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Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom
Topic: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom (Read 234743 times)
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #300 on:
September 22, 2008, 06:09:12 AM »
Spies Warn That Al Qaeda Aims for October Surprise
Intercepted Messages Asking Local Cells To Be Prepared for Imminent Instructions
By ELI LAKE, Staff Reporter of the Sun | September 22, 2008
WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of two major terrorist attacks on Western targets, America's counterterrorism community is warning that Al Qaeda may launch more overseas operations to influence the presidential elections in November.
Call it Osama bin Laden's "October surprise." In late August, during the weekend between the Democratic and Republican conventions, America's military and intelligence agencies intercepted a series of messages from Al Qaeda's leadership to intermediate members of the organization asking local cells to be prepared for imminent instructions.
An official familiar with the new intelligence said the message was picked up in multiple settings, from couriers to encrypted electronic communications to other means. "These are generic orders," the source said — a distinction from the more specific intelligence about the location, time, and method of an attack. "It was, 'Be on notice. We may call upon you soon.' It was sent out on many channels."
Also, Yemen's national English-language newspaper is reporting that a spokesman for Yemen's Islamic Jihad, the Qaeda affiliate that claimed credit for last week's American embassy bombing in Sa'naa, is now publicly threatening to attack foreigners and high government officials if American and British diplomats do not leave the country.
Mr. bin Laden has sought to influence democratic elections in the past. On March 11, 2004, Al Qaeda carried out a series of bombings on Madrid commuter trains. Three days later, the opposition and anti-Iraq war Socialist Workers Party was voted into power.
In the week before the 2004 American presidential election, Mr. bin Laden recorded a video message to the American people promising repercussions if President Bush were re-elected. In later messages, Al Qaeda's leader claimed credit for helping elect Mr. Bush in 2004. Last year in Pakistan, Qaeda assassins claimed the life of Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister who returned to her native country in a bid for re-election.
"There is an expectation that Al Qaeda will try to influence the November elections by attempting attacks globally," a former Bush and Clinton White House counterterrorism official, Roger Cressey, said yesterday.
Mr. Cressey said Al Qaeda lacks the capability to pull off an attack in the continental United States, however. "It would likely be a higher Al Qaeda tempo of attacks against U.S. and allied targets abroad," he said.
At a talk at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs on August 12, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats said he expected to see more threat reporting on Al Qaeda as America approaches the November elections.
The terrorist attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday was a particular blow to the allied effort against Al Qaeda. The hotel's lobby in recent years served as a meeting place for the CIA and Pakistanis who would not risk being seen at the American Embassy. The bombing, which targeted one of the most heavily fortified locations in Pakistan's capital, will likely claim close to 100 lives after the dead are pulled from the rubble.
President Zardari, who had just given his first major address as Pakistan's head of state, on fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda, was the target of Saturday's attack, the vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, said.
"He was expected to attend the iftar dinner at the Marriott," Mr. Gartenstein-Ross said "Think of the symbolic value if they were able to kill Zardari after his first address as president of Pakistan in a speech announcing his fight against the terrorists. The symbolic effect of the attack on the same day would be devastating."
An adviser to Senator McCain and a former director of central intelligence under President Clinton, James Woolsey, said Al Qaeda has a "history of doing three things at least related to elections. One is to attack before elections, such as in 2004 in Spain, and of course the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. They also have a history of attacks when new leaders take over, like Gordon Brown in Britain and the new leader in Pakistan, with the attack over the weekend. Also Al Qaeda sends messages to populations in elections. You really don't know which one of these they are going to implement."
Earlier this summer, another McCain campaign official mused in an interview that an attack could benefit his candidate in the polls. But whether that statement is true is unclear: At the Republican National Convention this month, Mr. McCain praised the president's counterterrorism policies for preventing an attack in America since September 11, 2001. The Bush administration has deliberately refrained from pointing to this success in light of the many plots that the president has said have been aborted on American soil since September 11.
The deputy communications director for the McCain campaign, Michael Goldfarb, said: "There is no doubt that Al Qaeda is still dangerous and still desires to strike at America and our allies. But Americans will not be intimidated and their votes will not be swayed by terror."
A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, Wendy Morigi, said, "Last week's attacks demonstrate the grave and urgent threat that Al Qaeda and its affiliates pose to the United States and the security of all nations. As Senator Obama has said for some time, we must refocus our efforts on defeating Al Qaeda around the world."
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #301 on:
September 22, 2008, 06:24:31 AM »
In video, Al Qaeda vows more U.S. attacks
In video, adviser to Taliban leader says Osama bin Laden is alive and well
Speaker in video posted on al Jazeera says "major, large-scale attacks" to come
Video is meant to mark the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks
(CNN) -- In a video marking the seventh anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, al Qaeda's top leader in Afghanistan vows more "large-scale" attacks against the United States and its allies.
In another segment, the personal adviser to Taliban leader Mullah Omar says al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is alive and well. Al Qaeda leaders featured on the video promise more violence against their enemies.
"We inform the forces of the Cross and their apostate agents that the Mujahedeen's policy in the coming stage, God permitting, is going to be more major, large-scale attacks like the Kandahar prison operation, the Nuristan raid, the Sarobi ambush and Khost airport operation in which approximately 50 Americans and 100 apostates were killed and four helicopters were hit and destroyed," Mustafa Abu al-Yazid says.
CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the video posted on jihadi Web sites, purportedly by al Qaeda's video production arm, As Sahab.
The well-being of bin Laden, and the possibility of his demise, are frequently in question. But in the video, Mullah Mohammed Hassan Rahmani, adviser to Mullah Omar, says, "Sheikh Osama is healthy and well, and we ask God to protect him, and we pray to God to preserve him and foil the attempts if the enemies of the Nation to reach him."
Mullah Omar has been on the U.S. military's most-wanted list since a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban rulers from Afghanistan in 2001.
Also on the video is a reading from the will of Saeed al Ghamdi, one of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 suicide missions in New York and Washington. He was believed to have been aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Officials said his passport was recovered from the crash site.
The documentary-style video is nearly 1½ hours long. Among the other speakers are Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Hamza al-Muhajjer, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq; and Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second-in-command.
Video excerpts were first released by the Arab news network al-Jazeera on September 8. Availability of the entire video was delayed by technical problems, according to terrorism analyst and CNN contributor Laura Mansfield
Somalis on KLM flight arrested
Reply #302 on:
September 27, 2008, 05:09:49 PM »
2 Terrorism Suspects Arrested on KLM Flight
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, September 26, 2008; 6:10 AM
BERLIN, Sept. 26 -- Two Somali-born men who had left notes saying they were willing to sacrifice themselves for "jihad" were pulled off a flight at the Cologne airport this morning, moments before it was scheduled to depart for Amsterdam, German authorities said.
The pair had been under surveillance for months, the German newspaper Bild reported, citing unnamed police officials. Police officials said they moved to arrest the men after searching their apartments and finding notes suggesting that they intended to take part in a terrorist attack.
Authorities identified the men as a 23-year-old Somali national and a 24-year-old German citizen born in Mogadishu. Officials did not immediately release their names or give other details of where they had been living prior to their arrests.
"They are under suspicion of intending to participate in the jihad and in possible attacks," Frank Scheulen, a spokesman for police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told German television. "Farewell letters were written."
Police said they boarded KLM Flight 1804 at 06:55 am local time, 10 minutes before it was scheduled to depart for Amsterdam. A KLM spokesman said all passengers were removed from the plane until police could locate luggage belonging to the suspects. The flight was allowed to depart after an 80-minute delay, airport officials said.
German counterterrorism officials have warned of a heightened risk of terrorism in the country, citing threats by Islamist groups over the presence of German troops in Afghanistan. On Thursday, the federal prosecutor's office issued a public alert seeking information on the whereabouts of two terrorist suspects believed to have returned to Germany after attending militant training camps in Pakistan. The two suspects, Eric Breininger, 21, and Houssain al Malla, 23, are suspected of involvement with a group called the Islamic Jihad Union that was accused of planning attacks against U.S. targets in Germany a year ago.
German federal police officials said, however, that they did not believe the suspects named in the alert were connected with the men arrested at the Cologne airport on Friday.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #303 on:
October 24, 2008, 06:08:16 PM »
Airport security in America is a sham—“security theater” designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease.
by Jeffrey Goldberg
The Things He Carried
If I were a terrorist, and I’m not, but if I were a terrorist—a frosty, tough-like-Chuck-Norris terrorist, say a C-title jihadist with Hezbollah or, more likely, a donkey-work operative with the Judean People’s Front—I would not do what I did in the bathroom of the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, which was to place myself in front of a sink in open view of the male American flying public and ostentatiously rip up a sheaf of counterfeit boarding passes that had been created for me by a frenetic and acerbic security expert named Bruce Schneier. He had made these boarding passes in his sophisticated underground forgery works, which consists of a Sony Vaio laptop and an HP LaserJet printer, in order to prove that the Transportation Security Administration, which is meant to protect American aviation from al-Qaeda, represents an egregious waste of tax dollars, dollars that could otherwise be used to catch terrorists before they arrive at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, by which time it is, generally speaking, too late.
I could have ripped up these counterfeit boarding passes in the privacy of a toilet stall, but I chose not to, partly because this was the renowned Senator Larry Craig Memorial Wide-Stance Bathroom, and since the commencement of the Global War on Terror this particular bathroom has been patrolled by security officials trying to protect it from gay sex, and partly because I wanted to see whether my fellow passengers would report me to the TSA for acting suspiciously in a public bathroom. No one did, thus thwarting, yet again, my plans to get arrested, or at least be the recipient of a thorough sweating by the FBI, for dubious behavior in a large American airport. Suspicious that the measures put in place after the attacks of September 11 to prevent further such attacks are almost entirely for show—security theater is the term of art—I have for some time now been testing, in modest ways, their effectiveness. Because the TSA’s security regimen seems to be mainly thing-based—most of its 44,500 airport officers are assigned to truffle through carry-on bags for things like guns, bombs, three-ounce tubes of anthrax, Crest toothpaste, nail clippers, Snapple, and so on—I focused my efforts on bringing bad things through security in many different airports, primarily my home airport, Washington’s Reagan National, the one situated approximately 17 feet from the Pentagon, but also in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (which is where I came closest to arousing at least a modest level of suspicion, receiving a symbolic pat-down—all frisks that avoid the sensitive regions are by definition symbolic—and one question about the presence of a Leatherman Multi-Tool in my pocket; said Leatherman was confiscated and is now, I hope, living with the loving family of a TSA employee). And because I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded knickknacks, I’ve amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really). All these things I’ve carried with me through airports across the country. I’ve also carried, at various times: pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening four times—out of dozens of passages through security checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving cream.
During one secondary inspection, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I was wearing under my shirt a spectacular, only-in-America device called a “Beerbelly,” a neoprene sling that holds a polyurethane bladder and drinking tube. The Beerbelly, designed originally to sneak alcohol—up to 80 ounces—into football games, can quite obviously be used to sneak up to 80 ounces of liquid through airport security. (The company that manufactures the Beerbelly also makes something called a “Winerack,” a bra that holds up to 25 ounces of booze and is recommended, according to the company’s Web site, for PTA meetings.) My Beerbelly, which fit comfortably over my beer belly, contained two cans’ worth of Bud Light at the time of the inspection. It went undetected. The eight-ounce bottle of water in my carry-on bag, however, was seized by the federal government.
On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”
In Minneapolis, I littered my carry-on with many of my prohibited items, and also an Osama bin Laden, Hero of Islam T-shirt, which often gets a rise out of people who see it. This day, however, would feature a different sort of experiment, designed to prove not only that the TSA often cannot find anything on you or in your carry-on, but that it has no actual idea who you are, despite the government’s effort to build a comprehensive “no-fly” list. A no-fly list would be a good idea if it worked; Bruce Schneier’s homemade boarding passes were about to prove that it doesn’t. Schneier is the TSA’s most relentless, and effective, critic; the TSA director, Kip Hawley, told me he respects Schneier’s opinions, though Schneier quite clearly makes his life miserable.
“The whole system is designed to catch stupid terrorists,” Schneier told me. A smart terrorist, he says, won’t try to bring a knife aboard a plane, as I had been doing; he’ll make his own, in the airplane bathroom. Schneier told me the recipe: “Get some steel epoxy glue at a hardware store. It comes in two tubes, one with steel dust and then a hardener. You make the mold by folding a piece of cardboard in two, and then you mix the two tubes together. You can use a metal spoon for the handle. It hardens in 15 minutes.”
As we stood at an airport Starbucks, Schneier spread before me a batch of fabricated boarding passes for Northwest Airlines flight 1714, scheduled to depart at 2:20 p.m. and arrive at Reagan National at 5:47 p.m. He had taken the liberty of upgrading us to first class, and had even granted me “Platinum/Elite Plus” status, which was gracious of him. This status would allow us to skip the ranks of hoi-polloi flyers and join the expedited line, which is my preference, because those knotty, teeming security lines are the most dangerous places in airports: terrorists could paralyze U.S. aviation merely by detonating a bomb at any security checkpoint, all of which are, of course, entirely unsecured. (I once asked Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, about this. “We actually ultimately do have a vision of trying to move the security checkpoint away from the gate, deeper into the airport itself, but there’s always going to be some place that people congregate. So if you’re asking me, is there any way to protect against a person taking a bomb into a crowded location and blowing it up, the answer is no.”)
Schneier and I walked to the security checkpoint. “Counterterrorism in the airport is a show designed to make people feel better,” he said. “Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.” This assumes, of course, that al-Qaeda will target airplanes for hijacking, or target aviation at all. “We defend against what the terrorists did last week,” Schneier said. He believes that the country would be just as safe as it is today if airport security were rolled back to pre-9/11 levels. “Spend the rest of your money on intelligence, investigations, and emergency response.”
Schneier and I joined the line with our ersatz boarding passes. “Technically we could get arrested for this,” he said, but we judged the risk to be acceptable. We handed our boarding passes and IDs to the security officer, who inspected our driver’s licenses through a loupe, one of those magnifying-glass devices jewelers use for minute examinations of fine detail. This was the moment of maximum peril, not because the boarding passes were flawed, but because the TSA now trains its officers in the science of behavior detection. The SPOT program—“Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques”—was based in part on the work of a psychologist who believes that involuntary facial-muscle movements, including the most fleeting “micro-expressions,” can betray lying or criminality. The training program for behavior-detection officers is one week long. Our facial muscles did not cooperate with the SPOT program, apparently, because the officer chicken-scratched onto our boarding passes what might have been his signature, or the number 4, or the letter y. We took our shoes off and placed our laptops in bins. Schneier took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled “saline solution.”
“It’s allowed,” he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don’t fall under the TSA’s three-ounce rule.
“What’s allowed?” I asked. “Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?”
“Bottles labeled saline solution. They won’t check what’s in it, trust me.”
They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schneier held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, “This is okay, right?” “Yep,” the officer said. “Just have to put it in the tray.”
“Maybe if you lit it on fire, he’d pay attention,” I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schneier would carry two bottles labeled saline solution—24 ounces in total—through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. “Two eyes,” he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)
We were in the clear. But what did we prove?
“We proved that the ID triangle is hopeless,” Schneier said.
The ID triangle: before a passenger boards a commercial flight, he interacts with his airline or the government three times—when he purchases his ticket; when he passes through airport security; and finally at the gate, when he presents his boarding pass to an airline agent. It is at the first point of contact, when the ticket is purchased, that a passenger’s name is checked against the government’s no-fly list. It is not checked again, and for this reason, Schneier argued, the process is merely another form of security theater.
“The goal is to make sure that this ID triangle represents one person,” he explained. “Here’s how you get around it. Let’s assume you’re a terrorist and you believe your name is on the watch list.” It’s easy for a terrorist to check whether the government has cottoned on to his existence, Schneier said; he simply has to submit his name online to the new, privately run CLEAR program, which is meant to fast-pass approved travelers through security. If the terrorist is rejected, then he knows he’s on the watch list.
To slip through the only check against the no-fly list, the terrorist uses a stolen credit card to buy a ticket under a fake name. “Then you print a fake boarding pass with your real name on it and go to the airport. You give your real ID, and the fake boarding pass with your real name on it, to security. They’re checking the documents against each other. They’re not checking your name against the no-fly list—that was done on the airline’s computers. Once you’re through security, you rip up the fake boarding pass, and use the real boarding pass that has the name from the stolen credit card. Then you board the plane, because they’re not checking your name against your ID at boarding.”
What if you don’t know how to steal a credit card?
“Then you’re a stupid terrorist and the government will catch you,” he said.
What if you don’t know how to download a PDF of an actual boarding pass and alter it on a home computer?
“Then you’re a stupid terrorist and the government will catch you.”
I couldn’t believe that what Schneier was saying was true—in the national debate over the no-fly list, it is seldom, if ever, mentioned that the no-fly list doesn’t work. “It’s true,” he said. “The gap blows the whole system out of the water.”
This called for a visit to TSA headquarters. The headquarters is located in Pentagon City, just outside Washington. Kip Hawley, the man who runs the agency, is a bluff, amiable fellow who is capable of making a TSA joke. “Do you want three ounces of water?” he asked me.
I raised the subject of the ID triangle, hoping to get a cogent explanation. This is what Hawley said: “The TDC”—that’s “ticket document checker”—“will make a notation on your ticket and that’s something that will follow you all the way through” to the gate.
“But all they do is write a little squiggly mark on the boarding pass,” I said.
“You think you might be able to forge that?” he asked me.
“My handwriting is terrible, but don’t you think someone can forge it?” I asked.
“Well, uh, maybe. Maybe not,” he said.
Aha! I thought. He’s hiding something from me.
“Are you telling me that I don’t know about something that’s going on?” I asked.
“We’re well aware of the scenario you describe. Bruce has been talking about it for two years,” he said, referring to Schneier’s efforts to publicize the gaps in the ID triangle.
“Isn’t it a basic flaw, that you’re checking the no-fly list at the point of purchase, not at the airport?”
He leaned back in his chair.
“What do you do about vulnerabilities?” he asked, rhetorically. “All the time you hear reports and people saying, ‘There’s a vulnerability.’ Well, duh. There are vulnerabilities everywhere, in everything. The question is not ‘Is there a vulnerability?’ It’s ‘What are you doing about it?’”
Well, what are you doing about it?
“There are vulnerabilities where you have limited ways to address it directly. So you have to put other layers around it, other things that will catch them when that vulnerability is breached. This is a universal problem. Somebody will identify a very small thing and drill down and say, ‘I found a vulnerability.’”
In other words, the TSA has no immediate plans to check passengers against the no-fly list at the moment before they board their flight. (Hawley said that boarding passes will eventually be encrypted so the TSA can follow their progress from printer to gate.) Nor does it plan to screen airport employees when they show up for work each day. Pilots—or people dressed as pilots—are screened, as the public knows, but that’s because they enter the airport through the front door. The employees who drive fuel trucks, and make french fries at McDonald’s, and clean airplane bathrooms (to the extent that they’re cleaned anymore) do not pass through magnetometers when they enter the airport, and their possessions are not searched. To me this always seemed to be, well, another “vulnerability.”
“Do you know what you have on the inside of an airport?” Hawley asked me. “You have all the military traveling, you have guns, chemicals, jet fuel. So the idea that we would spend a whole lot of resources putting a perimeter around that, running every worker, 50,000 people, every day, through security—why in the heck would you do that? Because all they have to do is walk through clean and then have someone throw something over a fence.”
I asked about the depth of background screening for airport employees. He said, noncommittally, “It goes reasonably deep.”
So there are, in other words, two classes of people in airports: those whose shoes are inspected for explosives, and those whose aren’t. How, I asked, do you explain that to the public in a way that makes sense?
“Social networks,” he answered. “It’s a very tuned-in workforce. You’re never alone when you’re on or around a plane. ‘What is that guy spending all that time in the cockpit for?’ All airport employees know what normal is.” Hawley did say that TSA employees conduct random ID checks and magnetometer screenings, but he did not say how frequently.
I suppose I’ve seen too many movies, but, really? Social networks? Behavior detection? The TSA budget is almost $7 billion. That money would be better spent on the penetration of al-Qaeda social networks.
As I stood in the bathroom, ripping up boarding passes, waiting for the social network of male bathroom users to report my suspicious behavior, I decided to make myself as nervous as possible. I would try to pass through security with no ID, a fake boarding pass, and an Osama bin Laden T-shirt under my coat. I splashed water on my face to mimic sweat, put on a coat (it was a summer day), hid my driver’s license, and approached security with a bogus boarding pass that Schneier had made for me. I told the document checker at security that I had lost my identification but was hoping I would still be able to make my flight. He said I’d have to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor arrived; he looked smart, unfortunately. I was starting to get genuinely nervous, which I hoped would generate incriminating micro-expressions. “I can’t find my driver’s license,” I said. I showed him my fake boarding pass. “I need to get to Washington quickly,” I added. He asked me if I had any other identification. I showed him a credit card with my name on it, a library card, and a health-insurance card. “Nothing else?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“You should really travel with a second picture ID, you know.”
“Yes, sir,” I said.
“All right, you can go,” he said, pointing me to the X-ray line. “But let this be a lesson for you.”
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Re: Homeland Security
Reply #304 on:
November 10, 2008, 09:50:50 AM »
**Hope will be what passes for Homeland Security.**
The return of The Wall?
posted at 9:45 am on November 10, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
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The New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau takes a look at a potential Attorney General nominee in the nascent Barack Obama administration — and it’s a familiar face. Jamie S. Gorelick may be on Obama’s short list for AG, but she has been a familiar face during the Bush administration, too. Gorelick served under Janet Reno during the Clinton administration and played a critical role in blinding counterterrorism efforts prior to 9/11:
Would bring to the job: A wide-ranging Washington résumé that spans corporate, legal and national security affairs. Ms. Gorelick (pronounced Guh-REH-lick) was the No. 2 official at the Justice Department in the Clinton administration, from 1994 to 1997, and if chosen would be the second woman to be named attorney general, following her former boss, Janet Reno. Ms. Gorelick would also bring corporate experience to an Obama administration at a time of financial crisis.
Is linked to Mr. Obama by: Deep contacts in Democratic circles and a background in civil rights. But Ms. Gorelick backed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries and contributed early on to her campaign, which could work against her as a contender. She contributed $10,000 to Mr. Obama’s presidential political action committee in August, after his nomination was all but assured.
Gorelick would bring corporate experience to an Obama administration — in the same way Rahm Emanuel did. Gorelick was vice chairman at Fannie Mae in the years when the GSE fraudulently reported its income. She got a Friends of Angelo sweetheart mortgage for almost a million dollars in 2003, and is currently under investigation by the department she would run if nominated for AG.
But even without that taint of corruption, Gorelick would signal a return to incompetence and infighting. Gorelick played a major role in keeping counterterrorist and law-enforcement agents from sharing information and “connecting the dots” before 9/11. In a series of judgments at the DoD and at Justice during her tenure in the Clinton administration, Gorelick hamstrung our efforts to find and disarm terrorist infiltrators by discouraging any cooperation between intelligence and enforcement efforts by making “the wall” much more significant than Congress ever intended.
Gorelick wound up serving as a panelist on the 9/11 Commission, but she should have been served a subpoena instead. Two memos from Clinton-appointed US Attorney Mary Jo White made this point crystal clear, as did an explanation from someone involved for years in the counterterrorist effort. Gorelick imposed an unrealistic standard on intelligence gathering that led directly to the 9/11 attacks. As AG, she would have even more power to reimpose those same limitations, and leave us just as blind as we were before those attacks.
Obama ran on “hope and change”, but if Gorelick is what he had in mind, then he sold the US a bill of goods. It would make the second former GSE board member nominated to a high position in his administration, one who already has connections to Countrywide’s corruption and a federal probe into her actions. Gorelick also has failed in developing policies and strategies to keep the nation secure. She would be a disaster as AG, and if she really is on the short list, it shows how clueless Barack Obama is about the threats to this nation.
Be on the lookout for these individuals
Reply #305 on:
November 10, 2008, 10:23:33 AM »
Yeah, I remember Gorelick
Forgive my senior moment, but please refresh my memory as to what the GSE is , , ,
If things go right, most of the names in the following piece should go to source information:
D.C. Watson: Jihadists In America: Their “Inner Struggle” Goes On
D.C. Watson updates his "Misunderstanders of Islam" list:
While the professional protesters masquerading as moderate Islamic lobby groups continue to cry out in anguish as a result of the rabid, (and invented) “Islamophobia” epidemic they claim is sweeping across America and most other Western nations, more misunderstanders of their peaceful and tolerant faith continue to make their way onto this running, yet incomplete slate of Muslims in the United States who have conspired to, or managed to carry out, their “jihad,” and have either been arrested, convicted, are on the run, or are deceased.
It would benefit this nation if American politicians and the American mainstream press considered the well-being of the American people who elect them to office, and who read, watch, and listen to their media product, instead of giving credibility to bullies who have taken over America’s Islamic community and appointed themselves its leaders, and who have made it a common practice to condemn not those who want to see the United States destroyed, but instead to condemn Americans who step up to the plate and confront Islamic jihadists and their supporters.
Thus far, in this arena, politicians and news sources have been a disgrace. The American public deserves better, much better.
It would also benefit this nation if the press and politicians obtained the perspective of Muslims living in the United States who are not associated with organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, or the Islamic Society of North America.
And now, those who “struggle”:
Abdel Azim El Siddig: Financing Islamic terrorism (Missouri).
