacker could strike at a strategic location that would cause a leak in the structure (as the British did in their attacks on German dams) or at a location that would allow the water to overtop the dam and erode it — in either case, using the power of the water behind the dam to cause the structure to fail catastrophically.

Even with massive resources, however, it is not easy to destroy a large dam made of earth and rock. For proof, one need only to look at the massive efforts of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in China to unblock the Qingjiang River after it was dammed up by debris following the powerful May 12 earthquake. The PLA has used heavy machinery and massive amounts of explosives in their efforts. One July 2 blast on the Shibangou section of the river reportedly involved 6 tons of strategically placed explosives alone. It is very unlikely that militants would have the ability to carefully place that quantity of explosives on a dam in the United States without being detected.

Obtaining explosives in Western countries is also becoming more difficult in the post-9/11 era. Even the 2006 airliner plot involved small amounts of improvised explosives rather than an attack with a huge device, and the 9/11 attacks involved no explosives at all. The grassroots militants involved in the London and Glasgow attacks in the summer of 2007 also had problems obtaining explosives, and they instead chose to try using improvised (and ill-designed) fuel-air explosive devices in those incidents.

If a militant group planned properly and somehow amassed a sufficient quantity of explosives, it would be possible for it to destroy a dam. But that does not mean a group like al Qaeda would target a dam. Even if the group had the ability to conduct such an attack, it probably would choose to use such a large quantity of explosives to attack a far more symbolic target than a dam in rural Colorado.

While al Qaeda’s Taliban cousins have conducted several unsuccessful attacks against dams in southern Afghanistan, the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is far different than that in the United States. The Taliban in Afghanistan are a large, well-supplied insurgent force that regularly strikes at infrastructure such as roads, bridges and even schools.

Conversely, there is no large jihadist element in the United States. There are only scattered grassroots operatives and perhaps a few transnational al Qaeda-types available to conduct attacks. To our mind, that means that these operatives will want to maximize their efforts and undertake the most meaningful and symbolic attacks possible. Rather than choosing targets based on military utility (like the Taliban in Afghanistan), al Qaeda generally chooses targets in the United States for their potential symbolic value so as to elicit the greatest political or psychological impact, which they then hope will translate into economic impact.

This is not intended as an insult to the people of Colorado, but the Dillon Dam simply does not strike us as the kind of target that will carry the type of symbolic or economic impact al Qaeda would seek in an U.S. attack. Symbolic targets need to be readily recognizable not only by the people who live close to them, but also by people looking at a photo in a Pakistani newspaper. The World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations, or even the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the strip in Las Vegas or the Space Needle in Seattle are highly symbolic targets that would meet these requirements. The Dillon Dam does not. In fact, we are Americans and had not even heard of this specific dam until the reports of the controversy over the road closure emerged.

Does this mean that jihadists will never strike in Denver? Not at all. Lone wolf or grassroots operatives could very well strike there. As seen in past cases in New Jersey, Florida and California, such people normally seek to strike in familiar territory close to where they live, and there might well be jihadists residing in Denver. But again, such a strike by grassroots operatives or lone wolves would likely be a smaller attack aimed at a soft target. We remain skeptical of the idea of al Qaeda dispatching a team from their headquarters in Pakistan to travel to the United States to destroy the Dillon Dam. The Democratic National Convention in Denver, maybe — but not the Dillon Dam.
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« Reply #288 on: July 18, 2008, 09:10:50 AM »