Abdelhaleem Ashqar: Criminal contempt and obstruction of justice for refusing to testify in 2003 before a grand jury investigating the Palestinian militant movement Hamas. Telephone records presented in the case records showed that Ashqar was in contact with Hamas leaders.
Abdikarim Warsame: Weapons and explosives charges. (Missouri)
Abdul Hakim Murad: Conspiring and attempting to bomb 12 airliners.
Abdul Rauf Noormohamed: Providing false terrorism tips to federal agents.
Abdurahman Alamoudi: Financing Islamic terrorism.
Adam Gadahn, convert to Islam: Treason.
Adham Hassoun: Conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people in a foreign country.
Adnan el-Shukrijumah: Wanted in connection with possible threats against the United States.
Agron Abdullahu: Conspiring to provide weapons to illegal immigrants.
Ahmad Abdelmomen: Aggravated assault, for beating his younger sister, breaking her back, and leaving her wheelchair bound because he was upset about her relationship with a non-Muslim boy. Their parents did not immediately call for medical assistance, believing that the beating was justified. (Michigan)
Ahmad Mustafa: Aiding Islamic terrorists (Missouri).
Ahmad Saad Nasim: Filing a false 'anti-Muslim' hate crime (Arizona).
Ahmed Abdel Sattar: Assisting an Islamic militant imprisoned in the United States with communicating with his followers in Egypt (New York).
Ahmed Barodi: Smuggling bogus passports into Saudi Arabia for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to aid the Taliban and to federal weapons charges. (Oregon)
Ahmed Mohamed: Teaching and demonstrating the making and use of an expolsive and destructive device, illegal transporting of explosive materials. (South Carolina)
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali: Terror-related charges, plotting to kill a U.S. President (Virginia).
Ahmed Ressam: Plotting to bomb the Los Angeles Airport on the eve of the new millennium.
Ali Abu Kamal: Shooting seven people on the Empire State Building's observation deck, killing one because he wanted to "punish America for supporting Israel."
Ali al-Timimi: Recruiting Islamic terrorists.
Ali Asad Chandia: Providing material support to terrorists or conspiring to do so.
Ali bin Mussalim: Investing funds for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida.
Ali Hussein Darwiche: Involvement in a cigarette-smuggling ring that sent profits to Hezbollah. (North Carolina)
Ali Khalid Steitiye: Weapons and fraud charges. (Oregon)
Ali Mohamed Bagegni: Financing Islamic terrorism (Missouri).
Ali Warrayat: Aggravated assault and arson. Warrayat, a Muslim and former student at Arizona State, with a Qur'an and a Palestinian flag in his trunk, rammed his car through the doors of an Arizona Home Depot store, drove through the store to the section that stocks the flammable liquids, and sets it ablaze. Why? He was unhappy with his raise. Also noted in police statements was that Warrayat had referred to his religion on several occasions, and that a Qur'an was hanging from the rearview mirror inside his vehicle.
Amir Abdelgani: Seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy and attempted bombing.
Amjad Abunar: Arson, reporting a false 'anti-Muslim' hate crime (Texas).
Ayoub Hisham Ahmed: RICO conspiracy (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) in a case involving funneling money obtained through bank fraud to Palestinian territories. (Missouri)
Bassam Hisham Ahmed: RICO conspiracy (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) in a case involving funneling money obtained through bank fraud to Palestinian territories. (Missouri)
Bassem Khafagi: Visa and Bank fraud. Khafagi was a founding member and president of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), an organization under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for terrorism-related activities. He was also a community relations director for CAIR.
Basel Saleh Salem Kassem: Charged with making a threat on a public conveyance, screaming that he had a bomb in his bag after getting into an argument with someone on an Amtrak train (Virginia).
Basman Elashi: Conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist (Texas).
Bayan Elashi: Conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist (Texas).
Chawki Hammoud: Involvement in a cigarette-smuggling ring that sent profits to Hezbollah. (North Carolina)
Christopher Paul, aka Abdul Malek, or Abdul Malik: Providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. (Ohio)
Clement Hampton-El: Seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy and attempted bombing (New York).
Dawud Salahuddin, convert to Islam: Murder of a critic of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, saying the killing was "an act of war and a religious duty." Fled to Iran after the murder he committed (Bethesda, Maryland).
Derrick Shareef, aka Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef: Attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the U.S.
Donald T. Surratt, convert to Islam: Conspiracy, terror support.
Dritan Duka: Conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel.
Earnest James Ujaama: Pleaded guilty of conspiring to supply goods and services to the Taliban.
Ehsanul Sadequee: Conspiring to provide and providing material support to terrorists. (Georgia)
Elbaneh Jaber: Pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to al Qaeda. (New York)
El-Sayyid Nosair: Seditious conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder of a postal police officer, use of a firearm in the commission of a murder.
Eljvir Duka: Conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel.
Emadeddin Z. Muntasser: Conspiracy to defraud the United States, tax violations, and making false statements by lying to the government to win tax-exempt status for Care International, an Islamic charity, and then using the nonprofit to distribute publications promoting jihad, and to support Muslim militants overseas. (Boston, Mass.)
Eman Zaeri: Threatening to blow up a local bus with a grenade in Las Vegas.
Fadil Abdelghani: Seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy, attempted
bombing. (New York).
Fadl Mohammad Maatouk: Conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization. (Florida)
Faisal Al-Salmi: Lying to the FBI when he denied knowing 9/11 hijacker, murderer Hani Hanjour, who flew American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon. (Faisal Al-Salmi and Hani Hanjour were registered at the same time to use a flight simulator at a Phoenix flight school.)
Fares Khallafalla: Seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy and attempted bombing. (New York).
Imam Fawaz Damra: Obtaining U.S. citizenship by providing false information, concealing his ties to designated Islamic terror organizations (Ohio).
Fawzi Assi: Attempting to provide support to a terrorist organization.
Faysal Galab: Contributing "funds, goods and services to and for the benefit of Osama bin Laden and al Qaida.
Ghandi Hisham Ahmed: RICO conspiracy (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) in a case involving funneling money obtained through bank fraud to Palestinian territories. (Missouri)
Ghassan Elashi: Conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist (Texas).
Gregory Vernon Patterson, convert to Islam: Plotting terrorist attacks against synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and military facilities in Los Angeles.
Habis Abdullah Al-Saoub: Seditious conspiracy, supplying goods to the Taliban. (Deceased).
Haider Mohammed: While in a bar in Palm Springs, began to yell that he was going to “kill all Jews."
Hamid Hayat: Providing material support to terrorists, lying to the FBI.
Hammad Abdur-Raheem: Providing material support to a known terrorist organization.
Hammad Riaz Samana: Plotting terrorist attacks against synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and military facilities in Los Angeles.
Hasan Akbar: Murder of fellow U.S. soldiers.
Hassan Abujihaad, fka Paul R. Hall, former U.S. Sailor: Supporting terrorism with intent to kill U.S. citizens, transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.
Hassan Moussa Makki: Pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and providing material support to Hezbollah. (North Carolina, Michigan)
Hazim Elashi: Conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist. (Texas).
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet: With a .45 caliber firearm, went on a shooting spree at the Los Angeles International Airport while standing in line at the ticket counter of Israel's El Al Airlines, killing two people, including a 20-year-old unarmed woman. He also wounded four others, shooting an unarmed 61-year-old woman, pistol whipping an unarmed man, and stabbing a security guard with a six inch long knife he was also carrying. Side note: The wife of the murderer blamed the United States and its "hate for Islam" for the attack, saying that her spouse was a "victim of injustice."
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet: With a .45 caliber firearm, went on a shooting spree at the Los Angeles International Airport while standing in line at the ticket counter of Israel's El Al Airlines, killing two people, including a 20-year-old unarmed woman. He also wounded four others, shooting an unarmed 61-year-old woman, pistol whipping an unarmed man, and stabbing a security guard with a six inch long knife he was also carrying. Side note: The wife of the murderer blamed the United States and its "hate for Islam" for the attack, saying that her spouse was a "victim of injustice."
target="_blank">Hussein Ali Nure: Weapons and explosives charges. (Missouri)
Ibrahim Abu Mezer: Plotting to bomb New York subways.
Ibrahim Ahmed, Nashville, TN cab driver: Assault and attempted homicide, when after an argument with two non-Muslim passengers over religion, he attempted to run them over as they walked away from the taxi. He succeeded in critically injuring one.
Ibraham Ahmed al-Hamdi: "Virginia Jihad Network", weapons and explosives violations, carrying a rocket-propelled grenade in furtherance of a conspiracy to undertake a military operation against India. (Virginia).
Ibrahim A. Elgabrowny: Seditious conspiracy; assault of a Federal agent and city police detective. (New York).
Ihsan Elashyi: Illegal sales of computer equipment to known Islamic terror sponsoring states (Texas).
Ismail Yassin Mohamed while driving a stolen black Chevy Cavalier, he began intentionally ramming a blue and white taxi cab for several blocks until the cab crashed. The passenger inside the cab was critically injured. Mohamed then took off in the Cavalier and crashed it into a business. He then got out of the car and stole a school van. The driver of the van managed to get an 8-year-old boy out of the vehicle before Mohamed drove off with it. Mohamed crashed the van into another group of cars. Authorities said Mohamed was trying steal another car when witnesses pinned him down and waited for police. When asked why he did this, Mohamed replied..."Allah made me do it." Police ruled out road rage as a motive (Minneapolis).
Iyman Faris: Providing material support and resources to al Qaida (Virginia).
Imam Jamil Al-Amin: Murder, felony murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, obstructing a law enforcement officer, impersonating an officer, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Jeffrey Leon Battle: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to levy war against the United States. (Oregon)
John Muhammad, sniper: Murdering Americans by sniper fire.
John Walker Lindh, convert to Islam: Providing support to the Taliban.
Jose Padilla/aka Abdullah al-Muhajir: Terrorism conspiracy.
Kevin James, convert to Islam: Plotting terrorist attacks against synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and military facilities in Los Angeles.
Karim Moussaoui: Possession or receiving of a firearm by a person admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa.
Kifah Jayoussi: Conspiring to provide material support and resources for terrorism and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or damage property in a foreign country.
Lafi Khalil: Plotting to bomb New York subways.
Levar Haney Washington, convert to Islam: Plotting terrorist attacks against synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and military facilities in Los Angeles.
target="_blank">Maher Hawash: Conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban.
target="_blank">Mahmet M. Kadayifci: First and second-degree charges of falsely reporting an incident, and using a laptop to place the three bomb threats.
Mahmoud Kourani: Supporting the Islamic terror organization, Hezbollah, through fund-raising.
Mahmud Faruq Brent: Conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
Mandhai Jokhan: Attempting to blow up nuclear power plants in Florida.
Masoud Ahmad Kahn: Conspiracy to levy war against the United States, providing support to the Taliban.
Mazhar Tabesh: Arson, reporting a false 'anti-Muslim' hate crime (Utah).
Michael Julius Ford, convert to Islam: Opened fire at a warehouse in Denver, Colorado, killing one and injuring four others because he was "teased for being a Muslim and couldn't take it anymore."
Mir Aimal Kasi: Murdering two CIA agents, and wounding three others with an assault rifle near CIA headquarters. (Virginia)
Mirza Akram: Arson, reporting a false 'anti-Muslim' hate crime (Washington state).
Mohamad Atef Darwiche: Involvement in a cigarette-smuggling ring that sent profits to Hezbollah. (North Carolina)
target="_blank">Mohamad Fouad Abdallah: Sending anti-Semitic e-mails threatening rape and death to conservative TV commentator and blogger Debbie Schlussel. (Michigan)
Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer: Conspiring to kill uniformed military personnel.
target="_blank">Mohamed Judeh: Weapons and explosives charges. (Missouri)
Mohamed Shorbagi: Pleaded guilty in federal court to providing material support to Hamas with donations through the Holy Land Foundation. (Georgia)
Mohammed Ali Alayed: After experiencing a religious awakening, he murdered his Jewish friend by slashing his throat.
Mohammed Al Hassan al-Moayad: Attempting to fund terrorist organizations (New York).
Mohammed Badwan: RICO conspiracy (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) in a case involving funneling money obtained through bank fraud to Palestinian territories. (Missouri)
Mohammed Hammoud: Providing material support for Hezbollah (North Carolina).
Mohammed Junair Babar: Pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiring to provide material support to Al Qaeda. (New York)
Mohammed Khalil Ghali: Conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S.
Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed: Conspiring to provide material support to the al-Qaeda and Hamas terrorist groups.
Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar: Nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to cause bodily injury after plowing a sport utility vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians, saying he wanted to "spread the will of Allah" (North Carolina).
Mohammed Saleh: Seditious conspiracy, bombing conspiracy and attempted bombing. (New York).
Mohammed Yousry: Providing material aid to terrorism and conspiring to deceive the government.
Mousa Abuelawi: Weapons and explosives charges. (Missouri)
Mubarak Hamed: Financing Islamic terrorism (Missouri).
Muhamed Mubayyid: Making false statements to the FBI, conspiracy to defraud the United States, tax violations, and making false statements by lying to the government to win tax-exempt status for Care International, an Islamic charity, and then using the nonprofit to distribute publications promoting jihad, and to support Muslim militants overseas. (Boston, Mass.)
Muhammed Aatique: Commencing a military expedition against a friendly nation, and using and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.
Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal: Conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban. (Oregon)
target="_blank">Muhammad Salah: Obstruction of justice for lying under oath on a written questionnaire involving the shooting death in Israel of an American teenager, David Boim, who was killed by Hamas in 1996 while standing at a bus stop.
Mukhtar al-Bakri: Providing material support to al Qaeda.
Muthanna Al-Hanooti: Conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country, illegally purchasing Iraqi oil and lying to authorities after arranging a visit to Baghdad by three Democratic U.S. congressmen financed by Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Last Edit: November 10, 2008, 11:18:55 AM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #306 on:
November 10, 2008, 05:00:55 PM »
GSE= Government Sponsored Enterprise
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #307 on:
November 30, 2008, 10:16:08 AM »
Ariz. Muslim leaders face increased FBI scrutiny
Monitoring grew after charity probe, 2 incidents
by Sean Holstege and Dennis Wagner - Nov. 16, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
The FBI has sharpened its scrutiny of some Phoenix-area Muslim leaders because of their links to two controversial incidents and a federal probe into the financing of terrorist groups.
No Arizonan has been accused of supporting terrorist groups or actions. However, a Mesa man was charged with lying to the FBI during the financing investigation.
The events that triggered the stepped-up scrutiny were the federal probe into a Muslim charity accused of funneling money to the Palestinian group Hamas; a target-shooting episode in Phoenix this year involving a large group of Muslim men and boys firing hundreds of rounds from AK-47s and other guns; and the high-profile removal in 2006 of six Arizona-bound imams from a jetliner after passengers and crew complained of their behavior.
Although some Islamic leaders say they understand the scrutiny, they also view it as another sign that innocent Muslims unjustly fall under suspicion because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"Whoever did Sept. 11, go after them and see who they are. I'm not going to pay for them. I'm not going to be guilty," said Marwan Sadeddin, one of the Valley imams who sued US Airways after being removed from a jetliner in Minneapolis. Like the others, he was questioned by FBI agents after the incident, in addition to being questioned about the arrested Mesa man.
The FBI is monitoring the family and community ties among Valley residents involved in the jetliner, shooting and charity probes, said John Lewis, who runs the FBI's Arizona office.
"All of these things come on our scope," said Lewis, the agency's former head of counterterrorism operations.
The FBI routinely watches communities and groups that show patterns of radicalism seen in terrorism cases in the U.S. and Europe; those include radical Islamic theology, anti-Western political rhetoric and fundraising tied to terrorist groups.
Lewis declined to discuss any details of the agency's monitoring activities.
The only Arizonan arrested by the FBI is Akram Musa Abdallah of Mesa. He was indicted by a grand jury in August on one count of lying to FBI agents. The government contended in court documents that Abdallah falsely told agents he had not raised money in the 1990s for the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity that President Bush shut down in 2001.
Five founders of the Texas-based charity are on trial in Dallas on charges of steering $12 million to Hamas after the U.S. declared it a terrorist group.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and Muslim who founded an organization to counter radical Islamic teachings, said Abdallah's arrest, the target-shooting episode and what he says are the imams' extreme views bear vigilance.
"You can't help wonder where this is going," he added.
Shortly before noon on a sunny Sunday in March, two Toyota SUVs rolled to a stop along a dirt road in north Phoenix.
About 20 young Muslim males climbed out, armed with assault rifles, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and handguns. The location near Happy Valley Road and 51st Avenue is a desert recreation site for off-road motorists, hikers and bikers, dozens of whom were enjoying the spring-like weather.
For more than an hour, the shooters blasted away at a granite rock and empty cans in front of a hill.
Officials estimate the fusillade totaled 500 to 1,000 rounds. Some shooters left before police arrived and detained 10 adults and five boys, including an 11-year-old.
The young men and boys told officers the weapons belonged to their parents. They said they were not aware it was illegal to use firearms in the residential area.
Six were arrested and charged with felony weapons violations in Maricopa County Superior Court. Among them were the 20- and 21-year-old sons of two imams at Phoenix-area mosques, as well as the 20-year-old son of Abdallah.
Phoenix police then notified the Arizona Counter Terrorism Center, a clearinghouse for intelligence, and the case was referred to the FBI, Lewis confirmed. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was called to trace the guns, its Arizona chief said.
Soliman Saadeldin, brother of one of the imams on the jetliner and a board member at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, was not surprised by the reaction.
"Twenty Muslims? Of course the FBI, the CIA and the White House would be worried," Saadeldin said.
Valley Islamic leaders were furious at the youngsters, he added, knowing how the incident might be perceived.
"I'm one of those who got mad at them. (But) they went over there just to have fun shooting. ... It's showing off more than anything else," Saadeldin said.
He described the target shooting as merely bad judgment by a group of young guys out for a good time.
The Abdallah case
The FBI's scrutiny of Abdallah came to light in January 2007, when agents raided his Mesa house and loaded what a neighbor said was two vans full of evidence.
Court records show that Abdallah, a 54-year-old Palestinian, denied during interrogation that he had been a fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation during the 1990s, when the Islamic charity could still legally receive donations.
At the time of the raid, federal investigators were pursuing a criminal case against the foundation based on allegations that it had channeled money to Palestinian terrorists. The organization had been banned after the 9/11 attacks.
The Abdallah case points to the FBI's continued interest in Arizonans who have raised money for any charity suspected of supporting militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
For many years, several mosques in Phoenix and Tucson legally raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States.
Islamic civil-rights groups argue that Muslim Americans donated to the charities to support hospitals and orphanages in the West Bank and Gaza. Although Hamas and Hezbollah have organized attacks against Israeli civilians, their humanitarian missions are central to Palestinians' fight for survival, civil-rights groups say.
The federal government charged the foundation's leaders with raising $12 million for Hamas. The first trial in Dallas ended in October 2007 with a deadlocked jury, a stunning setback for the government's biggest-ever terrorism financing case. A new trial has gone to the jury.
Abdallah is not a witness or defendant in that case. But as the FBI looked into Holy Land Foundation contributions, he was indicted in August on one count of lying about the fundraising to federal agents. An FBI tactical squad swarmed into a northwest Phoenix cafe to arrest him. Abdallah pleaded not guilty and was released without bail. No trial date has been set.
Abdallah, a naturalized citizen who arrived in the country in the late 1970s, did not return calls.
His 20-year-old son, Saiaf, is one of the half-dozen suspects facing felony charges from the target shooting. The younger Abdallah declined to comment except to say, "In the past five to six years, Muslims have been falsely accused of many things."
The saga of the six traveling imams touched off a national controversy and attracted federal scrutiny. Much of the focus has been on the group's spokesman, Omar Shahin.
Shahin, who lives in Phoenix and presides over the North American Imams Foundation, led the Arizona delegation of six imams to its conference in Minneapolis in 2006. After boarding the return flight to Phoenix, passengers and crew reported that the men chanted loudly to Allah and spoke angrily about President Bush and America's war in Iraq.
All six imams were handcuffed and later interrogated, then released with no charges. US Airways banned the men from future flights.
Shahin led a news conference to condemn prejudice against Muslims. The imams later sued the airline, airport police and an FBI agent, claiming they had been degraded and humiliated unlawfully. US Airways officials have said they acted appropriately. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Shahin's involvement was one factor that drew the FBI's attention to the case and intensified its interest in Muslims' activities in Arizona.
A strident scholar of Islamic law and prolific charity fundraiser, the 47-year-old Shahin had been under the FBI's microscope before but has never been accused of wrongdoing.
In the late 1980s, Shahin served as imam at the Islamic Center of Tucson, where he headed a Muslim youth group. The mosque was a hub for adherents to the radical Wahhabi school of Islam, some of whom later became important aides to Osama bin Laden in the al-Qaida terrorist group.
Weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Shahin, a Jordanian-born naturalized citizen, said he did not believe Muslims were responsible for destroying the World Trade Center and questioned the accuracy of the FBI's list of hijackers.
While in Tucson, Shahin raised money for the Holy Land Foundation before the group was outlawed. He also was a fundraiser for the Illinois-based KindHearts Foundation, which the government shut down last year for alleged support of Hamas.
According to tax records, Shahin was a paid employee of a third charity, the Michigan-based Life and Relief Development Inc. In September 2006, FBI counter-terrorism agents seized $134,000 in cash from the home of the charity's founder as part of a fraud case related to the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal. The charity remains open.
Shahin has served as a Muslim community liaison with the FBI and the Phoenix police. A book released by Shahin last year advocated that Muslims living in Western society follow a strict version of conservative Sharia law.
"A Muslim must try his best to abide by the rulings of Sharia whenever possible as much as he can. He should not allow himself to be liable to those western laws that contradict the clear-cut Islamic rulings," Shahin wrote.
Throughout the book, Shahin quotes an extremist Islamic scholar who studied under the man widely credited with inspiring al-Qaida. The scholar was a speaker at Holy Land Foundation events, prosecutors in the Dallas case said in court this year. They showed jurors photos of the man with Hamas and Hezbollah leaders and in videos preaching to kill Jews.
Shahin declined to comment in detail on his writings, the jetliner incident or the fundraising case. He is the father of one of the young men arrested in the Phoenix target shooting, Oday Shahin, 20. Another imam stopped in Minneapolis, Mahmoud Sulaiman, 51, a Syrian native, also has a son who was at the scene of the target shooting but was not arrested, a Phoenix police report stated.
Shahin and his son share other connections with people involved in events that drew the FBI's interest. Omar and Oday Shahin work with a third imam from the plane, Didmar Faja, a 28-year-old Albanian, at a conservative Islamic school in south Phoenix. Saiaf Abdallah, son of Akram Abdallah, accused of lying to the FBI, also works there, and his mother is a board member.
Shahin declined to comment except to say that his son's target-shooting arrest is "no big deal" and to caution against drawing unfair conclusions. "All I want to say is there is no connection between these things."
Civil libertarians, Muslim advocates and Valley imams all point out that even extreme political views don't equate to potential violence.
Marwan Sadeddin said the nation is teeming with Americans who hate President Bush's policies. So why can't he despise U.S. support for Israel, condemn terrorism and love America at the same time?
"The foreign policy is wrong," Sadeddin said. "That's my personal opinion. That doesn't mean I'm going to try to change it by force. I'm using my constitutional right to think the way I like."
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #308 on:
December 01, 2008, 12:08:40 PM »
***The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials***
If Bush was doing this the left would be going nuts.
"or other domestic catastrophe" like?
cynical: maybe this is in recognition that we will weaken our abilities overseas so that terrorism is more likely to come here now that BO is weak.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #309 on:
December 01, 2008, 02:02:48 PM »
Please read the entire article before pointing the finger at the incoming administration:
in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade
, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
In late 2007,
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a directive approving more than $556 million over five years to set up the three response teams, known as CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces.
What will happen to Posse Comitatus?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #310 on:
December 01, 2008, 04:57:52 PM »
Haven't read the article but what Mig says here resonates with my sense of this issue.
I would add a point that is very important to me: As I remember this issue, the Dems often posture militantly on this subject but quite often it is advocated from a "Flee the world and hide and home" emotional center.
Regardless, the facts are the facts-- this IS something for which we need to dial up.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #311 on:
December 02, 2008, 08:59:58 AM »
Speak of the devil , , ,
Panel warns biological attack likely by 2013
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writer 31 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The United States can expect a terrorist attack using nuclear or more likely biological weapons before 2013, reports a bipartisan commission in a study being briefed Tuesday to Vice President-elect Joe Biden. It suggests the Obama administration bolster efforts to counter and prepare for germ warfare by terrorists.
"Our margin of safety is shrinking, not growing," states the report, obtained by The Associated Press. It is scheduled to be publicly released Wednesday.
The commission is also encouraging the new White House to appoint one official on the National Security Council to exclusively coordinate U.S. intelligence and foreign policy on combating the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.
The report of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, led by former Sens. Bob Graham of Florida and Jim Talent of Missouri, acknowledges that terrorist groups still lack the needed scientific and technical ability to make weapons out of pathogens or nuclear bombs. But it warns that gap can be easily overcome, if terrorists find scientists willing to share or sell their know-how.
"The United States should be less concerned that terrorists will become biologists and far more concerned that biologists will become terrorists," the report states.
The commission believes biological weapons are more likely to be obtained and used before nuclear or radioactive weapons because nuclear facilities are more carefully guarded. Civilian laboratories with potentially dangerous pathogens abound, however, and could easily be compromised.
"The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device," states the report.
It notes that the U.S. government's counterproliferation activities have been geared toward preventing nuclear terrorism. The commission recommends the prevention of biological terrorism be made a higher priority.
Study chairman Graham said anthrax remains the most likely biological weapon. However, he told the AP that contagious diseases — like the flu strain that killed 40 million at the beginning of the 20th century — are looming threats. That virus has been recreated in scientific labs, and there remains no inoculation to protect against it if is stolen and released.
Graham said the threat of a terrorist attack using nuclear or biological weapons is growing "not because we have not done positive things but because adversaries are moving at an even faster pace to increase their access" to those materials.
He noted last week's rampage by a small group of gunmen in Mumbai.
"If those people had had access to a biological or nuclear weapon they would have multiplied by orders of magnitude the deaths they could have inflicted," he said.
Al-Qaida remains the only terrorist group judged to be actively intent on conducting a nuclear attack against the United States, the report notes. It is not yet capable of building such a weapon and has yet to obtain one. But that could change if a nuclear weapons engineer or scientist were recruited to al-Qaida's cause, the report warns.
The report says the potential nexus of terrorism, nuclear and biological weapons is especially acute in Pakistan.
"Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report states.
In fact, commission members were forced to cancel their trip to Pakistan this fall. The Islamabad Marriott Hotel that commission members were to stay in was blown up by terrorist bombs just hours before they were to check in.
"We think time is not our ally. The (United States) needs to move with a sense of urgency," Graham said.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #312 on:
December 03, 2008, 08:29:02 PM »
From the New York Landmarks Plot to the Mumbai Attack
December 3, 2008
By Fred Burton and Ben West
On the surface, last week’s attack on Mumbai was remarkable for its execution and apparently unconventional tactics. But when compared to a plot uncovered 15 years ago that targeted prominent hotels in Manhattan, it becomes apparent that the Mumbai attack was not so original after all.
The 1993 New York Landmarks Plot
In July 1993, U.S. counterterrorism agents arrested eight individuals later convicted of plotting an elaborate, multistage attack on key sites in Manhattan. The militants, who were linked to Osama bin Laden’s then-relatively new group, al Qaeda, planned to storm the island armed with automatic rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In multiple raids on key targets combined with diversionary attacks, they aimed to kill as many people as possible.
The planned attack, which came to be known as the “Landmarks” plot, called for several tactical teams to raid sites such as the Waldorf-Astoria, St. Regis and U.N. Plaza hotels, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and a midtown Manhattan waterfront heliport servicing business executives and VIPs traveling from lower Manhattan to various New York-area airports. The militants carried out extensive surveillance both inside and outside the target hotels using human probes, hand-drawn maps and video surveillance. Detailed notes were taken on the layout and design of the buildings, with stairwells, ballrooms, security cameras and personnel all reconnoitered.
The attackers intended to infiltrate the hotels and disguise themselves as kitchen employees. On the day of the attack, one attack team planned to use stolen delivery vans to get close to the hotels, at which point heavily armed, small-cell commando teams would deploy from the rear of the van. Stationary operatives would use hand grenades to create diversions while attack teams would rake hotel guests with automatic weapons. The attackers planned to carry gas masks and use tear gas in hotel ballrooms to gain an advantage over any security they might come up against. They planned to attack at night, when the level of protection would be lower.
The targeted hotels host some of the most prestigious guests in Manhattan. These could have included diplomats like the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who traditionally keeps an apartment in the Waldorf-Astoria, or even the U.S. secretary of state, who is known to stay at the Waldorf during U.N. sessions. They also host various business leaders. If successful, the attackers doubtless would have killed many high-profile individuals key to New York’s stature as a center for financial and diplomatic dealings.
Meanwhile, the plots to detonate explosives in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels would have blocked critical transportation infrastructure, sowing chaos in the city as key escape routes were closed off. And VIPs seeking to escape the city via the midtown heliport would have been thwarted by the attack planned for that location. In fact, the heliport attack was planned to be carried out using watercraft, which also could have been used to target transport ferries, further disrupting transportation in and out of Manhattan. The New York City Police Department could plausibly even have quarantined Manhattan to prevent the attackers from fleeing the city.
With the city shut down and gunmen running amok, the financial center of the United States would have been thrown into chaos and confusion until the attackers were detained or killed. The attacks thus would have undermined the security and effectiveness of New York as a center for financial and diplomatic dealings.
At the time, U.S. counterterrorism officials deemed that the attack would have had a 90 percent success rate. Disaster, then, was averted when federal agents captured the plotters planning the Landmarks attack thanks to an informant who had infiltrated the group. Along with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing just four months earlier, which killed six people but was intended to bring down both towers, the United States dodged a major bullet that could have been devastating to New York.
The Nov. 26 Mumbai Attack
A little more than fifteen years later, the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai closely followed the script of the New York plot. Militants armed with AK-47s, grenades and military-grade explosives carried out a very logistically sophisticated and coordinated attack on the financial capital of India.
(click to view map)
Clearly, the Mumbai attack involved extensive preoperational surveillance. Attackers had maps of the targeted hotels, and according to the Indian Marine Commandos who raided the Taj Mahal hotel, the militants moved around as if they knew the hotel’s layout by heart. Advance members of the attack teams had already taken up positions in the hotels, stockpiling firearms, ammunition, grenades and food that were quickly accessed and used to maintain the attackers’ positions in the hotels. One of the attackers reportedly also had taken a job as an intern chef in the Taj Mahal hotel kitchen, so his movements raised less suspicion and he had a detailed knowledge of the entry points and corridors. For such attacks, preparedness is key, and escaping alive is a long shot. The attackers therefore must have been highly motivated and willing to die — a rare combination that requires immense amounts of training and ideological zeal.
At least two teams entered the city by watercraft, breaking up into smaller groups as they made their way to the Taj Mahal hotel, Oberoi-Trident hotel complex and Nariman (also known as Chabad) House, a Jewish center in the same area of Mumbai. These tactical teams dispersed across the city, attacking prominent sites where foreign VIPs were sure to be present. They infiltrated the hotels through back entrances and kitchens, thus enhancing the element of surprise as they opened fire on guests in the dining areas and atriums of the hotels.
Beyond killing people and holding hostages in Mumbai’s most prestigious hotels, other attack teams assaulted additional strategic sites in Mumbai, creating a sense of chaos and confusion over the whole city. Mumbai’s main train station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, as well as Cama Hospital, offices of The Times of India newspaper, restaurants, a theater, and bars frequented by foreigners also were attacked. The attackers’ excellent coordination — the multiple attacks took place nearly simultaneously — thus ensured maximum confusion and chaos, frustrating police responses. This could explain in part why operations like those at Nariman House and the hotels lasted for more than 48 hours.
Similarities between New York and Mumbai
The similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack are quite obvious. In symbolic terms, as the Mumbai attack unfolded, many onlookers said that an attack on Mumbai is to India what an attack on New York is to Americans. In more concrete terms, the targets, methods, weapons and geography involved were similar (if not identical), and the unconventional style of the attacks points to a common author.
U.S. counterterrorism forces in 1995 detained Landmarks plot mastermind Ramzi Yousef, who remains in U.S. federal prison. But his ideas obviously did not stay behind bars. This illustrates how a plan’s initial failure does not mean the threat has been eliminated. Indeed, Stratfor observed in 2005 that the 1993 Landmarks plot (among others) should not be discounted, as al Qaeda or other terrorist groups are known to return to past targets and plot scenarios.
The similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack exist at several levels.
The first relates to the target set. Both New York and Mumbai are the respective financial centers of their countries and home to their nations’ major stock exchanges. In both cities, the planners had picked out high-profile soft targets — sites that have less security personnel and countermeasures than, say, a military installation or key government building. Softer security means gaining access to strategic assets and people is easier. Stratfor has long stressed the importance of maintaining vigilance at soft targets like hote ls that cater to international guests, as these are likely targets for militant Islamists. Both plans also involved infiltrating hotel staff and booking rooms in the hotels to gain inside information and store supplies.
The second similarity involves how both plans included peripheral targets to cause confusion and chaos and thus create a diversion from the main targets. In Mumbai, transportation infrastructure like the city’s main railway station was attacked, and militants detonated explosive devices in taxis and next to gasoline pumps. Meanwhile, roving gunmen attacked other sites around the city. In a country where coordination among first responders is already weak, the way the attackers fanned out across the city caused massive chaos and distracted security forces from the main prize: the hotels. Attacking Cama Hospital also sowed chaos, as the injured from one scene of attack became the targets of another while being rescued.
A third similarity exists in the geography of the two cities. In both plots, the use of watercraft is a distinctive tactical similarity. Watercraft gave militants access at unconventional locations where security would be more lax. Both Mumbai (a peninsula) and Manhattan (an island) offer plenty of points where militants can mount assaults from watercraft. Such an attack would not have worked in New Delhi or Bangalore; these are landlocked cities where militants would have had to enter by road, a route much more likely to encounter police patrols. Being centers of trade and surrounded by water, both Mumbai and New York have high levels of maritime traffic. This means infiltrating the area from the water would raise minimal suspicions, especially if the craft were registered locally (as was the case in the Mumbai attack). Such out-of-the box tactics take advantage of security services, which often tend to focus on established threats.
A fourth similarity lies in transportation. In addition to using watercraft, both plots involved the use of deceptive vehicles to maneuver around the city undetected. The Landmark plotters used taxis to conduct surveillance and planned on using a delivery van to approach the hotels. In Mumbai, the attackers planted bombs in taxis, and at least one group of militants hijacked a police van and used it to carry out attacks across the city. Using familiar vehicles like taxis, delivery vans or police vans to carry out surveillance or attacks reduces suspicion and increases the element of surprise, allowing militants to stay under cover until the moment of attack.
An Off-the-Shelf Plan
As indicated, the striking similarities between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack suggest that Ramzi Yousef and other early al Qaeda operatives who helped prepare the Landmarks plot in New York authored the Mumbai plan. Considering that the militants launched their original attack from Karachi, Pakistan, and the previous involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency — which has connections with al Qaeda leaders in western Pakistan — it is very likely that al Qaeda in Pakistan at least provided the blueprints for this attack. On-the-ground operations like training, surveillance and the actual attack appear to have been carried out by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba in connection with Indian Islamist groups.
Here we see more evidence of the existence of an ideological or strategic battle space that exists in the radical Islamist world, which has been greatly influenced by al Qaeda. Like a contingency plan that might sit on the shelf for years or decades before it is useful, terrorist plots (especially good ones) can have a long shelf life and be applied in various scenarios. In fact, plans that sit on the shelf longer might actually be more effective as security officials focus their attention on evolving threats and forget old ones.
Just because a plot has been disrupted, the threat has not been eliminated. Once terrorists happen upon a successful model, they are likely to follow that model. This can be seen in al Qaeda’s return to the World Trade Center in 2001, eight years after the initial truck bomb attacks in 1993. It can also be seen in the fact that Mumbai has been the target of multiple attacks and threats, including train bombings in 2006 that killed approximately 200 people. Though the tactics might have differed, the target set remained the same. Various parts of the attack cycle can change, but rarely does an attack occur that is completely novel.
Ultimately, the biggest difference between the Landmarks plot and the Mumbai attack is that the Mumbai attack succeeded. The failure of the Landmarks plot probably provided key lessons to the planners of the Mumbai attack, who were able to carry out the stages of the attack without detection and with the full element of surprise. Gauging by the success of the Mumbai incident, we can expect similar strategies and tactics in future attacks.
Recruitment of Somalis in North America
Reply #313 on:
December 09, 2008, 01:14:56 PM »
No idea yet about this website's reliability:
Recruitment from...Canada for Islamic terror training continues
Young Muslim men are being recruited from mosques and Islamic Centers in the U.S., Canada for terrorist training. They are beginning to return, some in plastic bags.
By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director
5 December 2008 The Northeast Intelligence Network confirmed Thursday that there is a nationwide investigation being conducted by the FBI of young men from Somalia being trained as suicide bombers and “low-tech attackers” for use inside the U.S. The investigation began last summer when authorities noticed a trend of Somali immigrants “disappearing” from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. According to initial reports, about four dozen men ranging between the ages of 17 and 35 have “gone missing” within the last several months in the Minneapolis area alone. One federal law enforcement official, speaking on the strict condition of anonymity to the Northeast Intelligence Network, confirmed that this trend is neither exclusive to Minneapolis nor Somalia immigrants, but it was first noticed there. The investigation was further punctuated by the death of suicide bomber and Minnesota resident Shirwa AHMED. AHMED, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was one of five Muslim terrorists who killed 29 people in northern Somalia on October 29.
AHMED, pictured at left, was buried this week in Burnsville, a suburban community south of the Minneapolis- St. Paul area. AHMED’s remains were transported back to the U.S. with the help of the FBI after DNA tests established his identity. According to news reports, the FBI is investigating the “disappearance” of young men from Somalia by “ reaching out to the Somali-American community” in search of additional information. The FBI admits that they are looking into the disappearance of 20-40 young Somalia men from Minnesota, but unofficial reports by a federal source close to the Northeast Intelligence Network places that number much higher.
“There is active recruitment from mosques, Islamic centers and over the Internet calling young men from the U.S. and Canada to ‘train for Jihad as their religious duty,’” stated this official. The plan is to have these young men trained in the handling of weapons and explosives, and sending them back to the U.S. and Canada to engage in low-tech attacks against “soft targets,” such as malls, shopping centers, and other crowded locations.
The Northeast Intelligence Network has been warning readers about homicide bombers coming to the U.S. and Canada for years, with expedited recruitment within the past 36 months. We are now beginning to see the evolution of this recruitment and training as it manifests into results, such as the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai. It will not be long before we see it in North America.
In a closely related vein, here's this from the local FOX station:
Last Edit: December 09, 2008, 01:38:20 PM by Crafty_Dog
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #314 on:
December 09, 2008, 05:18:05 PM »
December 09, 2008, 4:30 p.m.
Why Does KSM Want to be Executed?
By Andrew C. McCarthy
We don’t understand our enemies any better than we did when they first strode out on that great American stage, the federal courtroom, 15 years ago.
That is the upshot of Monday’s latest episode in Mohammed’s March to Martyrdom, a dreadful show that should close in Cuba before ever making it to the Great White Way. Five top al-Qaeda terrorists told a military judge at Guantanamo Bay that they want to skip their commission trial, admit — no, brag about — their guilt, and proceed straight to execution and its promised eternity of Boogie Nights.
Mohammed, of course, is none other than KSM, the black artist formerly known as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. That was before he orchestrated the 9/11 atrocities, vaulting into that small circle of celebrity where the initials are all you need to know. Infamy is the achievement of a lifetime for this Baluchi marauder turned courtroom diva. It’s what he has always craved: to be known . . . and feared.
In the mid-Nineties, he was just an up-and-comer: anteing up a paltry $660 for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, then co-designing the off-off-Broadway run of Bojinka: an ambitious 1994 production designed to slaughter hundreds of Americans by exploding their cross-Pacific flights in midair — a production that collapsed when a preview detonation failed to bring down the plane, though it did manage to kill a Japanese tourist.
KSM was green with envy when those pilots became star turns for other terrorists: his mad-scientist nephew, Ramzi Yousef, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the capo di tutti jihadi known in America’s living rooms as “the Blind Sheikh.”
Back in those days, KSM couldn’t get himself arrested. Or at least the FBI couldn’t get him arrested. That was thanks to Qatar, another of our ambivalent Arab “allies” in the war on terror. The emirate is an authoritarian sharia-state and jihadist financial hub — though you may know it better as the home of al-Jezeera, the Muslim world’s virulently anti-American media giant to which KSM once served as al-Qaeda’s official liaison.
A U.S.-educated engineer, KSM had a government job in Qatar’s ministry of electricity and water when he was tipped off in 1996 that the Americans were closing in. In the nick of time, he fled to Afghanistan. That’s where Osama bin Laden, having recently worn out his welcome in Sudan, was just setting up shop.
The rest, as they say, is history. Years later, while confirming his status as an enemy combatant, KSM recounted how he’d become al-Qaeda’s “military operational commander” for all foreign operations, running the 9/11 attacks “from A to Z.”
And that was just the warm-up. Mohammed took charge of the cell that managed production of biological weapons and radiological “dirty bombs.” He planned an unconsummated “second-wave” of suicide-hijacking attacks on the Israeli city of Elat, iconic sites in Great Britain, and the U.S. — where the Empire State Building and other skyscrapers in Chicago, San Francisco and the state of Washington were targeted. KSM directed the bombing of a hotel frequented by Israelis in Mombassa, Kenya — and, for good measure, shot a surface-to-air missile near Mombassa’s airport, barely missing a departing El-Al flight. He plotted bomb strikes against America’s domestic financial centers; American naval ships and oil tankers in Singapore and the Straits of Hormuz and Gibraltar; and American embassies in Japan, Australia, and Indonesia. The list (which you can find at pages 17-18 of the combatant hearing transcript, here) goes on and on.
KSM is going to be put to death. He knows it and we know it. The same is true of his four underlings. The question is not if but when.
These legal proceedings, then, are simply theater. For the Left, that means projecting shopworn themes under the guise of thoughtfully pondering the purpose of the jihadists’ procedural maneuvering. Is KSM scheming to challenge our new president’s redoubling of Islamic outreach? Is he daring Obama to kick off the promised era of good feeling by executing Muslims, even as the new administration backpedals from campaign commitments to shut down Gitmo and withdraw from Iraq forthwith? Or is he, as the ACLU speculated for the New York Times, trying to draw attention to the asserted folly of abandoning the 1990’s model of civilian terrorist trials in favor of “a failed commission process”?
Yes, it’s the silly season.
What we don’t yet seem to grasp, even after all that’s gone on these last two decades, is that our politics and our law are of interest only to us. They matter nothing to jihadists. It’s a fatuous exercise in self-absorption to suppose otherwise — and a foolish one since it demonstrates for all to see that we still don’t get it. The delusion that we can change our enemies by changing ourselves is what makes the useful idiots useful.
KSM doesn’t see Bush or Obama. He sees an American president. He sees a symbol — the embodiment of a people and culture that are his mortal enemy. Back in 1994, when the Bojinka escapade was flushed out in the Philippines, investigators found that the jihadists were also planning an assassination of President Clinton. Thirteen years later, KSM explained to a military judge that he had mapped out “the assassination of several former American presidents, including President Carter.”
Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, cowboy or solon — these distinctions matter to us. KSM couldn’t care less.
In 1999, as was the fashion throughout the Nineties, we gave the embassy bombers due process’s version of The Full Monty: a civilian trial in the Big Apple, with multiple taxpayer-funded attorneys and investigators at their beck and call. We thought we were teaching the enemy and the world about America’s high regard for them and for the rule of law.
The Islamic world was unimpressed — much of it mocking the proceedings as a show trial. As for al-Qaeda, it did what al-Qaeda does: it studied our solicitous procedures with an eye toward the usual barbarity. Mamdouh Salim, a KSM confederate in al-Qaeda’s top echelon, determined that the constitutional rights to counsel and to prepare a defense provided a splendid opportunity to kidnap one’s American lawyers and use them as human shields in an attempted jail-break. Salim was stopped, but not before nearly killing the prison guard he stabbed in the eye while making his move.
For radical Islam, it’s not about us; it’s about them. KSM isn’t about us. He’s about KSM. There is no system we can devise, nothing we can do or not do, no one we can elect or anoint, that will alter how we are perceived by the millions who share the jihadist worldview, if not jihadist methods.
So why are KSM and his four fellow detainees trying to end-run their trial and rush to martyrdom? I daresay the answer should be, “Who cares?”
Live jihadists attain a lofty status in our custody, their notoriety enhancing their ability to inspire more terror. The Blind Sheikh issued the fatwa for 9/11 from his American jail cell; Sayyid Nosair, the murderer of JDL-founder Meir Kahane, exhorted the 1993 World Trade Center bombers from Attica prison; those bombers, in turn, egged on Spanish terrorists by sending messages through the penitentiary mail system. KSM and his associates will be no different. If they are ready to die, we ought to accommodate them — for once, our interests are in sync.
If I thought it was worth wasting much attention on his latest ploy, I’d point out that since being captured in 2003, KSM has been what he hates maybe even more than he hates Americans: irrelevant. Now that he finally has his soapbox, he also has his reputation to consider. Since 9/11, he’s best known for breaking under interrogation and thus helping the United States thwart more mayhem than he managed to pull off.
What he wants now is to go out in a blaze of bravado. A full-blown trial — whether military or civilian — might not be the best way to do that. It would broadcast his failures as much as his triumphs. As the outcome is not in doubt, he’d just as soon focus on a heroic, defiant, martyr’s death, with as much spotlight as possible.
We should take his guilty plea, then move swiftly to the capital phase and the inevitable death sentence. That is our law. But once that’s done, KSM ought to be consigned back to obscurity, at least for a while. He’s in a rush, but we don’t need to be. At a time of our choosing, when it will get minimum coverage, KSM and his confederates should be executed without fanfare. A curt announcement should be made, informing the public that the deed has been done.
Most of the world would yawn. That would be justice.
— National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs FDD’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008).
National Review Online -
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #315 on:
December 11, 2008, 04:03:00 PM »
DECEMBER 11, 2008
Officials Worry Attacks in Mumbai Could Spur Copycats in the West
By SIOBHAN GORMAN and SUSAN SCHMIDT
WASHINGTON -- The Mumbai attacks have prompted some Western officials to step up vigilance against the type of low-tech assault the 10 gunmen mounted last month.
Since the attacks in Mumbai, al Qaeda Web sites and chatrooms have lit up with aspiring militants urging more such attacks, according to the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group. One message cheered "the heroes" of the attack for making "the enemies suffer," including the U.S., the U.K. and Israel.
Historically, the group accused in the attack, Lashkar-e-Taiba, has focused on furthering Pakistan's claims to the Kashmir region, disputed with India. Although its messages have a strong anti-American component, U.S. officials have seen the group as a lesser counterterrorism priority.
But current and former intelligence officials say they are worried the Mumbai attacks may reflect a broadening of Lashkar's interests, and that would-be jihadis may copy the approach of the Mumbai attackers, who carried out their assault on foot using little more than machine guns, explosives and cellphones. Al Qaeda's resurgent base in Pakistan also provides opportunities for collaboration with groups such as Lashkar, officials said.
David Cohen, the head of intelligence for the New York Police Department and a former senior Central Intelligence Agency official, said what used to be merely propaganda against the U.S. and Israel has now been "operationalized" by the Mumbai attacks. "It puts us on notice in a much more clear and direct way," he added.
The NYPD has dispatched three officers to Mumbai to better understand the attacks because of concerns about copycats.
"It's a very clear indication that we have the potential to be victimized by a group motivated by religious ideology that doesn't use something sophisticated," said John Cohen, a senior official in the Bush administration's office for sharing information among intelligence agencies.
Pockets of Lashkar supporters sympathetic to the group's flavor of conservative Islam can be found around the U.S., current and former U.S. officials say.
Lashkar operates with an English-speaking public face, said Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism specialist. A camp-and-classroom structure brings people together from all over the world, and when graduates remain connected in a potent alumni network.
The most recent case alleging American involvement with Lashkar is that of two Americans in Atlanta. The men, who are awaiting trial, said in communications obtained by law enforcement that they sought to work under Lashkar because it was easier to "climb the ladder" to another terrorist group, said Mr. Kohlmann, who has reviewed the communications while assisting law enforcement on the case. Lawyers for the two men said they weren't involved with Lashkar.
Write to Siobhan Gorman at
and Susan Schmidt at
NYT: Safe at hom
Reply #316 on:
December 14, 2008, 10:37:06 AM »
By PETER BERGEN
Published: December 13, 2008
A FEW days before the presidential election, the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, told a group of intelligence officials that the new administration could well be tested by a terrorist attack on the homeland in its first year in office. “The World Trade Center was attacked in the first year of President Clinton, and the second attack was in the first year of President Bush,” he said.
President-elect Barack Obama made a similar observation when he told “60 Minutes” that it was important to get a national security team in place “because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack.” During the campaign, Joe Biden warned that “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.”
Should we be worried? In fact, the probability of a Qaeda attack on the United States is vanishingly small, for the same reasons that for the past seven years the terrorist group has not been able to carry out one.
President Bush and his supporters have often ascribed the absence of a Qaeda attack on the United States to the Iraq war, which supposedly acted as “flypaper” for jihadist terrorists, so instead of fighting them in Boston, America has fought them in Baghdad. Other commentators have said that Al Qaeda is simply biding its time to equal or top 9/11.
The real reasons are more prosaic. First, the American Muslim community has rejected the Qaeda ideological virus. American Muslims have instead overwhelmingly signed up for the American Dream, enjoying higher incomes and educational levels than the average.
Second, though it is hard to prove negatives, there appear to be no Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States. If they do exist, they are so asleep they are comatose. True, in 2003, the F.B.I. arrested Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker who met with Qaeda leaders in Pakistan after 9/11 and then had a plot to demolish the Brooklyn Bridge with a pair of blowtorches, a deed akin to trying to blow up the Statue of Liberty with a firecracker. But he is an exceptional case. Two years after his arrest, a leaked F.B.I. report concluded, “To date, we have not identified any true ‘sleeper’ agents in the U.S.”
Third, when jihadist terrorists have attacked the United States, they have arrived from outside the country, something that is much harder to do now. The 19 hijackers of 9/11 all came from elsewhere. Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 Trade Center bombing, flew to New York from Pakistan. Today’s no-fly list and other protective measures make entering the country much more difficult.