Chertoff: European terrorists trying to enter US
By EILEEN SULLIVAN – 13 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — European terrorists are trying to enter the United States with European Union passports, and there is no guarantee officials will catch them every time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.
Chertoff's comments on Capitol Hill comes as the country is entering a potentially vulnerable period with the presidential nominating conventions coming up next month; the presidential election in November; and the transition to a new administration in January — all of which may be attractive targets for terrorists.
In his last scheduled appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, Chertoff said that the more time and space al-Qaida and its allies have to recruit, train, experiment and plan, the more problems the U.S. and Europe will face down the road.
"The terrorists are deliberately focusing on people who have legitimate Western European passports, who don't appear to have records as terrorists," Chertoff told lawmakers. "I have a good degree of confidence we can catch people coming in. But I have to tell you ... there's no guarantee. And they are working very hard to slip by us."
Chertoff and other intelligence officials have delivered similar warnings before, and he offered no new information about specific threats or an imminent attack.
Chertoff reiterated his concern that terrorists could sneak radiological material into the country on small boats or private aircraft. This material could be used to create an explosive device known as a "dirty bomb."
The Homeland Security Department has a strategy to protect against this small boat vulnerability and is testing radiation detection equipment in Seattle and San Diego ports.
Chertoff said that getting out a regulation to prescreen and enhance security of general aviation aircraft coming to the U.S. from overseas is one of his top priorities.
He also said he expects to approve new radiation detection technology this fall.
Responding to a question from Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, Chertoff dismissed any rumor that he is on a list of potential running mates for Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Chertoff quipped that the only list he has for next year is a list of vacations.
Chertoff's term as the country's second Homeland Security Secretary ends when a new administration takes over the White House in January.
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« Reply #289 on: July 21, 2008, 05:28:46 PM »

Border security IS homeland security.
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« Reply #290 on: July 24, 2008, 06:25:06 PM »

Report warns vehicles could be stuffed with explosives for suicide attacks

 Publishing Date: 22.07.08 11:08
By Gordon Thomas

LONDON -- Members of Britain's MI5 intelligence service have warned the nation's cash-strapped National Health Services that dozens of ambulances -- along with old police cars and fire engines -- are being snapped up by al-Qaida operatives in the United Kingdom to mount suicide bomb attacks.

So serious is the problem that counter-terrorism officials at the Home Office have written to eBay, the Internet auctioneer, asking them to stop selling emergency service vehicles, equipment and uniforms.  But eBay has insisted it can only halt the sales if a new law is passed by Parliament. That could take many months.  The use of ambulances is of particular concern to Britain's anti-terror chiefs. They say the tactic has already been used in Iraq with devastating effects.

A report by Lord Carlisle -- the government terrorist czar who last month warned about the possibility of private planes being used for an attack on London -- has been issued to all of Britain's 48 police forces warning of the danger of selling off emergency service vehicles.  Lord Carlisle, who works closely with the Terrorism Analysis Centre in London set up since the 9/11 attacks, said ambulances were the ideal weapon of choice for terrorists.

"It is almost rare that police will stop such vehicles on suspicious grounds. An ambulance rigged with high explosives could drive into any ultra-sensitive target like a nuclear power station or even Whitehall," said a senior MI5 source.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has warned that the risk could be "highly significant" if the law is not tightened.  Every year dozens of police cars, ambulances and even fire engines are sold on eBay for as little as $3,000. Many are still in working order. Those that need repair can be fixed to pass as genuine emergency service vehicles.

"An ambulance could carry half a ton of explosives. A rigged police car could carry half that amount. So could a fire engine," states the MI5 report.

MI5 counter-terrorism officers say such attacks have been successfully carried out in Iraq and Israel. The report reveals that an al-Qaida attack in Baghdad last February involved a stolen ambulance driven by a suicide bomber into an Iraqi police station.

The report states: "Terrorists have been using ambulances to transport bombs in Israel since at least 2002. The Israelis have told us that Hamas are using ambulances to ferry men and rocket launchers around Gaza."

A national security committee has been set up in London with MI5 and police chiefs drawing up plans to deal with the threat. Chairman of the committee, Steve Watts, said: "There is a need of urgent legislation becoming available to the police which adequately addresses the threat of pseudo-emergency service vehicles being used by terrorists."

Lord Carlisle has suggested all service vehicles to be sold must be clearly decommissioned so they cannot be used to imitate emergency services. Manufacturers of all such vehicles are being asked to urgently inspect vehicles taken out of service to see how this can be done.

Gordon Thomas is the author of a new edition of Gideon’s Spies: The Inside Story of Israel’s Legendary Secret Service The Mossad, by JR Books of London and available on Amazon Books.
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« Reply #291 on: July 28, 2008, 09:52:15 AM »

U.S. Headed for 'Heightened Alert' Stage
Exclusive: Major Events on the Horizon Prompt a Surge in Anti-Terror Efforts

July 28, 2008—

Government officials have been quietly stepping up counterterror efforts out of a growing concern that al Qaeda or similar organizations might try to capitalize on the spate of extremely high-profile events in the coming months, sources tell ABC News.

Security experts point to next month's Olympics as evidence that high-profile events attract threats of terrorism, like the one issued this past weekend by a Chinese Muslim minority group that warned of its intent to attack the Games.

Anti-terror officials in the U.S. cite this summer and fall's lineup of two major political parties' conventions, November's general election and months of transition into a new presidential administration as cause for heightened awareness and action.

This is what the Department of Homeland Security is quietly declaring a Period of Heightened Alert, or POHA, a time frame when terrorists may have more incentive to attack.

According to drafts of government memos described to ABC News, the period would run roughly from this August through July 2009.

During this time, homeland security analysts will be asked to redouble efforts to study terrorism leads. And a number of agencies will be asked to review emergency response plans to a variety of attacks, from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to biological weapons.

Officials also are being asked to make sure they are prepared for all contingencies during the transition from the Bush administration to that of the next president.

In a recent interview, FBI director Robert Mueller told ABC News of his concerns for homeland security.

"When you have a series of events like this which are very public, where you have a number of people that are congregated together, we take additional precautions," he said.

"That means identifying, focusing on the intelligence that's available and scrutinizing it to pieces and running it to ground, to putting in place the precautions to assure the particular events go according to plan and free from terrorist attacks," he said.

At the moment, the nation's public threat level will remain at yellow, or "elevated," but not orange, or "high."

The reasons: There are no specifics indicating an attack on the U.S. is imminent, and U.S. officials do not want to be accused of trying to inject themselves into the presidential campaign.

"That's a balancing act," said Jerry Hauer, former Homeland Security official and ABC News consultant. "They really have to focus on these events and this critical time we're going through as a nation, but they have to be very careful about the public message to not make it look political or like they're fearmongering."

Government officials point to the Sept. 11 attacks, which happened just nine months into a new administration, and the Madrid train bombings, which were carried out just three days before Spain's 2004 general election.

They say history suggests a need to take potential threats seriously -- especially in the very near future.
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« Reply #292 on: August 12, 2008, 12:41:59 AM »,0,4629105.story

Accused Al Qaeda sleeper agent in custody

HO/AFP/Getty Images
Composite image provided by the FBI on May 26, 2004 shows Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).

Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani mother of three who studied at MIT, is said to have moved in the terrorist group's inner circles. She faces charges of firing at U.S. personnel in Afghanistan.
By Josh Meyer, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 5, 2008

WASHINGTON -- One of the more elusive and mysterious figures linked to Al Qaeda -- a Pakistani mother of three who studied biology at MIT and who authorities say spent years in the United States as a sleeper agent -- was flown to New York on Monday night to face charges of attempting to kill U.S. military and FBI personnel in Afghanistan.

The Justice Department, FBI and U.S. military in Afghanistan said that Aafia Siddiqui, 36, was arrested in Ghazni province three weeks ago. She is accused of firing an automatic rifle at FBI agents and soldiers and is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Manhattan today.
FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of a caption with a photo accompanying this article misidentified Siddiqui's sister, Dr. Fozia, as Siddiqui.
Authorities believe Siddiqui used the technical skills she acquired at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to do what virtually no other woman has accomplished -- work her way into the clubby inner circles of Al Qaeda's command and control operation, including its chemical and biological weapons program.

But questions swirled around her Monday evening, including whether she has been in Pakistani custody for at least part of the last five years and whether there is hard evidence that she was a trained, committed and hardened Al Qaeda operative, as former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other U.S. officials have contended.

"This doesn't pass the sniff test," Elaine W. Sharp, a Massachusetts defense lawyer representing Siddiqui, said of the circumstances surrounding her client's arrest. She said her client was not an Al Qaeda terrorist, but an innocent woman who had been held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan or elsewhere for the last several years and tortured by some combination of U.S., Pakistani and Afghan officials.

Sharp said that Siddiqui had obtained an undergraduate biology degree from MIT and a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience from Brandeis University, both near Boston, and that she had lived a quiet life in the Boston area, and in Houston before that, before returning to her native Pakistan in late 2002.

One senior U.S. federal law enforcement official refused to comment on the case, except to say that Siddiqui was an extremely significant catch and that authorities had pledged not to discuss any details of the operation because of its sensitivity and relationship to ongoing counter-terrorism operations.