Fourth, the Bush administration has made Americans safer with measures like the establishment of the National Counterterrorism Center, where officials from different branches of government share information and act on terrorist threats. As a result of such measures, scores of terrorism cases have been aggressively investigated in the United States. But despite the billions of dollars invested in all these efforts and the thousands of men and women who get up every day to hunt for terrorists, the resulting cases have almost never involved concrete terrorist plots or acts.
Of the so-called terrorism cases since 9/11, many have revolved around charges of “material support” for a terrorist group, a vague concept that can encompass almost any dealings with organizations that have at one point engaged in terrorism. And in the cases where a terrorist plot has been alleged, the plans have been more aspirational than realistic.
If Al Qaeda can’t get people into the country, doesn’t have sleeper cells here and is unable to garner support from the American Muslim community, then how does it pull off an attack in the United States? While a small-bore attack may be organized by a Qaeda wannabe at some point, a catastrophic mass-casualty assault anything along the lines of 9/11 is no longer plausible.
This is not to say Al Qaeda is no longer a threat to our interests. It has of course regenerated itself on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan since 9/11, and as the 2005 attacks on the London subways and the foiled 2006 plot to bring down airliners leaving Heathrow Airport showed, it remains a grave danger to Britain.
In addition, Al Qaeda’s inability to attack the American homeland for the foreseeable future does not then mean that it can’t kill large numbers of American living overseas. If the 2006 “planes plot” had succeeded, British prosecutors say, as many as 1,500 passengers would have died, many of them Americans.
The incoming Obama administration has much to deal with, between managing two wars and the implosion of the financial system and car industry. But the likelihood of a terrorist attack on the United States in its early stages by Al Qaeda is close to zero.
Peter Bergen is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of “The Osama bin Laden I Know.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #317 on:
December 14, 2008, 12:23:51 PM »
Bergen is wrong. We have dodged a bullet multiple times since 9/11 and AQ really wants to make a hit early on in the empty suit's administration.
Fort Dix convictions
Reply #318 on:
December 23, 2008, 11:10:31 AM »
5 Men Found Guilty of Plotting to Kill Fort Dix Soldiers
Monday , December 22, 2008
CAMDEN, N.J. —
Five Muslim immigrants accused of scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were convicted of conspiracy Monday in a case that tested the FBI's post-Sept. 11 strategy of infiltrating and breaking up terrorist plots in their earliest stages.
The men could get life in prison when they are sentenced in April.
The five, who lived in and around Philadelphia for years, were found guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel. But they were acquitted of attempted murder after prosecutors acknowledged the men were probably months away from an attack and did not necessarily have a specific plan. Four defendants were also convicted of weapons charges.
The federal jury deliberated for 38 hours over six days.
The government said after the arrests in 2007 that case underscored the dangers of terrorist plots hatched on U.S. soil. Although investigators said the conspirators were inspired by Osama bin Laden, they were not accused of any ties to foreign terror groups.
Defense lawyers argued that the alleged plot was all talk — that the men weren't seriously planning anything and that they were manipulated and goaded by two paid FBI informants.
Faten Shnewer, the mother of defendant Mohamad Shnewer, said the informants should be the ones in jail. "Not my son and his friends. It's not right, it's not justice," she said after the verdict. The government "sent somebody to push him to say something; that's it."
Convicted were: Shnewer, a Jordanian-born cab driver; Turkish-born convenience store clerk Serdar Tatar; and brothers Dritan, Eljvir and Shain Duka, ethnic Albanians from the former Yugoslavia, who had a roofing business. A sixth man arrested and charged only with gun offenses pleaded guilty earlier.
The government said the men were targeting New Jersey's Fort Dix for an attack but had also conducted surveillance at Fort Monmouth, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military installations, and had talked about assaulting some of those spots. The jury did not have to find that the men had any specific target in mind to convict them.
"These criminals had the capacity and had done preparations to do serious and grievous harm to members of our military," Ralph Marra, the acting U.S. attorney for New Jersey, said after the verdict.
But some Muslim leaders in New Jersey disputed that.
"I don't think they actually mean to do anything," said Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union. "I think they were acting stupid, like they thought the whole thing was a joke."
Jim Sues, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: "Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant."
The yearlong investigation began after a clerk at a Circuit City store told police that some customers had asked him to transfer onto DVD some video footage of them firing assault weapons and screaming about jihad.
The FBI asked two informants — both foreign-born men who entered the U.S. illegally and had criminal records — to befriend the suspects. Both informants were paid and were offered help obtaining legal resident status.
During the eight-week trial, the government relied heavily on information gathered by the informants, who secretly recorded hundreds of conversations.
Prosecutors said the men bought several assault rifles supplied by the FBI and that they trekked to Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains to practice their shooting. The government also presented dozens of jihadist speeches and videos that the men supposedly used as inspiration.
According to prosecutors, the group chose Fort Dix because one of the defendants was familiar with it. His father's pizza shop delivered to the New Jersey base, which is 25 miles from Philadelphia and used primarily to train reservists for duty in Iraq.
The group's objective was to kill "as many American soldiers as possible," prosecutors said.
But the men's lawyers attacked the credibility of the informants and accused them of instigating the plot.
After the verdict, Schnewer's attorney, Rocco Cipparone, said there would not have been a conspiracy without the involvement of the informants. "I believe they shaped the evidence," he said.
Prosecutor William Fitzpatrick defended the government's handling of the case, telling the jury: "The FBI investigates crime on the front end. They don't want to have to do it on the back end."
Members of the jury would not speak to reporters after the verdict.
The government said after the men's arrest that an attack was imminent, though prosecutors backed off that assertion at the trial.
The government has had a mixed record on terrorism prosecutions since Sept. 11. It won guilty pleas from Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui; Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with a shoe bomb; and the Lackawanna Six, a terrorist cell outside Buffalo, N.Y. And it convicted Jose Padilla of plotting terrorist attacks.
But a case against four men in Michigan fell apart after a federal prosecutor was accused of withholding evidence. And a case in Miami against seven men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower has produced one acquittal and two mistrials.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #319 on:
December 28, 2008, 10:16:10 PM »
New threats to online security
By Richard Waters in San Francisco
Published: December 26 2008 17:20 | Last updated: December 26 2008 17:20
Internet security has deteriorated markedly this year as a new generation of invasive computer attacks, often masterminded by criminal gangs, has reached a heightened level of sophistication, according to the latest studies of online threats.
“It’s getting worse year after year,” warned Pat Peterson, chief security researcher at Cisco Systems, who blamed the deterioration on the fact that computer “hacking” is quickly turning into big business. “Capitalism is working against us,” he said.
Tech blog - Dec-26
Lex: Spam, spam, spam - Dec-26
Personal view online: the security debate - Oct-07
“It’s a step back after things had gotten better,” added John Pescatore, a security analyst at Gartner.
In particular, computer security experts warn that so-called botnets, or networks of “slave” PCs whose owners do not know their machines have been infected, have become both more prevalent and sophisticated.
By planting a piece of software on an unguarded PC, criminals are able to assemble large networks of machines to carry out tasks for them, such as launching attacks on other internet users.
PCs that are part of botnets, some of which span 1m or more machines, have become harder to identify and root out in recent months as the rogue software has burrowed deeper into the machines, said Paul Wood, a senior analyst at MessageLabs.
Botnets have also become more dangerous as their controllers have learnt how to repurpose the slave networks to carry out different tasks, Mr Peterson said. One network that was originally used to steal users’ passwords and send out spam was given an overhaul this year so that it could attack legitimate websites, according to Cisco.
A second big new threat that has become notable this year has been the commandeering of legitimate websites and e-mail accounts to spread malicious software. Rogue software is used to scrutinise public websites and “inject” code into those that are found vulnerable, so that later visitors to the sites can be infected.
The setback for internet security follows several years in which the biggest online threats were successfully held at bay or, in some cases, pushed back. The use of the internet to exploit vulnerabilities in millions of PCs first emerged as a significant threat in 2001, after an outbreak of fast-spreading computer viruses and worms.
Those threats were largely thwarted after a concerted effort by Microsoft and other software makers to plug flaws in their code, and after anti-virus software became more widely used. A subsequent wave of spyware that emerged in the middle of this decade was also pushed back.
However, the prospect of making large amounts of money by stealing sensitive information from millions of users, such as their passwords or financial data, has led to a new and more insidious outbreak of mass internet attacks.
Michael Yon is PO'd at DHS
Reply #320 on:
January 05, 2009, 01:13:16 PM »
The Department of Homeland Security in Action
04 January 2009
A Thai friend with whom I have traveled in Europe and Asia took time off from her job to meet me in Florida over the holidays. This was a good time for me, as it was between reporting stints in the war. My friend, Aew, had volunteered to work with me in Afghanistan or Iraq, but I declined because many people around me get shot or blown up. So we were looking forward to spending some vacation time together. She comes from a good family; and one that is wealthier than most American families. She didn’t come here for a job. Well-educated, she has a master's degree and works as a bank officer in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Aew was excited about the prospect of visiting America for the first time, though she had traveled to many other countries and had the passport stamps to prove it. She had no problem getting a U.S. visa, and she was paying her own way to fly.
Problems began when she entered the airport in Bangkok. Aew had a one-way ticket to America, because we would travel back in the direction of the war before she would go home, but we did not know our exact itinerary, so she hadn't bought a round-trip ticket back to Thailand. Before boarding the flight from Thailand to America, Northwest Airlines required Aew to buy a return ticket for 53,905 Thai bhat, or about $1,200 for a return ticket, else they would not let her board the flight. Aew paid by her credit card and pushed on. Understandably, it raises suspicions when a foreign national doesn't have a round-trip ticket in an age of massive illegal immigration -- even if that person is an educated professional with a home and career, and even though Aew has a ten-year visa to the United States. Nevertheless, Aew paid approximately $1,200 for the return ticket, and so now had a return ticket.
That is how it began. She boarded the jet, eventually landed in Japan and then Minneapolis, before the final leg to Orlando. While thousands of people have canceled trips to Orlando due to the failing economy, Aew was coming with cash to spend in Florida. We would go to Disney, Kennedy Space Center and many other places; she'd be seeing the sights while I was meeting with military and other people in preparation for my upcoming return to Afghanistan for the long year ahead.
I first met Aew in Indonesia during a break from the Iraq war. I had gone to visit the site of the murder of my friend Beata Pawlak, who, along with about two hundred other people, was killed in a terrorist attack on the island of Bali.
After meeting in Indonesia, Aew and I stayed in touch. We traveled at different times to Singapore, Great Britain, Thailand and Nepal. Yet when Aew landed in Minneapolis, she was hustled away by an immigration officer. After approximately 24 hours of exhausting travel, Aew was detained for about 90 minutes without cause, and as a result, she missed her connecting flight to Orlando. She was brought into a small room where she saw a camera peering down. The officer conducting the shakedown wore a name tag: "Knapp." Five times she had traveled to China with zero problems, but Knapp grilled Aew with a long series of questions, rifling through her wallet, handling her credit cards and reading them carefully, questioning her piece by piece. Her passport, thick with extra pages, showed stamps from countries around the world. It contained the valid U.S. visa, and stamps and visas from countries she had traveled to, such as Great Britain, Japan, China, Nepal, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brunei, New Zealand and Cambodia. She had traveled to some of these countries on multiple occasions, always paying her own way. She never had problems. Not even in China. We had toured Parliament together in London, on a private expedition led by Member of Parliament Adam Holloway. Aew was very interested to see the Royal Family, and was beside herself when I met Lady Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who at that time read this website. The British, including military officers, had treated her very well and she left with positive memories of Great Britian.
But that was Great Britain. The American shakedown was just starting. Her sister, Puk, was sending me SMS messages from Thailand, worried that Aew seemed to have disappeared. I had bought Puk's daughters, North and Nurse, who are 8 and 9, a "talking globe" so they could track the travels of their Aunt Aew. The last time I saw North and Nurse, we had taken them to the Chiang Mai zoo, and also to an elephant camp where the elephants paint. Puk's husband, Bey, is a high-ranking Thai police officer who, as part of his duties, helps organize security for the Thai Royal Family.
While the U.S. Immigration officer named Knapp rifled through all her belongings, Aew sat quietly. She was afraid of this man, who eventually pushed a keyboard to Aew and coerced her into giving up the password to her e-mail address. Officer Knapp read through Aew's e-mails that were addressed to me, and mine to her. Aew would tell me later that she sat quietly, but “Inside I was crying.” She had been so excited to finally visit America. America, the only country ever to coerce her at the border. This is against everything I know about winning and losing the subtle wars. This is against everything I love about the United States. We are not supposed to behave like this. Aew would tell me later that she thought she would be arrested if she did not give the password.
The Government of the United States was reading the private e-mails of a U.S. citizen (me). The Department of “Homeland Security” was at work, intimidating visitors with legitimate visas. They had at least 24 hours to check her out before she landed in the United States. What kind of security is this? The Department of Homeland Security was at this moment more like the Department of Intimidation.
Officer Knapp called my phone as I was driving to the Orlando airport. I was going to be there two hours early to make sure I would be on time, so that she had a warm welcome to my country. But instead, Knapp was busy detaining Aew in Minneapolis and was on my cell phone asking all types of personal questions that he had no business asking. Sensing that Aew was in trouble, I answered his questions. Mr. Knapp was a rude smart aleck. The call is likely recorded and that recording would bear out my claims. This officer of the United States government, a grown man, had coerced personal information from a Thai woman who weighs 90 pounds. I asked Aew later why she gave him the e-mail password, and she answered simply, "I was afraid," and “I thought I would be arrested.”
What could I say to alleviate any of this? Could I say, "This is the U.S., nothing to be afraid of."? The world already sees us as senseless bullies. Aew might have been detained indefinitely; even I was concerned that the Department of Homeland Security might detain Aew for no reason. Essentially, she had no rights. They had already coerced her e-mail password out of her head through intimidation.
This does not make me feel safe: Our Homeland Security was focusing on a 40-year-old Thai bank officer while there are real bad guys out there. Thailand and the United States have had good relations for 175 years, and Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that is proud to say they are friends of the United States. There are no threats to Americans from Thai people -- who, among other relevant things, are mostly not Muslims. The King of Thailand was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard. I have never seen the King with a gun; only a camera. His 2009 New Year’s speech was also a call for peace. The King and his family helped bring widespread education to Thailand, which created a special problem. Today there are large numbers of highly educated, successful women looking for highly educated men. I remember General (ret.) McCaffrey, our former drug Czar, telling me a couple of years ago that the King of Thailand was incredibly important in wiping out opium poppies in Thailand. The King of Thailand is highly respected by the government of the United States. He is a very good man.
During World War II, when the Japanese encouraged the Thai people to fight us, the Thai government actually declared war on the United States and Great Britain. But the Thai Ambassador in Washington refused to deliver the declaration of war. The upshot was that the United States refused to declare war on Thailand, and the Thai people formed a resistance against the Japanese.
Thai people refused to fight Americans. Instead, they attacked the Japanese. Has our government had problems recently with 90-pound, 40-year-old Thai women? Do they blow things up? Aew doesn’t even know how to light a match. She doesn’t smoke or drink, and is more upright than your average southern Baptist. She can’t even curse and gets upset if she hears me say a bad word about someone. “Michael!” she says, “Don’t say that!”
When I discovered that she had missed her flight, after about 24 hours of travel thus far, I called immigration at Minneapolis and asked to speak with Officer Knapp. Knapp got on the phone, but this time it was me questioning him. Knapp told me it was legal to read e-mails. I asked for his first name, but he was afraid to give his first name, which was rather strange for someone working within the confines of an airport where everyone has been searched for weapons. Where I work, in a war zone, soldiers give their first and last names and face Taliban and al Qaeda heads up, man to man. I write about al Qaeda, Taliban and other terrorist groups who kill thousands of people. My name is Michael Yon. My first name is Michael. Mr. Knapp hides behind a badge bullying a woman whose only activities are Yoga, reading, travel, and telling me what is healthy and unhealthy to eat. Knapp is a face of Homeland Security. How many other officers at Homeland Security bully 90-pound women, but are afraid to give their own names?
Knowing that Homeland Security officers are creating animosity and anxiety at our borders does not make me feel safer. How many truly bad guys slip by while U.S. officers stand in small rooms and pick on little women?
I have just returned from Afghanistan and Iraq on a trip with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and I can assure you that we can do better. We do not have to violate human rights and insult our closest allies to maintain our security.
Meanwhile, Aew had missed two flights; standby seats were full on the second flight, and I was considering flying from Florida to Minneapolis to get her myself. I did not want Aew to have to sleep in the airport overnight.
I had intended to show Aew a bit of my country. But it's taking a little while for her to get over her discomfort at being in America. She was treated better in China. So was I.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #321 on:
January 05, 2009, 04:37:49 PM »
Great article. Unfortunately, the treatment that Ms. Aew received is far from rare. Even more unfortunate that the behavior is condoned by many under the guise of protecting our populace. And let's not fool ourselves and say that this is an isolated case. Had this woman not known a respected journalist the story would never have come to light.
We've backed ourselves into a nice little Catch-22 haven't we? You can't catch the bad guys by treating everyone equally, but you can't treat everyone equally and expect to catch bad guys.
Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 04:44:11 PM by SB_Mig
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #322 on:
January 05, 2009, 10:04:09 PM »
**Anyone here able to tell a Thai that's Buddhist from a Thai that's Muslim?**
November 2, 2008
Thailand: jihadists eliminate last Buddhist family from village
A 72 year old mother and her 39 year old daughter. The mother was shot in the head and killed. The father was slain a year ago. Now no more Buddhists (i.e., "pagans," "mushrikin") in Narathiwat.
"Last Buddhist family in Narathiwat village attacked," from the Nation, November 2:
Narathiwat - The last Buddhist family in a village of this southern border province was attacked by Muslim insurgents Sunday, killing the mother and severely injuring the daughter.
The attack against the family in Moo 7 village of Tambon Laloh of Ruesoh district happened at 1:20 pm.
Police said the mother Ladda Sutthani, 72, owner of a clothes shop, was fatally shot and her daughter, Darunee Duangkaew, 39, was severely injured and sent to the provincial hospital.
Ladda, who was shot at her head and neck, died before she was sent to the hospital.
Police said the two were sitting inside the shop with two other relatives and the insurgents arrived on two motorcycles. They initially pretended to buy clothes but opened fire at the mother and daughter while the two relatives managed to flee.
The shop was attacked with a bomb two years ago, injuring Ladda. Darunee's husband was killed about a year ago.
Ladda and Darunee's family is the last Buddhist family in the village.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #323 on:
January 05, 2009, 10:29:42 PM »
Well worth reading, if you want to get an idea of the challenges we face.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #324 on:
January 05, 2009, 10:50:18 PM »
WRITTEN BY PAULA BOCK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER
In quiet Port Angeles, local folks tackle a terrorist - and nothing has been quite the same since
EVER SINCE terrorist Ahmed Ressam drove off the ferry from Victoria, B.C., with 135 pounds of bomb ingredients hidden in his trunk, the folks at U.S. Customs — who caught and chased him on foot through the streets of Port Angeles — have wondered many things.
Was the Los Angeles airport really his only target?
What would've happened if they hadn't caught him?
Most of all, why did he pick Port Angeles? Does that mean (and this gives them the creeps) that he scoped them out before that drizzly night?
Let's say he did. Ressam would have spied an international border crossing that looks, frankly, homemade. Most of the operation takes place outdoors under an awning balanced on creosote pilings, a structure more casually built than your average picnic shelter.
Instead of sitting in booths, the inspectors stand in the salty air next to tables slapped together from scrap lumber, painted gray. To make a phone call or check the computer, they head for a trailer furnished with 1940s office chairs, masonite clipboards, a combo-dial safe and a brass-handled filing cabinet left over from the "Casablanca" era. There are no surveillance cameras. Sparrows and seagulls flit in the rafters. One of the inspectors, since retired, fed the birds on the sly even though they tended to spatter her spit-and-polish colleagues. Despite this ever-present danger, most of the customs officials smile a lot.
Inspector Diana Dean appears to be smiling even when she isn't because her warm brown eyes turn up at the corners, like a Kewpie doll's, and she often winks at the ferry passengers when they show their Murchie's Tea and ask for directions to Highway 101.
Inspectors wonder whether terrorist Ahmed Ressam scoped out Port Angeles before he boarded the Coho ferry in Victoria, B.C., and attempted to bring nearly 135 pounds of bomb ingredients into America through their tiny port. When they discovered the load, he fled on foot and they chased him up the street at left, tackling him a few blocks later.
Headed to Crescent Lake? She directs them west, past an abandoned shack improbably labeled, CURRENCY EXCHANGE. Seattle? Dean points east in the direction of Omelet King and Dairy Queen.
She waves. "You're good to go!"
Friendly border, no barbed wire. It'd be understandable if an international terrorist mistook this port for easy entry.
ALONG WITH her disarming smile, Diana Dean carries a Glock.
All that day — the day before Ressam, before everything — she'd been out on the firing range with her colleagues, practicing in the rain. Target shooting. Take downs. Handcuffings. Fun when you're in your 20s or 30s, Dean says, but she's well beyond that, and by late afternoon, she was eager to finish, tend to the evening ferry and go home to a hot shower.
What to make for dinner? That was the only thing on her mind. Something quick. Baked potatoes. Hamburger. One of Dean's three grown daughters is vegetarian. Whether to accommodate her that night. Typical Tuesday. December 14th, 1999.
At first, customs inspectors thought the load was dope, but field tests were negative. Then they remembered the black boxes, unscrewed the lids and found these timers rigged from Casio watches.
The Millennium was just around the corner, hardly a blip on Dean's radar screen, security or otherwise. Christmas came first. At home, the tree was already up. Downtown, shopkeepers had decorated the streets with little white lights. It wasn't cold enough to frost the breath, but damp.
At 5:30, the ferry from Victoria docked with only 20 vehicles aboard. Dean checked cars in Lane 2, the center lane, while Inspectors Mark Johnson, Mike Chapman, Steve Campbell and Dan Clem worked the other lanes and foot passengers.
"When I'm working a car, I'm always glancing at the next one behind," Dean says. "If it looks like grandma and grandpa from Sequim, it probably is. You're going to ask different questions depending on whether they have U.S. or Canadian plates. You eyeball that person and see if what they look like matches with who they say they are."
Instead of a spare tire, the wheel well of Ressam's rental car held 10 bags of urea fertilizer, two olive jars with an amber liquid similar to nitroglycerin, pill bottles filled with highly volatile military-grade explosives and four timers. Ressam brought some of the chemicals from a jihad training camp in Afghanistan, assembled the bomb in a Vancouver motel and said he planned to detonate it at the Los Angeles International Airport.
All the other passengers were "regular, normal people," Dean recalls. Ressam's rental car is the only one she remembers. Did he pick her line, she wonders now, "maybe, because I'm a woman?"
It was the last vehicle off the boat, a dark green Chrysler 300M with B.C. plates, a luxury sedan usually favored by the older set. The driver was small and wore long sideburns and a too-big camelhair coat. He looked to be in his early 30s. He rolled down the window.
"Where are you going?" Dean asked him.
"Sattal," he said. Nervous, she thought. Out-of-the-ordinary nervous.
"Why are you going to Seattle?"
"Bisit," he said. Fidgeting.
"Where do you live?"
"Montreal." Oh. French-Canadian. That explains the accent. But not his jumpiness.
"Who are you going to see in Seattle?"
"No, hotel." Why such a roundabout route from Montreal, on two ferries, to visit a hotel in Seattle? Doesn't make sense, Dean thought. The man became more agitated, began rummaging in the console.
"The minute the hands disappear," Dean says, "you get nervous."
Secondary inspection. She gave him a customs declaration to get his hands busy and asked for his driver's license. It identified him as Benni Noris of Montreal.
Not quite. Though he later claimed "I am a not a citizen of anywhere," Ahmed Ressam is Algerian, born there in 1967. He worked a while in his father's coffee shop before moving to France under a false name, then to Montreal, where he lived on welfare and petty thievery and joined a terrorist cell. In 1998, he learned to rig bombs, conduct urban warfare and do surveillance at a jihad training camp in Afghanistan. In 1999, he returned to Vancouver, B.C., with the key chemicals for making the bomb for Los Angeles and spent several days putting it together with accomplice Abdelmajid Dahoumane in Room 118 of the 2400 Inn. The men kept the window open despite the wet, rainy weather, housekeeping staff testified, and left an acid burn on a table and corroded plumbing.
Ressam then drove to Victoria, where he called ahead to reserve a room at the Best Western hotel near Seattle Center, jotting the number on a notepad from the Empress Hotel. The slip of paper was found in his car along with a Los Angeles map — airports circled — but it would take months for the rest to unfold.
Dean watched the jittery man. Turn off the car, pop open the trunk and step out, she ordered. He didn't comply. By that time, the other inspectors had processed their passengers and were waiting for her to finish. Johnson had served a brief stint in Montreal, so Dean asked him to talk to the French Canadian.
Johnson didn't speak French, but knew Spanish from years working the southern border. "Habla Español?"
"Parlez-vous Français?" the man replied. He handed over his Costco card as identification.
"So you like to shop in bulk?" Johnson joked. "Y'know the 120-roll pack of toilet paper?" He was trying to crack the mask, test whether the guy was feigning no-speak-English. The guy gave him a withering look but wouldn't respond. He was acting "hinky," Johnson says, suspicious.
Johnson escorted him, by the arm, to a gray table to search the pockets of his trench coat. A few steps away, inspectors Clem and Chapman removed a suitcase from the trunk and unscrewed the covering over the spare tire. Clem called out. They'd found something.