"We can't say anything about this one," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He confirmed that the woman in custody was the one near the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List of fugitive terrorism suspects wanted for questioning.

For years, the FBI and the CIA have been desperately trying to find Siddiqui, who they say spent several years in Boston as a "fixer" for admitted Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, providing haven and logistical support for terrorist operatives that he sent to the United States to launch attacks.

Siddiqui also bought diamonds in Liberia as part of Al Qaeda financing efforts and married Mohammed's nephew, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, according to several U.S. counter-terrorism officials and government documents.

One former CIA weapons of mass destruction analyst who tracked Siddiqui said that she became extremely frustrated years ago, however, when she was told by senior Al Qaeda leaders to help their cause by getting pregnant.

"They told her that the best thing she could do for Al Qaeda was to start popping out little jihadists," said the former CIA officer, who left the agency in 2006. "She was furious; she knows more about this stuff than pretty much anyone in the organization."

Siddiqui never gave up her desire to launch attacks against the United States and its allies, according to FBI and Justice Department records made public Monday night.

According to court papers, Afghan national police officers in Ghazni province, south of Kabul, the capital, observed Siddiqui acting suspiciously near the provincial governor's compound July 17.

When they searched her handbag, they found documents relating to explosives, chemical weapons and weapons involving biological materials and radiological agents, along with descriptions of landmarks in New York City and elsewhere in the United States, and liquid and gel substances sealed in bottles and jars.

The next day, according to the court papers, she was being questioned by two FBI agents, an Army captain and an Army warrant officer, along with their interpreters.

A spokeswoman for U.S. forces at Bagram air base, Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, said Siddiqui, who was being interrogated at an Afghan police station, grabbed a gun that a U.S. military officer had laid down while speaking to Afghan police. He did not realize Siddiqui was in the room at the time, unsecured, because she was hidden behind a curtain.

"She seized a weapon and began to shoot," Nielson-Green said. "Our officer returned fire. She was shot in the stomach, but continued to struggle."

She was subsequently hospitalized at Bagram and "was not in the detention facility at any time," Nielson-Green said. Siddiqui was flown to the United States after being found well enough to travel, the spokeswoman said.

Siddiqui is charged in a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York with one count of attempting to kill United States officers and employees and one count of assaulting U.S. officers and employees. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each charge.

Michael J. Garcia, the U.S. attorney in New York, praised the investigative work and said the investigation was continuing.

In the past Siddiqui's lawyer, some human rights advocates and Siddiqui's family members have said she disappeared with her three children in March 2003 while visiting her parents' home in Karachi -- around the same time the FBI said it wanted to question her. Mohammed was arrested just before that in Pakistan.

In 2006, Amnesty International listed Siddiqui as one of many "disappeared" suspects in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Of allegations that Siddiqui had been detained at Bagram after her disappearance in Pakistan, Nielson-Green said: "That's absolute nonsense."

Pakistani government spokesmen declined to comment on the case early today.

Sharp said that the U.S. government's accusations were untrue, that Siddiqui's three children have never surfaced and that her family believes that public pressure from Amnesty and other organizations prompted authorities to concoct her suspicious behavior and arrest so they could hide the fact that she has been in custody all this time.

"We thought she was dead until her brother in Houston got a visit from the FBI the other day and said she is alive," Sharp said.

Times staff writer Laura King in Kabul contributed to this report.
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« Reply #293 on: August 12, 2008, 07:49:03 PM »

Aug 12, 2008 5:02 pm US/Mountain
Man Dead, Large Amount Of Possible Cyanide Found
Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4) ― It has the makings of international intrigue. Less than two weeks before the Democratic National Convention a man has been found dead in a Denver hotel room with a container of what authorities initially suspect to be the deadly poison cyanide.

Adding to the intrigue is that the dead man, Saleman Abdirahman Dirie, 29, appears to be from outside the U.S. No passport was found on Dirie, who is believed to have entered the country from Canada.

A large container of a white powdery substance was found in the man's room on the fourth floor of The Burnsley hotel at 10th and Grant.

Tests are now being done by the Denver Police Crime Lab to determine exactly what the substance is. The tests could take days.

It's believed Dirie died from something other than the substance that was in the container.

Denver police are leading the investigation of the man's death. The FBI and other governmental agencies, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force, are assisting in the probe. Hazardous materials assistance has included the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado National Guard.

"Our Joint Terrorism Task Force is involved in this simply because the victim here is from another country and it just kind of makes sense that our terrorism guys would take a look a look at this," FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis said.

Davis told CBS 4 that nothing so far has been found to link the case to terrorism or the coming convention.

Authorities said The Burnsley hotel is safe and is open for business.

Cyanide can be made from plants in very small amounts. It can be a gas, liquid or powder. It prevents the body from using oxygen and therefore is more harmful to the heart and brain than other organs.

"It was used in concentration camps in World War II and by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in the 1990s," CBD4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida said. "And put it in a little capsule, it is in fact used as a suicide pill just like you see in the movies."

Officials said cyanide can be used as a terrorist weapon if it is dumped in water put in food, sprayed as a gas, or many other methods.

The investigation is continuing.
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« Reply #294 on: August 13, 2008, 04:22:03 PM »

Alleged Mata Hari of Al Qaeda Could Provide 'Treasure Trove' of Intelligence
Aafia Siddique Had a List of Targets in New York & Chem-Bio Weapons Information in her Possession

August 12, 2008—

When she was arrested in Afghanistan last month, Aafia Siddique allegedly had in her possession maps of New York, a list of potential targets that included the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the subway system and the animal disease center on Plum Island, detailed chemical, biological and radiological weapon information that has been seen only in a handful of terrorist cases, as well as a thumb drive packed with emails, ABC News has learned.

That haul of information has led multiple government sources to describe Siddique, a 36 year-old MIT graduate, as a potential "treasure trove" of information on terrorist supporters, sympathizers or 'sleepers' in the United States and overseas.

"She is the most significant capture in five years," said former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who said she lives up to her reputation as an alleged terrorist 'Mata Hari.'

And there is an eagerness to see what, if anything, she can add to the thin trickle of fresh information on the activities of terrorists and terrorist supporters in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as what if any risk she might pose to national security.

Only a "handful" of captured alleged Al Qaeda associates have had the kind of detailed information on weapons of mass destruction that Siddique, who attended MIT as an undergraduate and earned her PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis, had in her handbag, multiple current and former US intelligence and law enforcement officials told ABC News.

"She is a very dangerous person, no doubt about it," said a senior US counter terrorism official.

"This is a major haul, a major capture for the FBI," said Kiriakou. "To find someone who has such rich information, computer hard drives, e-mails, that is really a major capture."

US authorities are analyzing Siddique's saliva, hair, and fingernail scrapings to determine, if possible, what evidence they can find of any exposure to chemical, biological or radiological materials with potential use in weapons of mass destruction, sources said.

"Her education troubled us. We know that she's extremely bright. She's radicalized. We knew that she had been planning, or at least involved in the planning, of a wide variety of different operations, whether they involved weapons of mass destruction or research into chemical or biological weapons, whether it was a possible attempt on the life of the President," said Kiriakou. "We knew that she was involved with a great deal and we had to bring her into custody."

When nabbed by a team of Afghanistan National Police officers on July 17th, she also had in her possession a one gigabyte digital media storage device - a thumb drive - whose contents included a large trail of emails that authorities are now poring over, sources said. Those e-mails, a source involved in the investigation said, are between "what she described as 'units' and what we would call 'cells'."

In her papers she had maps and information concerning potential targets in New York City that sources say included the subway, Times Square and the Statute of Liberty, ABC News has learned. She also carried excerpts from "The Anarchist's Arsenal" and "documents detailing United States military assets", according to the federal complaint against her filed July 31st in Manhattan.

ABC News sources said that she also had information indicating the possibility of "an attack" on Plum Island Disease Center, a secure US government facility off the tip of Long Island, New York where research into foot and mouth disease, swine fever and other animal pathogens is conducted by the Department of Agriculture and security is provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

"We're proud of our role as America's first line of defense against foreign animal diseases," the facility's website notes. "We're equally proud of our safety record. Not once in our nearly 50 years of operation has an animal pathogen escaped from the island."

The remote possibility of smuggling a pathogen off isolated Plum Island was the subject of the bestseller Plum Island by Nelson DeMille.

But a terrorist attack on the isolated island would not spread disease, according to homeland security officials familiar with the research activities there.