Johnson gripped Ressam by both shoulders and walked him to the trunk. They peered inside.
In Johnson's hands, Ressam shuddered.
To check the computer, make phone calls or process papers for truckers, Dean and other inspectors head for this vintage trailer at the Black Ball ferry terminal. The hand-hewn tables and lack of surveillance cameras lend the international border station a homey feel, which perhaps lulled Ressam into thinking it'd be an easy crossing.
"I CAN'T TELL YOU I've led a very exciting life," Diana Dean says. "Absolutely not one thing extraordinary. Nothing. Totally boring."
When pressed, Dean talks about her animals. She has two llamas, a Dalmatian, another dog, a tiny freshwater puffer fish, two cats, five unnamed chickens, a yellow-naped chartreuse Amazon parrot and two African leopard tortoises, Lily and Luke, whose parents were recently featured in Reptile Magazine. That's the closest Dean admits to fame.
Dean has loved animals since she was a girl growing up in Seattle. Her mom, a Seattle schoolteacher, let her keep baby raccoons, rabbits, cats, dogs, hamsters, even a snake or two. Her father was killed in the Battle of the Bulge shortly before she was born, so she spent a lot of time with her grandparents on their North Dakota farm.
She dreamed of being a veterinarian or marrying a farmer. Instead, she wed a city boy, Tony, whom she'd met at Roosevelt High. He became a sky marshal and then worked in customs. She took courses at Everett and Spokane community colleges, worked as a payroll manager in Seattle, moved to Hawaii when Tony was transferred, then applied to be an inspector herself.
Dean loved the job, especially the airport buzzing with people. She glommed onto inspectors she admired to learn what they looked for and how they asked questions. Over the years, she made several big busts along with run-of-the-mill seizures, even after transferring to Port Angeles, a much quieter port. Dean's boss says she has a "sixth sense," but Dean attributes it to experience and training.
"Being an inspector," she says, "you see the same types day in and day out. I can almost tell who they are, where they're going, and practically what they do for a living. And if they seem a little off, I pull them over for a second look-see."
The day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Port Director Jerry Slaminski framed this newspaper photo of Osama bin Laden and placed it across from his desk to remind himself that "the Bible says you should pray for your enemies." So far, that's been too hard. Instead, the port director prays bin Laden will be captured, tried and brought to justice. He hopes to someday scrawl DECEASED or CAPTURED or DEATH ROW across bin Laden's photo.
That's all she was doing the night of Dec. 14, 1999, when Ressam came through. "Who would have dreamed it? Never in a trillion years," she says. "You have your life pretty much planned out, and something will happen to change it. You go with what life hands you, I guess I don't know."
Since snagging Ressam, Dean and her colleagues have been honored by the director of U.S. Customs and awarded medals by the U.S. Treasury secretary. They've testified at trials in Los Angeles and New York and in front of Congress in Washington, D.C. A self-described "homebody," Dean had never visited any of these places before. "I'd never heard of Algeria or Afghanistan," she says. "That's not true, but it is. Before, you didn't think of things that go on in other parts of the world."
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #325 on:
January 05, 2009, 10:59:10 PM »
Now she does. She's watched documentaries about Ressam's homeland. She's gone on the Internet with her daughter to read about women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. What if a woman's husband is killed, she wonders. How would she make a living, take care of her children?
"Unimaginable," Dean says. "Chaotic. That's the only word. Certainly not like it is here. It's not even like New York, for crying out loud!"
In Port Angeles, daily life goes on. "I get up every morning, get my kids to school, come home, make dinner, shop at Safeway. This being Port Angeles, that's one of the highlights." But somehow, especially since Sept. 11, it's not the same.
"You think about these things in the weirdest places," she says. The other night in the Safeway, by the meat counter, something washed over Dean. "You look around and people are shopping in their own little world," she says. "I can't believe everyone isn't down on their knees because we have so much, and so many people don't. We complain about the stupidest thing in this country. Go figure."
The meat counter in the Port Angeles Safeway is 52 steps long. It ends where a Hostess Twinkie display intersects with the pet-food aisle. Pet Food stretches the entire length of the store and includes treats such as Purina Bacon Beggin' Strips, $3.49 for six ounces.
To Diana Dean, this used to be normal.
Now it's not.
Slaminski oversees four full-time and eight part-time customs inspectors at a border crossing so quiet they usually seize only one or two marijuana joints every other month. The poster of the inspectors who caught Ressam is autographed, with thanks, from Ray Kelly, then head of U.S. Customs, who credits them with saving countless lives.
DEEP INSIDE Ressam's trunk, the wheel well was loaded. Ten green plastic garbage bags filled with white crystals, two olive jars of amber liquid, black boxes, two pill bottles.
Drugs, Johnson thought, flashing back to the southern border. Maybe meth. Not powdery like cocaine, coarser, somewhere between sugar and rock salt.
Johnson patted Ressam down for weapons, felt a hard bulge in his right pocket. Suddenly, Ressam slipped out of his trench coat and ran. "Instead of running after him," Johnson recalls, "I'm like: Hey! Hey! You can't do that!
"If anything be known, I'm the guy who let Ressam go."
Not for long. He and Chapman took off on foot. Dean and Inspector Steve Campbell jumped in their family vans. "Watch the trunk!" Dean called to her husband, who was waiting for a ride home because his car had broken down.
It was dark. Ressam led by half a block. Which way? Campbell yelled to an old man on the corner. The guy pointed with his cane: That-a-way!
At the trial, the prosecution used an aerial map of downtown Port Angeles to trace the four-block chase. Ressam ran up Laurel, past the banks and flower planters toward First Street's twinkling holiday lights. Chapman followed. Johnson cut through a parking lot by a mural of the ferry Kalakala. At the corner of First Street, Ressam bumped into a guy, kept running and dove under a pickup truck parked in front of the shoe store.
Chapman finally caught up and squatted on the curb, gun drawn: Stop! Police! Customs!
Ressam crawled out, glanced at Chapman, turned his back and ran into the traffic. He rebounded off a moving car and tried to duck into the Kalakala parking lot, but found himself facing Johnson. It'd been all uphill. Everyone was panting, but the race plodded on, past the movie theater and the furniture store and Dynasty Chinese restaurant.
"It was kinda weird because it was like a slow-motion chase," recalls a local shopowner, who watched it. "They were going around in circles. He (Ressam) kept looking back. He looked bored, really, so we just thought he's just some shoplifter. The last thing in the world you'd think was it was a terrorist."
Traffic was confused. At the intersection of First and Lincoln, Ressam grabbed the door handle of a blue Olds stopped at the light. The manager of Safeway video rentals was at the wheel. She hadn't locked her car door, of course, this being Port Angeles. She wondered whether to run the red light. Go! her husband said. She floored it.
Ressam spun, off balance. Chapman tackled him. Johnson pounced, 240 pounds kneeling on Ressam's shoulders, and slapped on Smith & Wesson cuffs.
For more than a year, Inspector Mark Johnson hid his medal in his locker because he felt ashamed of his snappish behavior in the days following Ressam's arrest. But on Sept. 11, after a hard workout to vent anger, Johnson went to change his clothes, saw the medal and felt proud.
AFTER THE awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Johnson hung his medal in the back of his locker and never wanted to look at it again. He was ashamed how he'd snapped at people in the days following Ressam's capture. He'd stayed awake nearly 72 hours babysitting the explosive cache, and when he finally went home, he thought he saw a man dressed in black crawling toward the house. "I recognized I was going nuts," the inspector said. He took time off to sleep and work out.
Also, like the other inspectors, Johnson didn't feel deserving of special merit. It had taken several years to find his calling as a customs inspector after graduating from Fife High School and Western Washington University and working various construction and warehouse jobs.
His first year as a customs inspector along the southern border near Tijuana, other inspectors zeroed in on dope all the time, but he couldn't find a thing. "The southern border was like getting slapped with a wet towel," he says, until "I learned to read the thing and hone it down to an edge." In 1996, Johnson was awarded a belt buckle for making the most seizures in San Ysidro and Tecate ports. He'd push the traffic, moving a line quickly to weed out civilian chaff and suck in smugglers. Long hours, tough conditions, hard work. The other inspectors on the southern border, he says, deserve medals, too.
USA v. Ressam (CR99-666c) was held in Los Angeles in a stylish new courthouse, part Perry Mason, part Restoration Hardware. Johnson was nervous while testifying, but that didn't keep him from trying to connect with the slight man in the brown sweater.
The prosecution: "Now during this field-testing process, did you test the contents of the pill bottles?"
Johnson: "I did not."
Q: "What, if anything, did you do with the pill bottles?"
A: "I just looked at them and shook them around."
Q: "Did you know the pill bottles contained a high explosive?"
A: "I know that now."
A Tylenol bottle contained a powerful military-grade explosive, cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine, or RDX. Another small bottle held hexamethylentriperoxodiamin, or HMTD, an unstable explosive so dangerous it's not manufactured commercially. Two tall olive jars were filled with 50 ounces of ethylene glycol dinitrate, or EGDN, a chemical cousin to nitroglycerin. Used in dynamite, EGDN is sensitive to shock, heat and friction. Screwing the jar lids could have been enough to set it off. The garbage bags contained 118 pounds of urea fertilizer and 14 pounds of sulfate powder. Mixed with other chemicals, it's a bomb. When the FBI detonated five pounds of the mixture under a big old sedan, the explosion left only shards of car carcass and drifting ash.
Q: "What, if anything, did you do with the Safeway olive-jar containers that had the brown liquid?"
A: "I tipped them upside-down for the viscosity of it."
Q: "Did you know at the time it contained the equivalent of nitroglycerin? Do you know if you dropped the bottle what would have happened?"
A: "I know."
At that, Johnson made eye contact with Ressam, who returned his gaze and then looked down. Did he feel remorse? Johnson couldn't tell. "My Christian belief says everyone can be redeemed."
Every night before bed, Johnson and his three boys pray for Mommy and baby sister; for Manolin and Yurebe, boys they sponsor in the Dominican Republic; for neighbors; for help in saying no to sin and yes to God. They also pray Ressam will repent and become a Christian, "not in the sappy sense," Johnson says, "but in recognition of 'Hey, I'm a sinner.' " He adds, "Even though I'm praying for the guy, I want to get in that cell and throttle him."
On Sept. 11, Johnson worked out his sadness and anger by running the ramps behind the Federal Building. Changing clothes at his locker, Johnson spied his medal, still dangling from its blue ribbon. He thought about what could have been, and for the first time, he felt proud.
"Yeah," he said. "That's OK."
HANDCUFFED, RESSAM lay on cold pavement while traffic detoured around him. His left cheekbone was scraped; he curled his legs like a dead spider, not resisting, but not cooperating. "So I applied pain compliance to his wrist," Johnson said, "and that's when he decided he was going to walk back." A patrol car arrived to drive them the last few blocks.
In the trailer, the inspectors pulled out field kits to test the white granules in the garbage bags. They still thought it was dope, but all the drug tests were negative. Then, they remembered the four black boxes in the trunk and unscrewed one of the lids. A Casio watch face stared back, laced to a circuit board with red wires.
Calls had gone out. Layers of law enforcement arrived and swarmed around the little ferry terminal. In the backseat of the patrol car, still handcuffed, Ressam kept peeking over the edge of the window, then ducking down as officials poked at the bomb materials in his trunk. Dean wondered if he'd been badly hurt in the scuffle. Should they call medics? They loosened his handcuffs.
At the trial, Ressam's defense attorney cross-examined Inspector Chapman: "You didn't run up to the people at the trunk of the car and say, 'Get away from the trunk of the car. There is something wrong here because this guy is diving down on the seat?' "
A: "No. I'm not trained in testing for either narcotics or any other material. We had individuals that are trained, and I was relying upon their field of expertise."
Johnson cut through this parking lot, in front of the Kalakala ferry mural, when running after Ressam, in the dark, through downtown Port Angeles. Every night, Johnson prays with his sons that Ressam will feel remorse. Ressam is in a federal detention center in SeaTac awaiting final sentencing.
Everyone cringes when they look back. That night, they'd stored the heat- and shock-sensitive EGDN in the warm basement of the Federal Building, a classic brick and stone edifice heated by steam radiators. Johnson recalls the olive jars knocking against each other as he walked them downstairs. Three days later, an ATF agent drove 900 miles on I-5 with the chemicals before learning how volatile they were. This summer, when testifying against co-conspirator Mokhtar Haouari, Ressam said he was too scared to drive with the chemicals in his car; he'd planned to take Amtrak to Los Angeles instead.
"We didn't realize the magnitude of it that night," Dean says. What started as an ordinary drizzly day had turned into a nervous ferry passenger, then a suspicious car, then a bomb plot, then a Montreal terrorist cell, then a jihad training camp in Afghanistan linked to Osama bin Laden.
Customs inspectors are not experts in such matters. They are good at reading eyes.
"You know how you look in somebody's eyes and there's light? He looked at me and his eyes were dead," Dean says of Ressam. "It was just a chilling chilling chilling feeling. It was like looking at a person who was not there. There was no spark, no life, no soul. His eyes were just flat."
PORT ANGELES Port Director Jerry Slaminski is a beefy man with a moustache who resembles Captain Kangaroo's bigger, less jolly, younger brother.
One wall of his office serves as a glory board. In framed montages, beaming inspectors show off sacks of confiscated marijuana and bricks of cocaine.
The Ressam capture is in the center and features snapshots of the terrorist taken that night in the trailer. He stands next to a fire extinguisher and K9 recruiting poster, pockets turned inside out, undershirt peeking from his gray sweater. There's slight stubble on his hollow cheeks and he's set his face in an expressionless mask. Maybe if he were smiling you could imagine the guy, in an alternate universe, laughing with friends at a soccer match or café. Maybe not.
Next to the glory board, there's a framed photo of President George W. Bush. It's on top of a VCR on which Slaminski shows documentaries to teach his staff about other cultures. Slaminski, who's traveled extensively around the world and was a sky marshal in the Middle East, has a daughter who married a Muslim and moved there. When he imagines Ressam's roots in Algeria, he says:
"What would your identity be, as a man, if you had no job, people are getting killed and you're not sure who's right, the government is corrupt, the rich are getting richer and the poor people are taken advantage of and you'll never amount to anything, anyway, you're never going to get out of the hole, or have a family, or job. They're probably looking for a cause. Trying to find some purpose in life."
Across the room, under a navigational chart of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is another framed photo: Osama bin Laden. He sits cross-legged in a flowing white garment and camouflage jacket. Slaminski sinks into his chair, dark uniform belted and decorated with badges. The leader of the Armed Islamic Group and the head of Port Angeles Customs stare at each other.
Slaminski put bin Laden's picture up on Sept. 12, "thinking I was going to pray for him, but I haven't," he says, tapping a pen on his desk. "I pray that he's going to get caught. I think that would be even better than seeing him killed. Yeah, brought back here in handcuffs and put in a courtroom. It reminds me to pray that justice is done. Also to pray for the people in New York.
"It's intense. Every time I look at it, you feel like you're at war and this is my Public Enemy No. 1, and you don't want to grow lethargic until we control this situation. Maybe someday I can write DECEASED or CAPTURED or DEATH ROW on that picture with this black pen.
"The Bible says pray for your enemies. I find it hard. I want to pray that his soul will be saved, but I can't." The port director pauses, swallows. "Excuse me," he says. His ample jaw trembles. He takes a deep breath. "God's grace is bigger than my grace. To be honest, I believe God allowed that man to be caught as a warning to the U.S. that we were a target and they were trying to penetrate our borders and do damage. Whether it was taken seriously or not, you be the judge."
It is an odd feeling to be on a misty peninsula, in a government office, listening to the director of a tiny port talk about God, jihad and Algerian grandmothers wailing in olive groves. But these are strange times.
"You think of a small town like this as a quiet haven of peace where you can escape this kind of thing," Slaminski says. "There's no place in the world to run from this anymore. No country's too small, no city's too small."
Every month in Port Angeles, customs inspectors seize Cuban cigars and a few bottles of Tylenol with codeine. Every other month, they confiscate a joint or two. Once a year, they'll uncover a notable load, like last year's 120 pounds of marijuana in a motorhome. Mostly, the port deals with the surplus of bountiful nations: tourists and commercial truckers.
The tidy office is stocked with rubber stamps, staplers, a fax machine, Scotch tape, manila folders, pencil jars, paperclips, envelopes. The implements of civil society. Office supplies never looked so vulnerable.
In three weeks, it will be two years since Ressam took the ferry to Port Angeles.
Every day, 249,000 people cross the northern border between Canada and the United States. In December, more than 5 million passengers typically travel through the Los Angeles International Airport. In the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Ahmed Ressam is cooperating with the FBI in hopes of getting less than 130 years at his Feb. 14 sentencing. In Afghanistan, the United States is dropping 7½-ton bombs as big as Volkswagen Beetles. Osama bin Laden remains at large.
On the Port Angeles waterfront, wind whips the flags. Every evening, when the ferry docks, Diana Dean smooths on an extra layer of Chapstick and goes out to meet the boat. She winks and waves at everyone, almost.
Paula Bock is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #326 on:
January 05, 2009, 11:29:28 PM »
Possible Hijacker Stopped At OIA
An alleged "20th hijacker" was turned away a month before the Sept. 11 attacks.
By Tamara Lytle | Washington Bureau Chief
January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON -- Just one month before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a potential "20th hijacker" may have been prevented from entering the country by an alert border agent at Orlando International Airport, federal investigators said Monday.
Sometime in August 2001, a man known only by his last name -- al-Qahtani -- arrived at the airport on the same day that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta was known to have been there and to have used a payphone.
But al-Qahtani was turned away after questioning by border agent Jose Melendez-Perez, who is currently an inspector with the Customs and Border Protection arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Melendez-Perez is scheduled to testify about the "incident in Florida" at a Monday hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9-11 Commission, according to a witness list.
Al Felzenberg, the commission's spokesman, would not confirm details of the incident but said Melendez-Perez's quick thinking may have helped prevent the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from being even more devastating. It's long been suspected that a so-called "20th hijacker" was supposed to have been part of the terrorist team that was overwhelmed by passengers aboard United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
It has been speculated that that flight may have been aimed at the U.S. Capitol or the White House, and the fact that the terrorist team was one man short may have given passengers an edge.
"He helped make it a lot less of a tragedy than it might have been," said Felzenberg. "There were many people who worked for the government who helped enhance security, and he's one of them."
Authorities had earlier speculated that Zacarias Moussaoui was meant to be the 20th hijacker but have since backed off. The Morocco-born al-Qaeda operative is awaiting trial in Virginia on terrorism and conspiracy charges.
At least one other of the Flight 93 hijackers -- Saeed Alghamdi -- is known to have entered the country through Orlando on June 27, 2001, according to previous FBI testimony. A total of four hijackers entered through Orlando en route to joining terrorist cells in South Florida, the FBI has said.
A congressional source said the would-be hijacker al-Qahtani was later picked up in Afghanistan as a combatant and is now being questioned at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay.
The Orlando incident was first reported in the edition of Newsweek that went on sale Monday. That story reported that Melendez-Perez, a 58-year-old Vietnam veteran, turned al-Qahtani away and put him on a flight out of the country after "his story fell apart" about being in Orlando to meet a friend.
The 9-11 panel has also discovered that Atta made a call on a payphone from the airport to a country in the Middle East the same day. Newsweek reported that a surveillance camera captured Atta placing the call.
But commission officials would neither confirm nor deny those details Monday night.
"We're aware of the story, and we're not in a position to comment on it," said Philip D. Zelikow, executive director of the panel. "The commission will be preparing a detailed statement on this topic and much broader issues."
Melendez-Perez already has spoken with the staff at the commission, which is run by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. Monday he will testify as part of a hearing on border and aviation security. "We think what he has to say will be extremely important to our investigation," Felzenberg said.
The commission has done 800 interviews and held six public hearings so far. It is scheduled to report to Congress and the president May 27. Recently, some commissioners had said they needed more time. But congressional leaders responded vociferously that they want the report finished on time.
A congressional joint inquiry, led by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Rep. Porter Goss, R-Sanibel, finished its work last year investigating the intelligence failures that led up to the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people when terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Kean commission has a much broader mandate than the congressional inquiry. It will look at aviation security, Congress' role, border security, terrorist financing, the intelligence community and other factors. The commission will begin hearing from Cabinet members from both the Clinton and Bush administrations this spring.
Unlike the congressional inquiry, the 9-11 panel will have access to classified White House documents
Just Doing My Job, OIA Inspector Says
Jose Melendez-Perez said he can't say more yet on a man stopped in 2001 who was a possible hijacker.
By Pamela J. Johnson and Tim Barker | Sentinel Staff Writers
Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel
January 21, 2004
It is a decision Jose Melendez-Perez had made countless times before. Only this time, it may have prevented United Airlines Flight 93 from striking the U.S. Capitol or the White House.
About a month before Sept. 11, 2001, the federal border-patrol inspector at Orlando International Airport denied a man entry. However, this man -- identified only as al-Qahtani -- may have been the "20th hijacker," some officials said.
"I've been doing this every day for years, and only God knows how many people I've turned away," Melendez-Perez said Tuesday night while waxing his black Nissan Maxima at his home in an east Orange County gated community. "I usually never hear anything about it."
Just how important this catch was is debated among security experts, especially because 19 other hijackers made it into the country. It is suspected that the man whom Melendez-Perez blocked was supposed to be part of the terrorist team that was overwhelmed by passengers aboard the United flight, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
"It's like saying we did a great job at Pearl Harbor by shooting down 29 Japanese airplanes," said Michael Boyd, an aviation consultant with the Colorado-based Boyd Group.
Still, experts say it demonstrates the importance of the customs operations in protecting the nation.
The most obvious role of customs is found at U.S. airports, where inspectors quiz international travelers.
"You're looking at their reactions," said Douglas Laird of Laird & Associates, a Nevada-based aviation-security consulting company. "Are they sweating? Are they averting their gaze?"
But the agency's role has morphed considerably since the 2001 attacks.
In early 2003, customs was moved under the umbrella of the new Department of Homeland Security. The agency was split, with its criminal investigators moved into a new federal agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The remainder of the old customs agency became U.S. Customs & Border Protection, which got a boost to its anti-terrorist toolbox earlier this month with the debut of the U.S. Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology program. The system uses photos and fingerprints to track the comings and goings of visitors from countries where visas are required.
These changes illustrate a shift in the agency's responsibilities, with more emphasis placed on searching for potential terrorists, rather than just keeping out illegal immigrants, said Charles Slepian, aviation-security expert with the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center.
Melendez-Perez, a native of Puerto Rico, said he could not provide details about the Orlando airport incident until he testifies Monday during a hearing of the National Commission of Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.
"My wife doesn't even know anything about it," he said.
Earlier, authorities had suspected that Zacarias Moussaoui was meant to be the 20th hijacker but now say it might have been this new suspect.
To Melendez-Perez, his own story is mundane.
"It's my job," he said. "It's what I get paid to do."
9-11 Panel Lauds OIA Agent
Hijackers' leader should not have slipped by, inspector says
By Tamara Lytle | Washington Bureau Chief
January 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Orlando Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.
In Washington. (PHOTO: DENNIS COOK/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
FROM THE TESTIMONY
"The bottom line is, he gave me the chills," Jose Melendez-Perez said.
"It is entirely plausible to suggest your actions in doing your job efficiently and competently may well have contributed to saving the Capitol or the White House and all the people who were in those buildings, those monuments to democracy," Sept. 11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste said.
WASHINGTON -- An Orlando border agent hailed for blocking a suspected terrorist from entering the country told a federal commission Monday that the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks never should have slipped past border agents.
Jose Melendez-Perez said there were enough red flags about Mohamed Atta -- including the wrong visa, his age and his impeccable clothing -- that an alert border agent should have refused Atta's entry.
"I would have recommended refusal," Melendez-Perez told the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States in the first of two days of hearings on security breakdowns that may have contributed to the attacks.
Three of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers told obvious lies on their visa applications, the commission's staff said Monday, and as many as eight may have entered the United States with doctored passports.
While Monday's hearing focused largely on forged documents, lapses in security and other problems, Melendez-Perez was hailed for the gut instinct that led him to deny entry to a Saudi national who arrived at Orlando International Airport a little more than a month before the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.
"When the subject looked at me, I felt a bone-chilling cold effect," Melendez-Perez testified Monday. "The bottom line is, he gave me the chills."
Federal authorities now think the man Melendez-Perez turned away -- Mohamed al-Qahtani -- may have been the missing 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The border agent's decision may have left the terrorists shorthanded on one of the four airliners hijacked that day, allowing passengers to fight back and crash the jet thought to have been targeted at Washington into a rural Pennsylvania field.
"It is entirely plausible to suggest your actions in doing your job efficiently and competently may well have contributed to saving the Capitol or the White House and all the people who were in those buildings, those monuments to democracy," commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste told Melendez-Perez during Monday's hearing. "For that, we all owe you a debt of gratitude."
With that, the Hart Senate hearing room broke into uncharacteristic applause as Melendez-Perez, a 58-year-old native of Puerto Rico, sat alone in a crisp gray suit at a long table, facing the cameras and the commission and the sudden attention for his part in fighting terrorism before it was a national commitment.
The commission also heard about a series of government failures in issuing visas, not sharing intelligence and allowing hijackers into the country with doctored passports and other improper documentation. The commission staff pointedly disputed CIA and FBI claims that most of the hijackers couldn't have been stopped because they entered the country legally.
As a counterpoint to all those failures, Melendez-Perez was invited to tell his story -- one of an inspector who risked wrath in a system that was deferential to Saudi visitors.