Interest in Siddique is in itself not new. On May 26th, 2004 she became the first woman wanted by the federal government in connection with Al Qaeda when then Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller asked the public's help in finding her and six men suspected of links to Al Qaeda.

At that same time they warned, in advance of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, that Al Qaeda was preparing to "hit the United States hard" that summer.

By then Siddique had been linked to an "ill conceived" and perhaps amateurish plot to "kill all living US presidents", according to sources from three federal agencies. And she had already vanished from public view for about 16 months.

She has also been twice married; once to a nephew of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Her name reportedly rolled from KSM's lips when he was captured and interrogated by US intelligence officers. She has also been linked to Adnan El Shukrijumah, a pilot and suspected al Qaeda member also on the Ashcroft-Mueller list.

Shukrijumah, Ashcroft noted, had once lived in Florida, had left the United States and had later attempted to re-enter the country using a variety of passports.

"We know that he has been involved in terrorist planning with senior al Qaeda leaders overseas and has scouted sites across America that might be vulnerable to terrorist attack," Ashcroft added.

By the time of Siddique's capture last month, she had become something of a cause celebre among some human rights activists who believe she was "disappeared" five years ago by the Pakistani government, perhaps at the request of the United States.

At a federal court hearing in Manhattan on Monday, the number of supporters who showed up required the US Marshals to move the Magistrate's Court proceeding to a larger courtroom and also open an overflow courtroom where spectators could listen to and watch the proceedings on closed circuit TV.

They saw Siddique slumped over in a wheelchair, the result of having been shot twice with a nine millimeter side arm after she allegedly grabbed a US Army Warrant Officer's M-4 Carbine and opened fire as a team of FBI agents, US Army officers including the Warrant Officer and a Captain, and interpreters prepared to interrogate her on July 18th, the day following her arrest, according the federal complaint.

"The Warrant Officer saw and heard Siddique fire at least two shots as Interpreter 1 tried to wrestle the gun from her. No one was hit. The Warrant Officer heard Siddique exclaim 'Allah Akbar!' Another interpreter (Interpreter 2) heard Siddique yell in English 'Get the f--- out of here,' as she fired the rifle," the complaint stated.

"Her medical condition is that, she was shot in the abdomen. There are stitches that run from the breast plate area down to the belly button area...layers and layers of tissue have been sewn, sutured. We have heard reports that she has lost a kidney; we don't know if those are accurate but we are concerned about that. There has been intestinal damage, part of the intestines, we understand, have been removed," according to Elaine Whitman Sharpe, one of a team of three attorneys present for Siddique.

Pakistani officials present at the hearing said they had "no information" on the allegations that Siddique had been secretly held prisoner and "no information" to offer on the allegations that their government may have assisted in that capture.

Her friends and family say the young woman, a mother of three, is innocent and being persecuted by the US.

There is some dissent in the intelligence community on Siddique's potential value and some have characterized her as mentally unbalanced and operationally insignificant.

But in an intelligence and law enforcement community that has exhausted the useful information from high value prisoners it has had in custody for as long as six years and has watched the stream of new intelligence go from a torrent to a trickle, she is seen by many as having at least the potential of holding valuable current intelligence about members and associates of Al Qaeda both overseas and in the United States.
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« Reply #295 on: August 13, 2008, 04:33:12 PM »

Federal Complaint and Other Documents on Aafia Siddiqui, Alleged Al Qaeda "Fixer"
By Andrew Cochran

Aafia Siddiqui, long sought for alleged ties to Al Qaeda, appears in federal court today in New York City. Siddiqui was arrested on July 17 by the Afghanistan National Police and was carrying documents describing the creation of explosives, descriptions of landmarks in the United States, and substances that were sealed in bottles and glass jars." While she was in custody, she seized a rifle and fired twice at U.S. military personnel who were preparing to question her. A federal agent returned fire, and she was wounded while shouting in English that she wanted to kill Americans. Siddiqui is charged with one count of attempting to kill United States officers and employees and one count of assaulting United States officers and employees. The NEFA Foundation has posted the complaint, the DOJ press release about the complaint, and other documents referring to her.