"I was just doing my job," Melendez-Perez repeated like a mantra Monday.
Instinct -- honed by military training and 11 years of border work -- is what led Melendez-Perez to deny entry to al-Qahtani on Aug. 4, 2001, the agent told the bipartisan federal panel, better known as the Sept. 11 Commission.
Al-Qahtani was sent to Melendez-Perez's secondary inspection station at OIA because he claimed not to speak English and hadn't properly filled out his paperwork.
Melendez-Perez sat with him in a back room, an Arabic translator on the speaker phone between them.
Al-Qahtani, who had arrived from Dubai, had no return ticket or credit cards and just $2,800 in cash for a six-day "vacation." That's not enough money to buy a ticket back to Dubai after six days of hotel expenses, Melendez-Perez figured.
The Saudi man said a friend was waiting for him in the airport, then changed his story to say no one was there after the border agent pressed him for a name. Investigators now know that Atta, who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, was in the Orlando airport calling another plotter when al-Qahtani didn't appear.
As Melendez-Perez found more holes in al-Qahtani's story, he drew on experience from 26 years in the Army, including a stint training recruiters in interview techniques. Al-Qahtani was aggressively arrogant -- even pointing a finger in the border agent's face -- but that didn't intimidate him.
Melendez-Perez, who had been an Army first sergeant, looked at al-Qahtani's neatly trimmed mustache, perfect grooming and confident bearing, surmising the man had military training. When al-Qahtani claimed he didn't know where he was going after the U.S. trip, the thought "hit man" flashed through the inspector's mind.
The evasiveness and shaky story weren't firm grounds for barring the Saudi from the country. But when al-Qahtani refused to answer questions under oath, that was a different story.
Melendez-Perez got permission from his supervisor's boss, and soon he was marching al-Qahtani over to the next flight to Dubai via London. As the Saudi who claimed not to speak English got on the plane, he looked back at Melendez-Perez and said something in English to the effect of "I'll be back."
Instead of coming back, al-Qahtani was later captured in Afghanistan and now is being held as an enemy combatant at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to congressional sources.
Members of the Sept. 11 Commission did not ask Melendez-Perez about the four hijackers who are known to have entered the country through OIA before joining terror cells in Florida.
Melendez-Perez, meanwhile, keeps checking visitors and immigrants in Orlando, although his border agency is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. The father of four and grandfather of six has not received any special award for his prescient judgment.
And no one from the FBI ever asked him for information, although he called his office Sept. 11 as soon as he heard of the attacks, reminding them of his run-in with the Saudi. Melendez-Perez also turned away another Saudi national that August, according to Ben-Veniste, although that person has no proven terrorist ties.
Kristin Breitweiser, whose husband died at the World Trade Center, said Monday that she wished the commission put front-line people who hadn't done their jobs on the spot instead of just featuring Melendez-Perez. "I applaud the man, but really I'd like to have the other however-many thousand people who dropped the ball," she said.
But commissioners and their staff were at times pointed in their criticism of the State Department officials who processed visas, the Immigration and Naturalization Service that watched the borders and the intelligence agencies that didn't share information with one another.
Commissioner John Lehman, a former Navy secretary, told Mary Ryan, the former assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, that her staff should have given closer scrutiny to people applying for visas in Saudi Arabia because of the well-known presence of Islamic fundamentalists there.
"Everybody we talked to said 'Saudi Arabia is our friend. We don't look for terrorists there,' " Lehman said. "Hello, did anyone read the newspapers?"
Ryan said Saudi Arabia was considered an ally and that the State Department did not have intelligence information to help it know who to keep out of the country by denying visas.
Jim Leusner of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #327 on:
January 06, 2009, 12:10:08 AM »
Mr. Yon mentioned how China was "nicer". China doesn't need to worry so much at it's border crossings, as it has a massive internal surveillance infrastructure. We, on the other hand have very little. Once someone makes it into the US, it's quite easy to disappear and live "off the grid".
Reply #328 on:
January 14, 2009, 02:57:56 PM »
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart
Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences
On Jan. 8, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard testimony from a number of experts about the lessons learned from the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack. According to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Mumbai attack deserves attention because it raises important questions about the plans of U.S. authorities to prevent, prepare for and respond to similar attacks directed against targets in the United States.
As we’ve previously pointed out, the tactics employed in the Mumbai attack were not new or remarkable, although the attackers did incorporate some tactical innovations due to their use of modern technology. As shown by a long string of historic terror attacks, armed assaults can be quite effective. There are a number of factors, however, that would reduce the effectiveness of a similar attack inside the United States or many Western European countries.
Armed assaults employing small arms and grenades have long been a staple of modern terrorism. Such assaults have been employed in many famous terrorist attacks conducted by a wide array of actors, such as the Black September operation against the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics; the December 1975 seizure of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries headquarters in Vienna, Austria, led by Carlos the Jackal; the December 1985 simultaneous attacks against the airports in Rome and Vienna by the Abu Nidal Organization; and even the December 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi led by Kashmiri militants.
In a particularly brutal armed assault, a large group of Chechen militants stormed a school in Beslan, North Ossetia in September 2004, taking more than 1,000 hostages and booby-trapping the school with scores of anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices. The attack, standoff and eventual storming of the school by Russian authorities after a three-day siege resulted in the deaths of more than 320 people, half of them children.
In some instances — such as the December 1996 seizure of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement — the objective of the armed assault was to take and intentionally hold hostages for a long period of time. In other instances, such as the May 1972 assault on Lod Airport by members of the Japanese Red Army, the armed assault was a suicide attack designed simply to kill as many victims as possible before the assailants themselves were killed or incapacitated. Even though Mumbai became a protracted operation, its planning and execution indicate it was intended as the second sort of attack — the attackers were ordered to inflict maximum damage and to not be taken alive.
When viewed as a part of this historic trend, perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of the Mumbai attacks was the assailants’ use of modern technology to assist them with planning the attack and with their command, control and communications during the execution of their operation. Technology not only assisted the Mumbai attackers in conducting their preoperational surveillance, it also enabled them to use satellite imagery of Mumbai and GPS receivers to reach their assigned landing spots by water and move to their assigned attack sites. (Mumbai was not the first instance of militants using boats to reach their targets; several Palestinian groups have used boats in attacks against Israeli coastal towns, while other groups — such as the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka — have long used watercraft to transport teams for armed assault missions.)
Modern technology also allowed the tactical commanders and even individual team members to use satellite and cell phones to place calls to their strategic commanders in Pakistan, as demonstrated by some of the chilling audio captured by the Indian government. In transcripts of some of the conversations released by the Indian government, an unidentified commander reportedly exhorted the exhausted militants at the Nariman House to continue fighting. In another conversation, an off-site commander allegedly ordered the militants holed up in the Oberoi Hotel to kill their non-Muslim captives. From the transcripts, it is also apparent that the commanders were watching news coverage of the siege and then passing information to the attackers on the ground.
In the past, when a facility was seized, police tactics often called for the power and phone lines to be cut off to limit attackers’ ability to communicate with the outside world. Such measures have proven ineffective in the era of cell phones and portable satellite communications.
Mitigating Armed Assaults
Stratfor has long held that the United States and Europe are vulnerable to armed attacks against soft targets. In an open society, it is impossible to protect everything. Moreover, conducting attacks against soft targets such as hotels or malls can be done with ease, and can prove quite effective at creating carnage.
In fact, as we’ve previously pointed out, Cho Seung Hui killed more people with handguns in his attack at Virginia Tech than Jemaah Islamiyah was able to kill in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the August 2003 bombing of the Marriott Hotel and the September 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy combined. Clearly, armed assaults pose a threat.
That said, while militants can use this same modus operandi and technology to attack targets in the United States or Europe, several factors would help mitigate the impact of such armed assaults.
First, reviewing the long history of armed assaults in modern terrorism shows that the tactic has forced many countries to develop specialized and highly trained forces to combat it. For example, it was the failed rescue attempt of the Israeli athletes in Munich that motivated the German government to create the elite Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG 9), which would become one of the best counterterrorism forces in the world. The activities of the Provisional Irish Republican Army likewise helped shape the British Special Air Service into its role as an elite counterterrorism force.
While some developing countries, such as Singapore, have managed to develop highly trained and extremely competent counterterrorism units and effectively use such units, India is not one of them. In spite of the long history of terrorist activity directed against India, Indian security and counterterrorism assets are simply too poorly funded and organized to comprehensively address the militant threats the country faces. Even the elite National Security Guards (NSG), also known as the Black Cats, provided a sluggish response to the Mumbai attack.
When we view the entire spectrum of counterterrorism capabilities, however, the greatest gap in capability between Indian and European or Indian and American forces is not the gap between elite counterterrorism forces, but the gap at the individual street cop level. This is significant because street cops are a critical line of defense against terrorists. The importance of street cops pertains not only to preventing attacks by collecting critical intelligence, noticing surveillance or other preoperational planning activity and questioning or arresting suspects, it also applies to the tactical response to armed attackers.
Among the most troubling aspects of the Mumbai attack were accounts by journalists of Indian police shooting at the attackers and missing them. Some journalists have said this failure can be explained by the fact that many Indian police officers are armed with antiquated revolvers and Lee-Enfield rifles. But the Lee-Enfield is an accurate and reliable battle rifle that shoots a powerful cartridge, the .303 British. Like the .30-06 Springfield and the .308 Winchester, the .303 British is a man stopper and is deadly out to long ranges. The kinetic energy produced by such cartridges will penetrate body armor up to the heavy Type III level, and the amount of kinetic energy they impart will often even cause considerable shock trauma damage to people wearing heavy body armor.
The .303 British is a formidable round that has killed a lot of people and big game over the past century. Afghan sharpshooters used the Lee-Enfield with great success against the Soviets, and Taliban are still using it against coalition forces in Afghanistan. There is also nothing wrong with a .38 revolver in capable hands. The problem, then, lies in the hands — more specifically, in the training — of the officers so armed. If a police officer does not have the marksmanship to kill (or even hit) a suspect at 20 or 30 meters with aimed fire from a battle rifle, there is little chance he can control the automatic fire from an assault rifle or submachine gun effectively. In the end, the attackers outclassed the Indian police with their marksmanship far more than they outclassed them with their armaments.
By and large, U.S. and European police officers are better-trained marksmen than their Indian counterparts. U.S. and European officers also must regularly go to the shooting range for marksmanship requalification to maintain those skills. This means that in a Mumbai-type scenario in the United States or Europe, the gunmen would not have been allowed the freedom of movement they were in Mumbai, where they were able to walk past police officers firing at them without being hit.
The overall tactical ability of the average street cop is important. While most large police departments in the United States have very skilled tactical units, such as the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit, these units may take time to respond to an incident in progress. In the case of a Mumbai-style attack, where there are multiple teams with multiple attackers operating in different areas of the city, such units might not be able to tackle multiple sites simultaneously. This means that like in Mumbai, street cops probably not only will have the first contact with the attackers, but also might be called on to be the primary force to stop them.
In the United States, local police would be aided during such a confrontation by the widespread adoption of “active shooter” training programs. Following a series of attacks including the highly publicized 1999 Columbine school shooting, it became apparent that the standard police tactic of surrounding an attacker and waiting for the SWAT team to go in and engage the shooter was not effective when the attacker was actively shooting people. As police officers waited outside for backup, additional victims were being killed. To remedy this, many police departments have instituted active shooter programs.
While the details of active shooter tactical programs may vary somewhat from department to department, the main idea behind them is that the active shooter must be engaged and neutralized as quickly as possible, not allowed to continue on a killing spree unopposed. Depending on the location and situation, this engagement sometimes is accomplished by a single officer or pair of officers with shoulder weapons. Other times, it is accomplished by a group of four or more officers trained to quickly organize and rapidly react as a team to locations where the assailant is firing.
Active shooter programs have proven effective in limiting the damage done by shooters in several cases, including the March 2005 shooting at a high school in Red Lake, Minn. Today, many police departments not only have a policy of confronting active shooters, they also have provided their officers with training courses teaching them how to do so effectively. Such training could make a world of difference in a Mumbai-type attack, where there may not be sufficient time or resources for a specialized tactical team to respond.
In the United States, armed off-duty cops and civilians also can make a difference in armed attacks. In February 2007, for example, a heavily armed gunman who had killed five victims in the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City was confronted by an off-duty police officer, who cornered the shooter and kept him pinned down until other officers could arrive and kill the shooter. This off-duty officer’s actions plainly saved many lives that evening.
One other factor where European and American law enforcement officers have an edge over their Indian counterparts is in command, control and communications. Certainly, an armed assault is very chaotic no matter where it happens, but law enforcement agencies in the United States have a lot of experience in dealing with communications during complex situations. One such example is the February 1997 shootout in North Hollywood, where two heavily armed suspects wearing body armor engaged officers from the Los Angeles Police Department in a lengthy shootout. Following that incident, in which the responding officers’ handguns and shotguns proved incapable of penetrating the suspects’ heavy body armor, many police departments began to arm at least some of their units with AR-15s and other high-powered rifles. Ironically, the LAPD officers almost certainly would have welcomed a couple of old battle rifles like the Lee-Enfield in the gunfight that day.
Hindsight is another huge advantage European and American law enforcement officers now enjoy. Police and security agencies commonly examine serious terrorist attacks for tactical details that can then be used to plan and conduct training exercises designed to counteract the tactics employed. As evidenced by the Jan. 8 testimony of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Mumbai has gotten the attention of police agencies around the world. The NYPD and others already are studying ways to rapidly deny attackers the communications ability they enjoyed in Mumbai during future attacks. The preoperational surveillance conducted by the Mumbai attackers is also being closely scrutinized to assist in countersurveillance operations elsewhere.
A seen by the Fort Dix plot and actual armed attacks against targets, such as the July 2002 assault on the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and the July 2006 attack against the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the threat of armed terrorist assaults against soft targets in the United States is quite real. However, the U.S. law enforcement environment is quite different from that in India — and that difference will help mitigate the effects of a Mumbai-like attack.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #329 on:
January 19, 2009, 11:44:38 PM »
Monday, January 19, 2009
Al Qaeda bungles arms experiment
An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday.
The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.
He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.
"We don't know if this is biological or chemical," the official said.
The story was first reported by the British tabloid the Sun, which said the al Qaeda operatives died after being infected with a strain of bubonic plague, the disease that killed a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. But the intelligence official dismissed that claim.
AQIM, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, maintains about a dozen bases in Algeria, where the group has waged a terrorist campaign against government forces and civilians. In 2006, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on foreign contractors. In 2007, the group said it bombed U.N. headquarters in Algiers, an attack that killed 41 people.
Al Qaeda is believed by U.S. and Western experts to have been pursuing biological weapons since at least the late 1990s. A 2005 report on unconventional weapons drafted by a commission led by former Sen. Charles Robb, Virginia Democrat, and federal appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman concluded that al Qaeda's biological weapons program "was extensive, well organized and operated two years before the Sept. 11" terror attacks in the U.S.
Another report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, released in December, warned that "terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon."
British authorities in January 2003 arrested seven men they accused of producing a poison from castor beans known as ricin. British officials said one of the suspects had visited an al Qaeda training camp. In the investigation into the case, British authorities found an undated al Qaeda manual on assassinations with a recipe for making the poison.
The late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was suspected of developing ricin in northern Iraq. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell referred to the poison in his presentation to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 that sought to lay the groundwork for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Roger Cressey, a former senior counterterrorism official at the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told The Washington Times that al Qaeda has had an interest in acquiring a poisons capability since the late 1990s.
"This is something that al Qaeda still aspires to do, and the infrastructure to develop it does not have to be that sophisticated," he said.
Mr. Cressey added that he also is concerned about al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb, which refers to the North African countries of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
"Al Qaeda in the Maghreb is probably the most operationally capable affiliate in the organization right now," he said.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #330 on:
January 22, 2009, 03:13:21 PM »
Al-Qaeda cell killed by Black Death 'was developing biological weapons'
An al-Qaeda cell killed by the Black Death may have been developing biological weapons when it was infected, it has been reported.
Last Updated: 6:10PM GMT 20 Jan 2009
The group of 40 terrorists were reported to have been killed by the plague at a training camp in Algeria earlier this month.
It was initially believed that they could have caught the disease through fleas on rats attracted by poor living conditions in their forest hideout.
But there are now claims the cell was developing the disease as a weapon to use against western cities.
Experts said that the group was developing chemical and biological weapons.
Dr Igor Khrupinov, a biological weapons expert at Georgia University, told The Sun: "Al-Qaeda is known to experiment with biological weapons. And this group has direct communication with other cells around the world.
"Contagious diseases, like ebola and anthrax, occur in northern Africa. It makes sense that people are trying to use them against Western governments."
Dr Khrupinov, who was once a weapons adviser to the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, added: "Instead of using bombs, people with infectious diseases could be walking through cities."
It was reported last year that up to 100 potential terrorists had attempted to become postgraduate students in Britain in an attempt to use laboratories.
Ian Kearns, from the Institute for Public Policy Research, told the newspaper: "The biological weapons threat is not going away. We're not ready for it."
Oh great , , ,
Reply #331 on:
January 23, 2009, 05:10:36 PM »
U.N. exec picked for No. 2 at Homeland Security
Posted 2h 41m ago | Comments 9 | Recommend E-mail | Save | Print |
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top United Nations official who once served on the White House National Security Council has been picked for deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, a move that would place two women at the top of the department for the first time.
President Barack Obama's nomination of Jane Holl Lute, a retired Army major who worked on the NSC under President Bill Clinton, was announced Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Three secretaries and five deputy secretaries — all men — have served at the agency since it launched in 2003.
At the U.N., Lute coordinates peace efforts among countries in conflict.
"Jane's experience leading large operations with broad and challenging missions lends itself to the undertaking we have before us at Homeland Security," Napolitano said in a statement.
In addition to her NSC work, Lute has served as vice president and chief operating officer of the United Nations Foundation. She served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. Lute is married to Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Obama's deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan.
At Homeland Security, the deputy secretary's role has traditionally been that of a chief operating officer who oversees the day-to-day management of the 200,000-person department.
Homeland Security expert James Carafano thinks Lute is an odd pick. "She doesn't have the right skill set," said Carafano, a fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "And she knows nothing about the issues."
Carafano said the Homeland Security deputy secretary needs to be someone who knows how to manage massive bureaucracies like the department. "She's going to have a really incredibly steep learning curve," he said.
The department includes divisions that protect the country's borders, develop new radiation detection equipment, study and test infectious diseases, enforce immigration and maritime laws. Homeland Security also is responsible for protecting the president and other dignitaries, coordinating disaster response, keeping terrorists off airplanes and other transportation, and monitoring and preventing cyber-intrusions.
Napolitano also announced her chiefs of staff Friday — both of whom worked for her when she was governor of Arizona: Noah Kroloff, chief of staff for policy, and Jan Lesher, chief of staff for operations.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #332 on:
January 23, 2009, 07:57:09 PM »
The empty suit is busy surrendering to al qaeda, so why not put political hacks in place in the CIA and DHS? What could possibly go wrong?
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #333 on:
January 25, 2009, 01:00:51 PM »
AP IMPACT: Freedom looms for terrorist
By ADAM GOLDMAN and RANDY HERSCHAFT, Associated Press Writers Sat Jan 24, 11:48 pm ET
NEW YORK – In 1973, a young terrorist named Khalid Duhham Al-Jawary entered the United States and quickly began plotting an audacious attack in New York City.
He built three powerful bombs — bombs powerful enough to kill, maim and destroy — and put them in rental cars scattered around town, near Israeli targets.
The plot failed. The explosive devices did not detonate, and Al-Jawary fled the country, escaping prosecution for nearly two decades — until he was convicted of terrorism charges in Brooklyn and sentenced to 30 years in federal penitentiary.
But his time is up.
In less than a month, the 63-year-old Al-Jawary is expected to be released. He will likely be deported; where to is anybody's guess. The shadowy figure had so many aliases it's almost impossible to know which country is his true homeland.
Al-Jawary has never admitted his dark past or offered up tidbits in exchange for his release. Much of Al-Jawary's life remains a mystery — even to the dogged FBI case agent who tracked him down.
But an Associated Press investigation — based on recently declassified documents, extensive court records, CIA investigative notes and interviews with former intelligence officials — reveals publicly for the first time Al-Jawary's deep involvement in terrorism beyond the plot that led to his conviction.
Government documents link Al-Jawary to Black September's murderous letter-bombing campaign targeting world leaders in the 1970s and a botched terrorist attack in 1979. Former intelligence officials suspect he had a role in the bombing of a TWA flight in 1974 that killed 88 people.
"He's a very dangerous man," said Mike Finnegan, the former FBI counterterrorism agent who captured Al-Jawary. "A very bad guy."
The events linked to Al-Jawary happened long ago, when the conflagration in the Middle East spread around the world; he is being released into another century, one in which the scale of terrorism has grown exponentially, even bringing down two of New York's skyscrapers.
Al-Jawary has long insisted that he was framed and that the government has the wrong guy. Al-Jawary declined an interview through prison officials and has since failed to answer letters mailed to him in the last year and a half, but his former lawyer, Ron Kuby, insists he "wasn't a threat in 1991 and he's not a threat now."
Federal prosecutors didn't see it that way. They point to his trip to the United States in the 1970s as proof.
A slender, nattily dressed man with a thin mustache, Al-Jawary walked into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in November 1972 and applied for a visa using a phony Iraqi passport. He answered some routine questions, had his picture taken and was granted a visa.
On Jan. 12, 1973, Al-Jawary flew to Boston via Montreal and then to New York City.
Five days later, after the bureau's office in Tel Aviv received a tip in connection to another investigation, agents tried to locate a man who later turned out to be Al-Jawary.
They found him in New York City and conducted a perfunctory interview. Where do you live? Baghdad. Why did you come here? Flight training at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
The agent asked if Al-Jawary was affiliated with any political groups. He said he was "nonpolitical."
The agent asked how long he was staying. Al-Jawary said he planned to return to the Middle East after his training ended in about a month and get a job as a commercial pilot, according to FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Al-Jawary befriended a woman named Carol and her young son Todd. Carol and Al-Jawary grew close, with Al-Jawary taking her son on trips to Manhattan. Unbeknownst to the woman, the boy was a decoy. Al-Jawary had no interest in a relationship with her or Todd. He was scouting targets for a terrorist attack, and the presence of the boy would help him avoid suspicion.
He picked two Israeli banks on Fifth Avenue and the El-Al cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport.
Possibly working with two or more people, Al-Jawary rented three cars and assembled three bombs comprised of large containers filled with gasoline, propane tanks, plastic explosives, blasting caps and batteries, according to FBI and federal court records. The propane tanks were particularly diabolical, adding shrapnel to the blast.
Two of the bombs used alarm clocks, but a third employed a sophisticated electronic-timing device commonly referred to as an "e-cell," said Terence G. McTigue, who worked on the New York Police Department's bomb squad. It was twice as powerful as the other two bombs.
On March 4, Al-Jawary — and possibly others — readied the cars in anticipation of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's visit to the city.
Each car contained a Hebrew language newspaper with propaganda from Black September — the terrorist organization that carried out the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics just months earlier — tucked inside.
But the bombs failed to explode. It is not clear why. They were discovered after the two cars on Fifth Avenue were towed, and the FBI learned about the third car at JFK and notified police.
McTigue disarmed the e-cell bomb at JFK and found the components for the fourth one in the car. It was cutting edge, the work of a professional.
"It was a sea change because it was the first time we encountered an electronic timer rather than a simple alarm clock or mechanical timer," recalled McTigue, who would be badly injured in 1976 when he tried to dismantle a bomb left by a Croatian terrorist.
McTigue also recognized something else as he examined the car bomb: a plastic explosive called Semtex from Czechoslovakia. It had been used in scores of letter bombs sent around the world the previous year, targeting Jews and Israelis and even U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers. One had killed an agricultural counselor at the Israeli embassy in London and another mangled the hands of a 26-year-old postal worker in the Bronx.
McTigue knew those letter bombs. He had handled them. The letters had pressure-release firing devices and were the work of Black September, Palestinian guerrillas believed by intelligence officials to be controlled by Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
Rogers called the attempted New York City attack a "disturbing development" in a confidential memo to President Richard Nixon — it was, he said, the first time Black September had "mounted an operation on American soil."
As it turns out, Al-Jawary's car bombs and the letter explosives contained similarities that made authorities suspect they were linked.
"The explosive material found in the rental cars was imported and found to be identical to that used in the recent worldwide letter bomb campaign," according to declassified State Department documents obtained from the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Md.
The FBI began a large investigation, "one of the most intensive in the history of the FBI," called "Tribomb," deploying 300 agents and interviewing hundreds of people.
The FBI lifted 60 fingerprints; they all matched Al-Jawary's. They uncovered a fake Jordanian passport behind an air conditioning duct and bomb materials from a room Al-Jawary had rented at a hotel near JFK. Agents recovered a copy of a Jordanian driver's license he had used to rent the cars.
Agents quickly realized that Al-Jawary was involved in the attempted attack and issued an arrest warrant. But he had already slipped out of the country.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #334 on:
January 25, 2009, 01:02:03 PM »
The FBI focused on Lebanon because Al-Jawary had gotten his visa there. But Lebanon was the Wild West of the Middle East at that time, a safe haven where Arab and PLO terrorists circulated without fear of arrest. If he was there, Al-Jawary was out of reach.
Al-Jawary brazenly sent postcards to Carol from Paris, Rome, Beirut.
Years passed. The FBI gave up the hunt.