Siddiqui has been on the Ten Most Wanted list of the Boston office of the FBI for years for her alleged role as a terrorist facilitator. In 2004, the Attorney General and FBI Director identified her as one of seven people wanted for questioning about suspected ties to Al Qaeda. She is alleged to have assisted Majid Khan and Ammar al-Baluchi, two alleged top Al Qaeda lieutenants now imprisoned at Gitmo, in their activities in the U.S. She is also alleged to have been among among the "intended beneficiaries" of the misuse of funds by Care International, the Boston-based Muslim charity whose leaders were convicted on several charges (later partially dismissed by a federal judge). Siddiqui is also implicated in Al Qaeda's interest in the west African diamond trade and traveled to Liberia in 2001. See this post by Douglas Farah in August 2005, quoting Mike Shanlin, the former CIA station chief for Liberia. "'They (al Qaeda operatives) were there during the period in question,' referring to the period of 1998-2001. 'And clearly they were involved in some sort of a diamond business. That's a fact.'"

Siddiqui's capture is an important break for U.S. counter-terrorism efforts and could lead to significant information about the Al Qaeda leadership structure worldwide.
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« Reply #296 on: August 13, 2008, 09:59:20 PM »,8599,1205309,00.html

Exclusive Book Excerpt: How an Al-Qaeda Cell Planned a Poison-Gas Attack on the N.Y. Subway
Saturday, Jun. 17, 2006

Target of Terror: Passengers wait for their train on a New York City subway platform last week

Al-Qaeda terrorists came within 45 days of attacking the New York subway system with a lethal gas similar to that used in Nazi death camps. They were stopped not by any intelligence breakthrough, but by an order from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri. And the U.S. learned of the plot from a CIA mole inside al-Qaeda. These are some of the more startling revelations by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, whose new book The One Percent Doctrine is excerpted in the forthcoming issue of TIME. It will appear on early Sunday morning.

U.S. intelligence got its first inkling of the plot from the contents of a laptop computer belonging to a Bahraini jihadist captured in Saudi Arabia early in 2003. It contained plans for a gas-dispersal system dubbed "the mubtakkar" (Arabic for inventive). Fearing that al-Qaeda's engineers had achieved the holy grail of terror R&D — a device to effectively distribute hydrogen-cyanide gas, which is deadly when inhaled — the CIA immediately set about building a prototype based on the captured design, which comprised two separate chambers for sodium cyanide and a stable source of hydrogen, such as hydrochloric acid. A seal between the two could be broken by a remote trigger, producing the gas for dispersal. The prototype confirmed their worst fears: "In the world of terrorist weaponry," writes Suskind, "this was the equivalent of splitting the atom. Obtain a few widely available chemicals, and you could construct it with a trip to Home Depot — and then kill everyone in the store."
The device was shown to President Bush and Vice President Cheney the following morning, prompting the President to order that alerts be sent through all levels of the U.S. government. Easily constructed and concealed, the device ensured that mass casualties would be inevitable if it could be triggered in any enclosed public space.
Having discovered the device, exposing the plot in which it might be used became a matter of extreme urgency. Although the Saudis were cooperating more than ever before in efforts to track down al-Qaeda operatives in the kingdom, the interrogations of suspects connected with the Bahraini on whose computer the Mubtakkar was discovered were going nowhere. The U.S. would have to look elsewhere.
Conventional wisdom has long held that the U.S. has no human intelligence assets inside al-Qaeda. "That is not true," writes Suskind. Over the previous six months, U.S. agents had been receiving accurate tips from a man the writer identifies simply as "Ali," a management-level al-Qaeda operative who believed his leaders had erred in attacking the U.S. directly. "The group was now dispersed," writes Suskind. "A few of its leaders and many foot soldiers were captured or dead. As with any organization, time passed and second-guessing began."
And when asked about the mubtakkar and the names of the men arrested in Saudi Arabia, Ali was aware of the plot. He identified the key man as bin Laden's top operative on the Arabian Peninsula, Yusuf al Ayeri, a.k.a. "Swift Sword," who had been released days earlier by Saudi authorities, unaware that al-Ayeri was bin Laden's point man in the kingdom.
Ali revealed that Ayeri had visited Ayman Zawahiri in January 2003, to inform him of a plot to attack the New York City subway system using cyanide gas. Several mubtakkars were to be placed in subway cars and other strategic locations. This was not simply a proposal; the plot was well under way. In fact, zero hour was only 45 days away. But then, for reasons still debated by U.S. intelligence officials, Zawahiri called off the attack. "Ali did not know the precise explanation why. He just knew that Zawahiri had called them off."
The news left administration officials gathered in the White House with more questions than answers. Why was Ali cooperating? Why had Zawahiri called off the strike? Were the operatives who were planning to carry out the attack still in New York? "The CIA analysts attempted answers. Many of the questions were simply unanswerable."
One man who could answer them was al-Ayeri — but he was killed in a gun battle between Saudi security forces and al-Qaeda militants who had launched a mini-insurrection to coincide with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Suskind quotes a CIA operative as questioning whether it was an accident that the Saudis had killed the kingpin who could expose a cell planning a chemical weapons attack inside the U.S. "The Saudis just shrugged," the source tells Suskind. "They said their people got a little overzealous."
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« Reply #297 on: August 23, 2008, 07:57:26 AM »

Predator Drone On L.I. Sparks Terror Investigation

Investigators said the drone was being designed to carry 600 pounds of explosives

POSTED: 1:36 pm EDT August 22, 2008
UPDATED: 2:16 pm EDT August 22, 2008
NEW YORK -- By Jonathan Dienst

A predator drone being built by an engineer on Long Island sparked a large counter-terrorism investigation across the New York area, officials tell Police said they had stumbled upon overnight testing of the drone at a little-used airstrip in Calverton, Long Island.
Images: Drone

The investigation began in February of last year, when investigators first learned testing of the drone was underway. Officials said the drone was being designed to carry more than 600 pounds of explosives.
"It could be in the air for 8-10 hours and there's potential harm if it is carrying a large amount of toxic material," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in explaining why his department's counterterrorism officials were concerned.

Police surveillance video obtained by News 4 New York shows a white van rolling onto the tarmac, a small group of men jumping out and ground testing the unmanned flight vehicle.

Kelly said the engineer building the drone never reported his work to any agency including the Federal Aviation Administration or local authorities. Investigators said concern increased for a time when they learned the man behind the project was an Egyptian national who had entered the U.S. on a Sudanese passport.

"It was such a bizarre set of circumstances," said New York State Homeland Security Director Michael Balboni. "Of course we watched it as closely as we did anything that was on our radar screen."

NYPD officials worked with Suffolk County police and the FBI to determine there were no ties to terror. Under questioning, the engineer said he was an inventor hoping to sell this drone model to the U.S. military. NYPD Lieutenant William McGroarty said during the investigation they had other questions.

"What if this individual could not sell to the military?” McGroarty asked. “Would he then turn and sell it to the highest bidder?"

The military uses unmanned aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan. But security officials worry about terrorists acquiring them. Earlier this year, Homeland Security officials issued a general bulletin warning they could be used "as an improvised explosive device.”

In this case, police said there is no evidence any laws were broken as the drone was tested on the ground. Officials said if it had gone into the air without prior FAA approval, it could have been considered a crime.

While there are no terror links, police said their investigation continues. The engineer, who News 4 New York will not name because he was not charged, did not respond to numerous requests for comment. His drone project has now been taken over by a Maryland-based company that has registered with the FAA, officials said. One investigator said the engineer, at best, had showed poor judgment in trying to do the project in a manner that raised so many alarms.

After repeated requests for information about this investigation, law enforcement agencies agreed to talk about the case to highlight the city's "Operation Century." This NYPD program enables city and suburban police to better share threat information. Officials said the drone investigation is one recent example of how Suffolk County police officials quickly engaged the NYPD's counter-terrorism division to help investigate the report of a predator drone sighting.

"Regional cooperation is the order of the day. Law enforcement gets it and is communicating more than ever before," Kelly said.
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« Reply #298 on: September 03, 2008, 10:04:12 AM »

Movie review: "Traitor"

The smartest, and best researched movie on the global jihad ever made. In addition, Don Cheadle may now be my favorite actor. He does an outstanding job as the deep cover protagonist caught in the shadow world of terrorism and intelligence and all the moral grey areas he attempts to navigate as a moral man in a dark and deadly war. Best movie I've seen in a long time.

« Reply #299 on: September 18, 2008, 11:10:32 PM »

Shoot first and ask questions later.
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