But their elusive quarry resurfaced in 1979, not long after Israel assassinated a top Black September terrorist. Border police stopped Al-Jawary's car as he and another man tried to cross into Germany from Austria, according to federal court documents.
In the trunk of the car, police found 88 pounds of high explosives, electronic timing-delay devices and detonators hidden in a suitcase. They also unearthed cash and nine passports inside a portable radio that could be used to monitor transmissions from ships, airplanes or the police.
Al-Jawary was traveling under the alias "Yousif Salim Sejaan" and refused to talk. He was carrying a French passport indicating he was born in Lebanon, and riding with a man who was a PLO officer.
German authorities soon learned why Al-Jawary was in the country. They had nabbed a total of 11 Palestinians and 40 pounds of explosives around the time of Al-Jawary's arrest. Two of the men admitted they were going to bomb targets in Germany — most likely, Jewish and Israeli ones.
All the explosives seized from Al-Jawary and the other men bore the same wrapping from a pastry shop in Beirut which served as a front for Fatah, the military arm of the PLO. Al-Jawary's fingerprints were on the wrapping.
Still, Germany released Al-Jawary long before the FBI knew that he had been taken into custody.
And he disappeared once again.
But those e-cell bombs did not. A group known as the 15 May Organization — named for the date that Israel was founded — began carrying out terror attacks from Lebanon, Tunis and Baghdad in the 1980s. Suitcase bombs made with e-cells were the 15 May trademark. Its leader was a skilled bomb-maker named Husayn al-Umari, commonly referred to as Abu Ibrahim. Ibrahim had an education in chemical and electrical engineering and a proclivity for targeting airliners. He also received KGB training.
In one high-profile attack in 1982, an explosion rocked a Pan Am jet flying to Honolulu from Tokyo, killing a 16-year-old Japanese boy and injuring several others.
Denny Kline was an explosives guru for the FBI and worked the 15 May cases. He also transported Al-Jawary's 1973 e-cell bomb to FBI headquarters in Washington.
As Kline recollects, the bombs were compared. Yes, both Al-Jawary and Ibrahim had used e-cells, but that was the only common denominator. This similarity didn't mean the bombs were built by the same person, Kline said.
The FBI's bomb expert worked closely with the CIA and never received any evidence or information to suggest that Al-Jawary was involved with 15 May.
But other investigators have since learned of the e-cell connection and believe it's a powerful one, because they were such sophisticated devices and so few people knew how to operate and create them.
"That's a big commonality especially since I don't know of anyone else using the e-cells in the bomb," said Billie Vincent, the former FAA security chief from 1982 to 1986 who studied the Ibrahim devices.
CIA investigative notes obtained by the AP, based on human intelligence and communication intercepts, indicate that Al-Jawary's nom de guerre was Abu Walid al-Iraqi. The notes link Al-Jawary to a man named Abdullah Labib, aka Col. Hawari, who took his orders from Arafat. The notes say that Al-Jawary also worked as a document forger for the PLO and Hawari.
Hawari, a senior Fatah security official and Arafat confidant, "inherited" elements of Black September, according to the CIA notes. Declassified State Department and CIA documents say Hawari took over 15 May in the mid-1980s while Ibrahim continued to supply his expertise.
According to declassified CIA records, Hawari orchestrated the 1986 attack on a TWA flight from Rome to Athens that killed four Americans, including an infant, after they were sucked out of the plane. The explosives used in the attack were linked to Ibrahim.
Hawari reportedly died in a car crash in 1991. Ibrahim, who was charged in the 1982 Pan Am attack, remains at large, possibly hiding out in Iraq.
Besides the use of e-cells, Al-Jawary had another link to 15 May. Ibrahim was suspected of being Black September's bomb maker, Kline and other former intelligence officials said.
Al-Jawary acted on behalf of Black September in 1973 when he rigged the car bombs in New York, federal prosecutors asserted in court documents.
FBI agent Mike Finnegan didn't know any of this when he arrived at work one day in 1988 to find the entire case file — many volumes and thousands of pages — sitting on his desk with a note that said: "Find Him" — find Al-Jawary.
Finnegan thought to himself: "I am screwed."
It took Finnegan a year to review the entire file. He followed every lead and re-interviewed witnesses. Nothing. He asked the CIA for help. Nothing.
Finnegan also looked at other terrorism cases involving bombs. There was one in particular that drew his attention: TWA Flight 841 crashed Sept. 8, 1974, in the Ionian Sea near Greece after an explosive device detonated.
Seventy-nine passengers and nine crew members were killed. Among them were 17 Americans on the flight that originated in Tel Aviv and was headed ultimately for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Thirteen days earlier, the same flight had landed in Rome. When a ramp agent opened the rear cargo compartment, smoke was found coming from a suitcase.
The fire was extinguished. Italian authorities wrongly determined it had started accidentally when batteries inside a tape recorder caused lighter fluid to ignite. One of the flight's passengers — Jose Maria Aveneda Garcia — stepped forward and identified the bag, according to recently declassified FBI files.
Garcia, who was probably using a fake Chilean passport, wasn't detained. Garcia's address in Rome was bogus.
The suitcase and contents were sent to an FBI laboratory in the U.S., which concluded it was a bomb.
The FBI tried to find Garcia. They never located him. The National Transportation Safety Board said the suitcase was "an attempt at the same form of sabotage" that downed the flight over the Ionian Sea.
Neither attack was ever solved. The suitcase was later destroyed.
Finnegan thought Al-Jawary had been behind the suitcase bomb. It employed an e-cell, according to the FBI. At that time, he was told, the use of an e-cell was a bomb signature.
"It had a very distinct timing device," said Finnegan, who retired in 2004. "It was almost like a foregone conclusion. This was my guy. I desperately wanted to resurrect that case."
James R. Lyons, a retired FBI agent who worked many big cases such as the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, said the use of e-cells in 1973 and 1974 would have been considered the signature of a bomb-maker, making Al-Jawary a prime suspect.
"Absolutely," said Lyons, who was also an FBI bomb technician. "I'd be going after the same guy. No doubt about it."
Another top FBI explosives expert, Dave Williams, said: "Look back in the '70s and '80s and there weren't too many bomb builders out there. So it was very likely that some of these bomb builders got their instructions from the same person or persons. If I were investigating it back then, I would have come to the conclusion that he was an integral part of that conspiracy."
But it wasn't Finnegan's call to pursue the 1974 attack. Street agents don't make those decisions. He had to focus on the New York investigation.
Finnegan had "computer-aged" pictures of Al-Jawary — ones from Al-Jawary's visits to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1971 and 1972. He also had one from a Jordanian driver's license that had been obtained from the investigation.
He now had a good idea what Al-Jawary looked like as a 45-year-old man, and he passed the photos along to foreign intelligence agencies.
In the fall of 1990, Finnegan learned Al-Jawary was residing on Cyprus — a center of terrorism — as the PLO's "cultural attache" under the name of Khaled Mohammed El-Jassem.
Finnegan finally had Al-Jawary in his sights, but then he was gone: In December, Al-Jawary escaped to Iraq, after he figured out the FBI was on to him. Finnegan was furious.
Then, some luck. In January 1991, Al-Jawary left Iraq to attend a funeral in Tunis for his good friend, Saleh Khalef, the leader of Black September and Arafat deputy known as Abu Iyad who had been gunned down by a rival Palestinian group.
But Al-Jawary's travel plans were derailed. He tried to go to Cyprus first but was denied entry. He was put on a plane to Athens. Again, denied entry. He flew to Italy.
Finnegan alerted the Italians that Al-Jawary was on his way. As he passed through Rome, Italian authorities detained him for using a fake Jordanian passport.
But the Italians were reluctant to give him to the FBI, said Robert Blitzer, who served in the FBI's International Terrorism Operations Section from 1986 to 1995.
"They didn't want to release him," Blitzer said. "They were afraid to release him."
After many months of diplomatic wrangling, Finnegan and Bassem Youssef, an Arabic-speaking FBI agent, flew to Rome on a military transport plane to take Al-Jawary back to the U.S.
Under intense security that included the closing of the Rome airport and its air space, Al-Jawary arrived on a helicopter gunship. He had iron plates protecting the front and back of his torso. He was wearing a Kevlar hood.
Inside the plane, Finnegan took off Al-Jawary's hood. Finnegan introduced himself to a bewildered Al-Jawary: "I am Mike Finnegan, New York office FBI."
Youssef began speaking to Al-Jawary in Arabic. Startled, Al-Jawary responded briefly, allowing Youssef enough time to detect a Palestinian dialect along with a Libyan one.
But Al-Jawary quickly switched back to English and began yelling, believing Youssef was an Israeli agent.
"I am not going to talk to you," an animated Al-Jawary told Youssef. "I am not talking to the Mossad."
Convinced, finally, that he was in the custody of the FBI, Al-Jawary collapsed in a chair, relieved. He allowed Finnegan to question him.
"The guy was definitely lying about a lot of things," Youssef said. "He did not want to telegraph anything about the truth."
Al-Jawary told Finnegan he wasn't in New York when the bombs were planted. The FBI had the wrong guy. The Mossad had framed him. He's not from Mosul, Iraq. He's not an Iraqi national as the American government asserted.
He's Khaled Mohammed El-Jassem, father of five and devoted husband. He's a victim of Israeli aggression and bombs, which killed his brother and an infant son.
In time, he would say that he was born in Palestine in 1947 but was forced to flee from his home after Israel was established in 1948 and war erupted with its Arab neighbors.
Al-Jawary claims in court filings that he grew up in refugee camps in Jordan. When he was 18, in 1965, he joined Arafat's PLO.
While mired in poverty, a resourceful Al-Jawary managed to earn a bachelor's degree in Palestinian history in Deraa, Jordan, in 1972. Later, he says, he was arrested in Damascus, Syria, from September 1972 to July 1973 — the period of the New York bombing attempts — for publishing an anti-Syrian letter in a local newspaper.
After graduation, Al-Jawary claims he taught history and Arabic in Jordan and married a woman named Rima Omar in 1975.
In 1977 the family moved to Beirut, where Al-Jawary claims he worked as a teacher. Five years later, Al-Jawary left Lebanon, choosing to start a new life in Nicosia, Cyprus, where he operated a legitimate business importing electronic equipment from Japan and exporting it to various Middle Eastern countries.
The store folded in a couple of years, according to his version. At some point, he became the PLO's cultural attache.
A Brooklyn jury didn't buy any of this. It took about three hours for the jury to convict Al-Jawary in 1993 — just days after the first attack on the World Trade Center — based on evidence that included his fingerprints on one of the bombs.
Judge Jack B. Weinstein sentenced Al-Jawary to 30 years in prison on April 16, 1993. Weinstein later rejected his pleas for mercy in a written opinion issued after the trial, saying the bombs would have "killed and maimed hundreds, caused large fires and terrorized thousands of people."
Al-Jawary, the judge wrote, was a serious threat.
"It is highly likely that were this defendant released he would continue his dangerous terrorist activities," the judge said.
Since his conviction, many top Palestinian officials have written to the judge on Al-Jawary's behalf, seeking his release. There's even a death certificate in court files along with witnesses claiming Al-Jawary was killed by Israeli shelling in 1988.
None of it was convincing. Al-Jawary's appeals foundered.
But those countless hours behind bars are almost over. Freedom looms for this gaunt and graying terrorist who has spent about a quarter of his life in maximum-security prisons. He was transferred recently to a federal detention center in Manhattan.
Al-Jawary is scheduled to be released Feb. 19 after completing only about half his term, including time served prior to his sentencing and credit for good behavior, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Once he's released, Al-Jawary will be handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held until his deportation.
It remains unclear where he'll go, largely because Al-Jawary's true identity remains in question — even to this day.
Those who helped put Al-Jawary behind bars believe he'll pick up where he left off.
"What is he going to do when he gets out?" McTigue said. "He'll be deported and received as a hero and go right back into his terrorist activities. He's had years to think about nothing else but causing havoc and destruction."
The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate (at) ap.org
DHS wants criminal aliens out?!?
Reply #335 on:
January 29, 2009, 07:52:05 PM »
Homeland secretary wants criminal aliens out of US
By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 12 mins ago
WASHINGTON – If you're a criminal and you're not entitled to be in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants you out of the country. Napolitano wants what she calls "criminal aliens" off American streets. She is looking at existing immigration enforcement programs to see if taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.
"That sounds very simple, but it's historically not been done," Napolitano said, speaking to reporters and senior Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials Thursday.
About 113,000 criminals who were in the U.S. illegally were deported last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The agency estimates there are now as many as 450,000 criminals in federal, state and local detention centers who are in the country illegally.
Napolitano said she wants to improve data-sharing among local, state and federal facilities. So far, there are jails in 26 counties across the country with computer systems that can talk instantly with immigration systems.
The goal, Napolitano said, is for federal immigration officials to know whether an inmate is in the country illegally immediately after he is processed into a detention facility. After the criminal serves his or her sentence, immigration officials can be ready to deport that person right away.
ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said the agency plans to expand this connectivity to all state and local detention centers over the next four years.
Napolitano, whose job includes overseeing immigration laws, says she also will go after criminal fugitives who are in the country illegally.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #336 on:
January 30, 2009, 08:15:49 AM »
That sounds good.....where is the catch? I will belive it when I see it, and I hope they do it.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #337 on:
January 31, 2009, 06:26:11 PM »
Al-Qaida and the Plague
Published: January 27, 2009
TOUGH CONDITIONS -- Undated photo released by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb on the Internet showing training and work of al-Qaida groups in Algeria. (Balkis Press photo via Newscom)
In the middle of the massive coverage of U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration, a rather troublesome news story emerged. Unfortunately, it failed to get the coverage it deserves. If confirmed, it deserves the full attention of the Obama administration: the story has to do with bio-terrorism.
The story began with a Jan. 6 report in the Algerian newspaper Echorouk that a number of terrorists had died of the plague in one of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) training camps in Tizi Ouzou. Another Algerian newspaper En-Nahar, affirmed that 50 terrorists have been diagnosed with the plague, 40 of whom have already died.
Now some analysts dismissed outright this story saying it was totally fallacious. But a few observations at this point give credibility to this story, even though one cannot be sure of the provenance of the plague. Consider the following:
1. Algerian authorities have been totally silent. Reliable sources usually willing to share information declined to comment on this report. As can be expected, Algerians authorities were not too pleased that the story was confirmed by American sources. Indeed the Washington Times confirmed through a senior U.S. intelligence official that an incident had taken place at an AQIM training camp that had to be shut down as a result.
2. Coincidence or not: 60 terrorists from AQIM from Tizi Ouzou (the same region where the incident allegedly occurred) decided to surrender to the authorities. It is very rare that such a large number of AQIM operatives defect at the same time. That could mean that they possibly got really scared by what had taken place in the training camp and did not want to get involved in biological weapon experimentation that could likely result in their deaths.
3. Over a year ago, Pakistani terrorists came to train in AQIM training camps and may have one way or another contributed to the production of that biological agent. Interestingly, the Washington Times mentions an intercepted communication between AQIM leaders and AQ Central in Pakistan relating the mishap.
4. Al-Qaida operatives in Europe had tried to develop biological weapons in the recent past. In France, Menad Benchelalli, a terrorist specialized in poisons had produced small amounts of ricin and Botulinum toxin that he intended to release in France. He was arrested in 2002.?Then in 2003, British authorities arrested seven individuals accused of also producing ricin.
5. AQIM was "hired" by AQ central mostly because of their extensive network in Europe that could allow them to strike Europe at some point. AQIM's leadership has been under intense pressure to attack European targets in order to maintain its credibility. In fact, by not using a "conventional" weapon, AQIM would prove its value to AQ Central. If the group was indeed developing a biological weapon, it was surely destined for delivery in Europe, and most likely in France.
Interestingly, AQIM did not wait long to refute this story. On Jan. 21, in a communiqué the group accused "some hypocrites who quoted their masters at the Algerian intelligence agency" of being behind this false story. The group also noted that this story was planted to dry up the well of new AQIM recruits. If indeed that is the case, it might be a very smart strategy that maybe should be copied.
Another explanation for the alleged deaths of the AQIM operatives is very bad hygienic situation in the camps. Indeed, several former AQIM terrorists told the Algerian En-Nahar newspaper that living conditions are horrendous and that numerous deaths resulted from poor hygiene. They add that the AQIM emirs (chiefs) quarantine the sick right away, because the disease propagates itself very quickly.
Whatever the explanation, it seems that there have been unexplained deaths among AQIM operatives. At this point, the developments of this story and its possible implications need to be closely monitored. Indeed a nightmarish scenario could unfold if one of the infected individuals boarded a flight to Paris, London or New York. This person could become de-facto the means of "delivering" the weapon.?
Olivier Guitta is an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant. You can read his latest work at
Pak islamo fascists in Brit threat to US homeland?
Reply #338 on:
February 09, 2009, 06:58:25 AM »
CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US
Barack Obama has been warned by the CIA that British Islamist extremists are the greatest threat to US homeland security.
By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 9:08PM GMT 07 Feb 2009
The CIA has told President Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US
American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain.
They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service.
A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain.
And a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama told The Sunday Telegraph that the CIA has stepped up its efforts in the last month after the Mumbai massacre laid bare the threat from Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group behind the attacks, which has an extensive web of supporters in the UK.
The CIA has already spent 18 months developing a network of agents in Britain to combat al-Qaeda, unprecedented in size within the borders of such a close ally, according to intelligence sources in both London and Washington.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama, told The Sunday Telegraph: "The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda's best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.
"The American security establishment believes that danger continues and there's very intimate cooperation between our security services to monitor that." Mr Riedel, who served three presidents as a Middle East expert on the White House National Security Council, added: "President Obama's national security team are well aware that this is a serious threat."
The British official said: "The Americans run their own assets in the Pakistani community; they get their own intelligence.
There's close cooperation with MI5 but they don't tell us the names of all their sources.
"Around 40 per cent of CIA activity on homeland threats is now in the UK. This is quite unprecedented."
Explaining the increase in CIA activity over the past month, Mr Riedel added: "In the aftermath of the Mumbai attack the US and the UK intelligence services now have to regard Lashkar-e-Taiba as just as serious a threat to both of our countries as al-Qaeda. They have a much more extensive base among Pakistani Diaspora communities in the UK than al–Qaeda."
Information gleaned by CIA spies in Britain has already helped thwart several terrorist attacks in the UK and was instrumental in locating Rashid Rauf, a British-born al-Qaeda operative implicated in a plot to explode airliners over the Atlantic, who was tracked down and killed in a US missile strike in November.
But some US intelligence officers are irritated that valuable manpower and resources have been diverted to the UK. One former intelligence officer who does contract work for the CIA dismissed Britain as a "swamp" of jihadis.
Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, admitted in January that the Security Service alone does not have the resources to maintain surveillance on all its targets. "We don't have anything approaching comprehensive coverage," he said.
The dramatic escalation in CIA activity in the UK followed the exposure in August 2006 of Operation Overt, the alleged airline bomb plot.
The British intelligence official revealed that CIA chiefs sent more resources to the UK because they were not prepared to see American citizens die as a result of MI5's inability to keep tabs on all suspects, even though the Security Service successfully uncovered the plot.
MI5 manpower will have doubled to 4,100 by 2011 but many in the US intelligence community do not think that is enough.
For their part, some British officials are queasy that information obtained by the CIA from British Pakistanis was used to help target Mr Rauf, a British citizen, whom they would have preferred to capture and bring to trial.
Sensitivities over the intelligence arrangement formed a key part of briefings given to Mr Obama, since they are central to what is often called "the most special part of the special relationship" and could complicate his dealings with Gordon Brown.
Tensions in transatlantic intelligence relations which were laid bare last week during the High Court battle over Binyam Mohamed, the British resident held in Guanatanamo Bay.
British judges wanted to publish details of the torture administered to Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, in US custody. But key paragraphs were blacked out after American officials threatened it could damage intelligence sharing between the two countries.
Intelligence experts said that a trusting intelligence relationship, in which one country does not publish intelligence data obtained by the other, is vital to both countries' national security.
Patrick Mercer, chairman of the House of Commons counter-terrorism sub-committee, said: "The special relationship is a huge benefit to us. It clearly works to our advantage and helps keep the people of the UK and the US safe.
"There is no doubt that a great deal of valuable intelligence vital to British national security is procured by American agents from British sources."
Mr Riedel added: "The partnership between the two intelligence communities is dynamic; it is one of great intimacy. We overuse the term special relationship, but this is an extraordinarily special relationship.
"Since September 11 the philosophy on both sides has been to err on the side of telling each other more rather than less. It is in everyone's interests that that continues."
What does this mean?!?
Reply #339 on:
February 09, 2009, 07:01:57 AM »
Second post of the morning:
/ Vol. 74, No. 22 /Wednesday, February 4, 2009 / Presidential Documents 6115
Presidential Determination No. 2009–15 of January 27, 2009
Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Related To Gaza
Memorandum for the Secretary of State
By the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the
United States, including section 2(c)(1) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (the ‘‘Act’’), as amended (22 U.S.C. 2601), I hereby determine, pursuant to section 2(c)(1) of the Act, that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act in an amount not to exceed $20.3 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza. You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the
THE WHITE HOUSE,
Washington, January 27, 2009
[FR Doc. E9–2488
Filed 2–3–09; 8:45 am]
Billing code 4710–10–P
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #340 on:
February 09, 2009, 11:42:37 AM »
20.3 million dollar stimulus for HAMAS.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #341 on:
February 09, 2009, 10:15:45 PM »
Will NSC Reorg Deal Realistically With Terrorist Threats?
By Michael Cutler
I am certain that I am not the only person who wished that our world was not plagued by the threat of terrorism. I am also not alone in my wish that our nation's economy and the economy of many other countries have been shaken to the core or that international criminals and terrorists are on the move around the globe, plying their trades wherever they can, seeking weaknesses and exploiting those weaknesses. The problem is that those critically important challenges confront our nation and most other nations on the face of this planet. Therefore it is imperative that our nation's leaders put political differences aside and stop pandering to the various special interest groups and business interests and make our nation's security the unequivocal number one priority!
This news article was forwarded to me by one of the many folks I have been in touch with ever since I decided to attempt to provide my insights concerning immigration in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It appeared in a British-based newspaper, the Telegraph, and addresses two of the many areas of concern I have been hammering away at; the Visa Waiver Program and the lack of resources devoted to enforcing the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
This second article appeared in yesterday's edition of the Washington Post and was entitled, "Obama's NSC Will Get New Power." If the whole point is to seek out and then devise strategies to protect our nation, then our nation's leaders must incorporate the issues of border security and the enforcement and administration of the immigration laws into their national security strategies.
Let's start out considering the Visa Waiver Program that the Bush administration, in its final weeks, expanded from 27 participating countries to 34 countries. The travel and hospitality interests hired Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security to be their "talking head" to hawk their program called, "Discover America." As I have pointed out on many occasions, Mr. Ridge and his deep-pocketed friends in the travel and hospitality industries appear to have forgotten that al-Qaeda and other terrorist and criminal organizations have already discovered America! Remember that citizens of Great Britain are eligible to seek to enter the United States without first applying for a visa.
Here is a review of the benefits to be gained by requiring visas of all foreign visitors seeking to enter the United States:
1. The visas requirement subjects aliens who seek to enter the United States to tighter scrutiny including those alien airline passengers on airliners that are destined to the United States. Richard Reid, the so-called "Shoe Bomber" was able to board an airliner destined to the United States, although he had no intentions of entering the United States. His apparent goal was to blow up the airliner and its many passengers somewhere over the depths of the Atlantic Ocean by detonating explosives he had concealed in his shoes. Because he is a subject of Great Britain, a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, Reid did not need to obtain a visa before he boarded that airliner.
2. The CBP inspectors are supposed to make a decision in one minute or less as to the admissibility of an alien seeking to enter the United States. The visa requirement helps them to do a more effective job. Their's is a tough job I can certainly attest to, I began my career at the former INS as an immigration inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and worked there for 4 years before I became a special agent.
3. The application for a nonimmigrant visa contains roughly 40 questions that could provide invaluable information to law enforcement officials should that alien become the target of a criminal or terrorist investigation. The information could provide intelligence as well as investigative leads
4. If an alien applicant lies on the application for a visa that lie is called "visa fraud." The maximum penalty for visa fraud starts out at 10 years in jail for those who commit this crime simply in order to come to the United States, ostensibly to seek unlawful employment or other such purpose. The penalty increases to 15 years in jail for those aliens who obtain a visa to commit a felony. For aliens who engage in visa fraud to traffic in narcotics or commit another narcotics-related crime, the maximum jail sentence that can be imposes rises to 20 years. Finally, when an alien can be proven to have engaged in visa fraud in furtherance of terrorism, the maximum penalty climbs to 25 years in prison. It is important to note that while it may be difficult to prove that an individual is a terrorist, it is usually relatively simple to prove that an alien has committed visa fraud.
5. The charge of visa fraud can also be extremely helpful to law enforcement authorities who want to take a bad guy off the street without tipping their hand to the other members of a criminal conspiracy or terrorism conspiracy that the individual arrested was being arrested for his involvement in terrorism or a criminal organization.
6. Even when an application for a visa is denied, the application can be maintained to track those who attempt to secure a visa for the United States.
These benefits do not apply when aliens are admitted under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program.
On May 11, 2006 I was called to testify before a Congressional hearing conducted by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives on the topic, "VISA OVERSTAYS: CAN WE BAR THE TERRORIST DOOR?"
As you read about the resources being poured into the development of informants in Great Britain within the Pakistani community I want you to consider another issue of extreme importance. The cultivation of informants is, arguably, one of the most important endeavors of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies. It is certainly extremely important to make use of sophisticated surveillance techniques to keep track of potential terrorists and their plots to attack our nation and our allies, but it is important to understand that the use of informants, especially in conjunction with those high-tech surveillance methods is vital for the successes upon which the security of our nation and the lives of our citizens depend.
It is not enough to know the name, for example, of a bad guy who may be involved in a terrorist or criminal plot, it is absolutely vital to be able to put a face with the name. That is where informants often come in to play.
Additionally, terrorists and criminals are not stupid. They know that if phones may be tapped or electronic communications may be intercepted, that they may have to resort to low-tech tactics such as using rented mail drops or courier services to communicate. Again, informants who can infiltrate an organization or a community, may well make the difference between a bunch of terrorists being caught before they have the opportunity to strike, or a devastating attack that kills many people.
As a former INS special agent, I was intimately involved in "flipping" or cultivating informants. As you may know, I spent nearly one half of my career working with other law enforcement agencies on investigations involving narcotics trafficking. I also worked with fellow law enforcement officers of the FBI and other agencies in several investigations involving terror suspects. One of my primary areas of responsibility was to use the statutory authority I had as an INS agent to help to recruit informants. The INS statutes provide large sticks and juicy carrots when you are dealing with aliens who are involved in criminal activities in the United States.
The challenge our country faces is that while much has been made about the security of our nation's borders, a critical issue, to be sure, almost no attention has been paid to the enforcement of the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States.
Most people seem to think that the interior enforcement of the immigration laws begin and end with the investigation of unscrupulous employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Certainly this is an important area of concern, but there are precious few resources allocated to going after aliens who commit immigration fraud in order to secure lawful status in the United States, including obtaining United States citizenship by committing fraud on their applications.
To make the importance of this aspect of immigration law enforcement simple to understand, you must think of fraud as a lie placed on an application by an alien or a person who files an application for that alien to provide him (her) with a benefit that would not be possible if the truth was known.
Informants constitute a vital tool to combat immigration fraud, narcotics trafficking, terrorism and all sorts of other violations of law. In order to help to make this effort as effective as possible, given the high-stakes nature of these efforts, especially when you consider the potential for devastating terrorist attacks, our nation needs to have many more special agents at ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) who can enforce the immigration laws and, in the process, develop informants to act as the "eyes and ears" of our law enforcement and intelligence officers.
On May 18,2004, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee who, at that time, was the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, requested that I testify at a hearing that was convened to explore the topic: "PUSHING THE BORDER OUT ON ALIEN SMUGGLING: NEW TOOLS AND INTELLIGENCE INITIATIVES"
All too many of our nation's leaders are, at the least, naive in considering the role that immigration can and must play to address these critically important national security threats that confront our nation, each and every day.
Several days ago, former Vice President Dick Cheney assailed the current administration and went on about the threat that terrorism poses. Meanwhile, the administration in which he was the number two man, ignored the threat posed by our utter lack of security on our borders. A responsible homeowner would lock his doors and windows, especially if he was concerned about burglars breaking in. The Bush administration did not only failed to lock the back door, but essentially took that door off of its hinges!
The previous administration created the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) that merged Customs and Immigration and then split the former INS into three separate and distinct agencies: CBP (Customs and Border Protection), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). This unwieldy arrangement, in my judgement, hobbled efforts to effectively enforce the immigration laws. This is why I came to refer to the DHS as being the Department of Homeland Surrender!
The process by which visa applications are processed obviously need to be understood from a national security perspective. Immigration law enforcement needs to also be conducted with an understanding that not only must our borders be secured against the entry of illegal aliens, among whom may well be criminals and terrorists, but that the entire immigration bureaucracy must be mindful of the potential for so-called "sleeper agents" seeking to enter our country and acquire lawful resident status and even United States citizenship that can then enable spies and terrorists to get sensitive jobs in industry and within the government, itself, to spy on our nation and gain access to critical infrastructure.
What also needs to be considered is that critical infrastructure can include many industries that have the potential to harm or kill large numbers of our citizens.
Food processing plants can be as significant, for example, as power generating plants. Schools, hotels, malls and hospitals are as important as national landmarks.
In our interconnected society, their are many pressure points that need to be protected. The presence of perhaps as 20 million illegal aliens whose identities, backgrounds, affiliations and intentions are unknown and unknowable represents a huge threat to our safety and the survival of our nation.
Any massive amnesty program will only make matters worse because any such program has the real potential of providing criminals and terrorists with official immigration status even though their true names are unknown.
During the campaign, President Obama promised us, "Change we can believe in."
I would love to see an end to the Visa Waiver Program. I would love to see the President, for once and for all, make it clear that illegal aliens will not be rewarded with lawful status after they violated our nation's laws and our nation's borders.
Let us remember that each and every year, the United States furnishes more aliens with lawful immigrant (resident alien) status than do all of the other countries of the world combined (more than one million)!
Remember, the difference between and immigrant and an illegal alien is comparable to the difference between a houseguest and a burglar.
By Michael Cutler on February 9, 2009 1:22 PM
Neo-Nazi "Dirty Bomb"
Reply #342 on:
February 12, 2009, 08:36:36 AM »
Report: 'Dirty bomb' parts found in slain man's home
Agency says radioactive materials recovered in home of man allegedly slain by his wife
BDN FILE PHOTO
Maine State Police Detective Bryant Jacques (left) takes empty boxes into the Cummings home on Dec. 10, 2008, during the investigation into the killing of James Cummings the day before.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KEVIN BENNETT
This photo (above) taken Tuesday shows the home at 346 High St. in Belfast where 29-year-old homicide victim James Cummings reportedly had bomb-making materials in the basement. Buy Photo
By Walter Griffin
BELFAST, Maine — James G. Cummings, who police say was shot to death by his wife two months ago, allegedly had a cache of radioactive materials in his home suitable for building a “dirty bomb.”
According to an FBI field intelligence report from the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center posted online by WikiLeaks, an organization that posts leaked documents, an investigation into the case revealed that radioactive materials were removed from Cummings’ home after his shooting death on Dec. 9.
The report posted on the WikiLeaks Web site states that “On 9 December 2008, radiological dispersal device components and literature, and radioactive materials, were discovered at the Maine residence of an identified deceased [person] James Cummings.”
The section referring to Cummings can be read here.
It says that four 1-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, thermite, aluminum powder, beryllium, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium ribbon were found in the home.
Also found was literature on how to build “dirty bombs” and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, radioactive materials. The FBI report also stated there was evidence linking James Cummings to white supremacist groups. This would seem to confirm observations by local tradesmen who worked at the Cummings home that he was an ardent admirer of Adolf Hitler and had a collection of Nazi memorabilia around the house, including a prominently displayed flag with swastika. Cummings claimed to have pieces of Hitler’s personal silverware and place settings, painter Mike Robbins said a few days after the shooting.
An application for membership in the National Socialist Movement filled out by Cummings also was found in the residence, according to the report. Cummings’ wife, Amber B. Cummings, 31, told investigators that her husband spoke of “dirty bombs,” according to the report, and mixed chemicals in her kitchen sink. She allegedly told police that Cummings subjected her to years of mental, physical and sexual abuse. She also said that Cummings was “very upset” when Barack Obama was elected president.
A “dirty bomb” is a type of “radiological dispersal device” that combines a conventional explosive such as dynamite with radioactive material, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Web site. “Most RDDs would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause severe illness,” the NRC says, adding that “a dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon” because its effects occur in a very limited area compared to a nuclear explosion.
The report noted that “uranium, thorium, cesium-137, stontium-90 and cobalt-60 are radioactive isotopes and 35 percent hydrogen peroxide is a necessary precursor for the manufacture of peroxide-based explosives. Lithium metal, thermite and aluminum are materials used to sensitize and amplify the effects of explosives.”
The report stated that the uranium component was bought online from a U.S. company that was identified in the investigation, but not in the report.
John Donnelley, an agent at the FBI’s Boston office, declined Tuesday to comment on the report. Donnelley said some FBI reports are provided to law enforcement agencies and sometimes get released to media outlets.
“I wouldn’t be prepared to speak on that,” Donnelley said. “I have no comment.”
The Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center is an intelligence gathering office affiliated with Washington, D.C., law enforcement. Telephone and e-mail messages left with the center Tuesday were not returned.
State police have identified Amber Cummings as the person who shot James Cummings. The couple’s 9-year-old daughter was present the morning of the shooting in what police have described as a domestic violence homicide.
Amber Cummings, who is staying in the Belfast area, has not been charged in the case, although the Waldo County grand jury currently meeting in Belfast could take up the matter during its session this week. While state police have acknowledged that the 29-year-old Cummings was killed by a gunshot, the results of the autopsy have been impounded, as have the search warrants executed at Cummings’ High Street home following the shooting. Authorities spent days searching the home, according to neighbors.
Lt. Gary Wright, who heads up the Maine State Police Criminal Investigation Division team working the case, declined to comment on any aspects of the case when contacted Tuesday.
“We’re not going to comment on anything,” Wright said Tuesday evening. “It’s an open homicide investigation and we’re not going to comment. That’s our standard policy.”
Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, also had no comment on the report. “This is an active, open homicide investigation,” he said Tuesday evening, “and as a result, it’s inappropriate to get into confirming or denying aspects of that.”
Maine Deputy Attorney General William Stokes also declined to comment on the report Tuesday.
David Farmer, spokesman for Gov. John Baldacci, said Tuesday that it was inappropriate for the governor to comment on an open investigation. When asked about the copy of the field report sent to him by the Bangor Daily News, he said, “At this point, I have been unable to confirm the authenticity of the documents you sent to us.”
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ staff said there was no one able to comment on the report Tuesday night.
Telephone messages left with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were not returned Tuesday evening. Robbins, who worked on the house for a month last summer, described Cummings as an angry person who was verbally abusive to his wife. He said Cummings apparently was independently wealthy and did not work. Robbins said Cummings talked incessantly about his love of guns and his fascination for Hitler. He said Cummings repeatedly berated his wife about home-schooling their daughter. He said Cummings had a controlling personality and wanted to know his wife and child’s every move.
Cummings grew up in California and lived in Texas before moving to Maine in August 2007. Although Robbins said Cummings told him he made his money in Texas real estate, it appears that the actual source of his wealth was a trust fund established by his father, a prominent landowner in the Northern California city of Fort Bragg. An Internet search of the James B. Cummings Trust indicated that it has an annual income of $10 million.
The FBI field intelligence report was apparently first reported on by unattributable.com, an online magazine which covers and blogs on current events.
BDN writer Dawn Gagnon in Bangor contributed to this report.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #343 on:
February 12, 2009, 11:46:21 AM »
and here's this:
FBI may shift counterterror agents to anti-fraud
By DEVLIN BARRETT
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; 6:05 PM
WASHINGTON -- With thousands of fraud investigations under way, the FBI is considering shifting agents away from counterterrorism work to help sort through the wreckage of the financial meltdown.
FBI Deputy Director John Pistole told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the bureau may reassign some of the positions that were reallocated to anti-terrorism work after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Such a move would be a further sign of the government breaking with the Bush administration's priorities, which pledged to assign every available resource to averting another terrorist attack. Pistole told Congress his investigators have 530 active corporate fraud investigations, and 38 of them involve some of the biggest names in corporate finance _ cases directly related to the current crisis.
In addition, FBI investigators are tackling an even bigger mountain of mortgage fraud cases in which hundreds of millions of dollars may have been swindled from the system, he told lawmakers. The FBI now has more than 1,800 open mortgage fraud investigations, more than double the number of such cases just two years ago. There are so many mortgage fraud cases to investigate, he said, that the bureau is not focusing on individual purchasers, but industry professionals generating fraud schemes that could total as much as hundreds of millions of dollars.
"It is a matter of lawyers, brokers or real estate professionals that are systematically trying to defraud the system," Pistole said.
Agents have even seen some instances of organized crime getting involved in mortgage fraud, he said.
Also appearing before the committee was Neil Barofsky, the watchdog of the government's $700 billion Wall Street rescue package passed last year.
Senate Democrats are urging more spending to expand the ranks of the FBI's financial fraud investigators. After the 2001 terror attacks, about 2,000 FBI agents were moved to counterterrorism work, and Pistole said they are considering moving some of them back to beef up anti-fraud efforts.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., urged the FBI and the Justice Department to put people who have committed mortgage fraud behind bars.
"Most people are honest," Leahy said. "The ones who are not honest in this field are creating economic havoc and I want to make sure that we're able to go after them. I want to see people prosecuted.... Frankly, I want to see them go to jail".
Barofsky, who was appointed the inspector general of the ongoing financial bailout plan, suggested the best way to clean up mortgage fraud is to pursue licensed professionals in the industry, and make examples of them.
"They have the most to lose, they're the most likely to flip, and they make the best examples," said Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor in New York.
Chinagate led to 9/11
Reply #344 on:
February 12, 2009, 09:57:12 PM »
GM's post moved to here:
**Ah, thank god the dems are in control again. Nothing to worry about.**
How Chinagate Led to 9/11
By Jean Pearce
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 25, 2004
As the 9/11 Commission tries to uncover what kept intelligence agencies from preventing September 11, it has overlooked two vital factors: Jamie Gorelick and Bill Clinton. Gorelick, who has browbeaten the current administration, helped erect the walls between the FBI, CIA and local investigators that made 9/11 inevitable. However, she was merely expanding the policy Bill Clinton established with Presidential Decision Directive 24. What has been underreported is why the policy came about: to thwart investigations into the Chinese funding of Clinton’s re-election campaign, and the favors he bestowed on them in return.
In April, CNSNews.com staff writer Scott Wheeler reported that a senior U.S. government official and three other sources claimed that the 1995 memo written by Jamie Gorelick, who served as the Clinton Justice Department’s deputy attorney general from 1994 to 1997, created "a roadblock" to the investigation of illegal Chinese donations to the Democratic National Committee. But the picture is much bigger than that. The Gorelick memo, which blocked intelligence agents from sharing information that could have halted the September 11 hijacking plot, was only the mortar in a much larger maze of bureaucratic walls whose creation Gorelick personally oversaw.
It’s a story the 9/11 Commission may not want to hear, and one that Gorelick – now incredibly a member of that commission – has so far refused to tell. But it is perhaps the most crucial one to understanding the intentional breakdown of intelligence that led to the September 11 disaster.
Nearly from the moment Gorelick took office in the Clinton Justice Department, she began acting as the point woman for a large-scale bureaucratic reorganization of intelligence agencies that ultimately placed the gathering of intelligence, and decisions about what – if anything – would be done with it under near-direct control of the White House. In the process, more than a dozen CIA and FBI investigations underway at the time got caught beneath the heel of the presidential boot, investigations that would ultimately reveal massive Chinese espionage as millions in illegal Chinese donations filled Democratic Party campaign coffers.
When Gorelick took office in 1994, the CIA was reeling from the news that a Russian spy had been found in CIA ranks, and Congress was hungry for a quick fix. A month after Gorelick was sworn in, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 24. PDD 24 put intelligence gathering under the direct control of the president’s National Security Council, and ultimately the White House, through a four-level, top-down chain of command set up to govern (that is, stifle) intelligence sharing and cooperation between intelligence agencies. From the moment the directive was implemented, intelligence sharing became a bureaucratic nightmare that required negotiating a befuddling bureaucracy that stopped directly at the President’s office.
First, the directive effectively neutered the CIA by creating a National Counterintelligence Center (NCI) to oversee the Agency. NCI was staffed by an FBI agent appointed by the Clinton administration. It also brought multiple international investigations underway at the time under direct administrative control. The job of the NCI was to “implement counterintelligence activities,” which meant that virtually everything the CIA did, from a foreign intelligence agent’s report to polygraph test results, now passed through the intelligence center that PDD 24 created.
NCI reported to an administration-appointed National Counterintelligence Operations Board (NCOB) charged with “discussing counterintelligence matters.” The NCOB in turn reported to a National Intelligence Policy Board, which coordinated activities between intelligence agencies attempting to work together. The policy board reported “directly” to the president through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
The result was a massive bureaucratic roadblock for the CIA – which at the time had a vast lead on the FBI in foreign intelligence – and for the FBI itself, which was also forced to report to the NCOB. This hampered cooperation between the two entities. All this occurred at a time when both agencies were working separate ends of investigations that would eventually implicate China in technology transfers and the Democratic Party in a Chinese campaign cash grab.
And the woman charged with selling this plan to Congress, convincing the media and ultimately implementing much of it? Jamie Gorelick.
Many in Congress, including some Democrats, found the changes PDD 24 put in place baffling: they seemed to do nothing to insulate the CIA from infiltration while devastating the agency’s ability to collect information. At the time, Democrat House Intelligence Chairman Dan Glickman referred to the plan as “regulatory gobbledygook." Others questioned how FBI control of CIA intelligence would foster greater communication between the lower levels of the CIA and FBI, now that all information would have to be run through a multi-tier bureaucratic maze that only went upward.
Despite their doubts, Gorelick helped the administration sell the plan on Capitol Hill. The Directive stood.
But that wasn’t good enough for the Clinton administration, which wanted control over every criminal and intelligence investigation, domestic and foreign, for reasons that would become apparent in a few years. For the first time in Justice Department history, a political appointee, Richard Scruggs – an old crony or Attorney General Janet Reno’s from Florida – was put in charge of the Office of Intelligence and Policy Review (OIPR). OIPR is the Justice Department agency in charge of requesting wiretap and surveillance authority for criminal and intelligence investigations on behalf of investigative agencies from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. The court’s activities are kept secret from the public.
A year after PDD 24, with the new bureaucratic structure loaded with administration appointees, Gorelick drafted the 1995 memo Attorney General John Ashcroft mentioned while testifying before the 9/11 Commission. The Gorelick memo, and other supporting memos released in recent weeks, not only created walls within the intelligence agencies that prevented information sharing among their own agents, but effectively walled these agencies off from each other and from outside contact with the U.S. prosecutors instrumental in helping them gather the evidence needed to make the case for criminal charges.
The only place left to go with intelligence information – particularly for efforts to share intelligence information or obtain search warrants – was straight up Clinton and Gorelick’s multi-tiered chain of command. Instead, information lethal to the Democratic Party languished inside the Justice Department, trapped behind Gorelick’s walls.
The implications were enormous. In her letter of protest to Attorney General Reno over Gorelick’s memo, United States Attorney Mary Jo White spelled them out: “These instructions leave entirely to OIPR and the (Justice Department) Criminal Division when, if ever, to contact affected U.S. attorneys on investigations including terrorism and espionage,” White wrote. (Like OIPR, the Criminal Division is also part of the Justice Department.)
Without an enforcer, the walls Gorelick’s memo put in place might not have held. But Scruggs acted as that enforcer, and he excelled at it. Scruggs maintained Gorelick’s walls between the FBI and Justice's Criminal Division by threatening to automatically reject any FBI request for a wiretap or search warrant if the Bureau contacted the Justice Department's Criminal Division without permission. This deprived the FBI, and ultimately the CIA, of gathering advice and assistance from the Criminal Division that was critical in espionage and terrorist cases.
It is no coincidence that this occurred at the same time both the FBI and the CIA were churning up evidence damaging to the Democratic Party, its fundraisers, the Chinese and ultimately the Clinton administration itself. Between 1994 and the 1996 election, as Chinese dollars poured into Democratic coffers, Clinton struggled to reopen high-tech trade to China. Had agents confirmed Chinese theft of weapons technology or its transfer of weapons technology to nations like Pakistan, Iran and Syria, Clinton would have been forced by law and international treaty to react.
Gorelick’s appointment to the job at Justice in 1994 occurred during a period in which the FBI had begun to systematically investigate technology theft by foreign powers. For the first time, these investigations singled out the U.S. chemical, telecommunications, aircraft and aerospace industries for intelligence collection.
By the time Gorelick wrote the March 1995 memo that sealed off American intelligence agencies from each other and the outside world, all of the most critical Chinagate investigations by American intelligence agencies were already underway. Some of their findings were damning:
In an investigation originally instigated by the CIA, the FBI was beginning its search for the source of the leak of W-88 nuclear warhead technology to China among the more than 1,000 people who had access to the secrets. Despite Justice Department stonewalling and the Department’s refusal to seek wiretap authority in 1997, the investigation eventually led to Wen Ho Lee and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The FBI first collected extensive evidence in 1995 linking illegal Democratic Party donations to China, according to the Congressional Record. But Congress and the Director of the CIA didn’t find out about the Justice Department’s failure to act upon that evidence until 1997, safely after the 1996 election.
According to classified CIA documents leaked to the Washington Times, between 1994 and 1997, the CIA learned that China sold Iran missile technology, a nuclear fission reactor, advanced air-defense radar and chemical agents. The Chinese also provided 5,000 ring magnets to Pakistan, used in producing weapons-grade uranium. The Chinese also provided uranium fuel for India's reactors.
In many cases the CIA resorted to leaking classified information to the media, in an effort to bypass the administration’s blackout.
Gorelick knew these facts well. While Clinton may have refused to meet with top CIA officials, Gorelick didn’t. According to a 1996 report by the legal news service American Lawyer Media, Gorelick and then-Deputy Director of the CIA George Tenet met every other week to discuss intelligence and intelligence sharing.
But those in the Clinton administration weren’t the only ones to gain from the secrecy. In 1994, the McDonnell Douglas Corporation transferred military-use machine tools to the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation that ended up in the hands of the Chinese army. The sale occurred despite Defense Department objections. McDonnell Douglas was a client of the Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin, L.L.P. (now called Baker Botts), the Washington, D.C., law firm where Gorelick worked for 17 years and was a partner. Ray Larroca, another partner in the firm, represented McDonnell in the Justice Department’s investigation of the technology transfer.
In 1995, General Electric, a former client of Gorelick’s, also had much to lose if the damaging information the CIA and the FBI had reached Congress. At the time, GE was publicly lobbying for a lucrative permit to assist the Chinese in replacing coal-fired power stations with nuclear plants. A 1990 law required that the president certify to Congress that China was not aiding in nuclear proliferation before U.S. companies could execute the business agreement.
Moreover, in 1995, Michael Armstrong, then the CEO of Hughes Electronics – a division of General Electric and another client of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin – was publicly lobbying Clinton to switch satellite export controls from the State Department to the Commerce Department. After the controls were lifted, Hughes and another company gave sensitive data to the Chinese, equipment a Pentagon study later concluded would allow China to develop intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles aimed at American targets. Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin partner Randall Turk represented Hughes in the Congressional, State Department, and Justice Department investigations that resulted.
The Cox Report, which detailed Chinese espionage for Congress during the period, revealed that FBI surveillance caught Chinese officials frantically trying to keep Democratic donor Johnny Chung from divulging any information that would be damaging to Hughes Electronics. Chung funneled $300,000 in illegal contributions from the Chinese military to the DNC between 1994 and 1996.
It was this web of investigations that led Gorelick and Bill Clinton to erect the wall between intelligence agencies that resulted in the toppling of the Twin Towers. The connections go on and on, but they all lead back to Gorelick, the one person who could best explain how the Clinton administration neutered the American intelligence agencies that could have stopped the September 11 plot. Yet another high crime will have been committed if the September 11 Commission doesn’t demand testimony from her.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #345 on:
February 13, 2009, 09:39:23 AM »
Speaking of agencies not speaking to each other, we have the INS (immigration enforcement) which I think has changed names and changed departments (are they still in business?) and we have the Census Bureau which periodically tracks every little private detail about every living person hidden anywhere in the country, for political purposes. One reason Judd Gregg stepped down from becoming Commerce Secretary was because the Glibness Group wants control of the Census moved from Commerce to the White House. The reason the WHite House wants greater control is to make a more aggressive count of the 'new people' in the country.
It ocurrs to me that while we are spending federal dollars and sending federal agents to comb all neighborhoods, finding out every private detail about their life for political purposes... maybe we could also use that opportunity to ask them for documentation for citizen or visitor status. Just a thought.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #346 on:
February 13, 2009, 10:02:15 AM »
"The reason the WHite House wants greater control is to make a more aggressive count of the 'new people' in the country."
But why do they need to bring Census into the White House to accomplish this? After 200 years of census taking.
What are they really up to? Why would we trust them to not *manipulate* data for redistricting purposes and other political maneuvers?
If this was a Republican doing this the MSM would be all over this. I think Lou Dobbs has brought this up.
MSNBC is already congratulating BO for his achievement with the spending bill. But what is the great achievement when you have the same parties controlling both houses on your side? This is nothing like when Reagan came in and got opposing parties to agree.
While I don't think the Republicans just calling for tax cuts as the answer to everything a gigantic spending bill so huge and long that those voting on cannot even read it or know what is in it was not the answer I had in mind. The comparisons to Lincoln boggles the mind for anyone who knows anything about history. Yet probably most youngsters today know little if anything about Lincoln. But they all know about Phelps. I lamment. I will be doing that a lot for the next eight and probably 12 or 16 yearss.
Reply #347 on:
February 13, 2009, 12:08:52 PM »
Not sure if there is a better place for this, but it's the first place I found that made sense. . . .
February 12, 2009 7:27 AM PST
Obama's BlackBerry brings personal safety risks
by Chris Soghoian
When the mainstream media first announced Barack Obama's "victory" in keeping his BlackBerry, the focus was on the security of the device, and keeping the U.S. president's e-mail communications private from spies and hackers.
The news coverage and analysis by armchair security experts thus far has failed to focus on the real threat: attacks against President Obama's location privacy, and the potential physical security risks that come with someone knowing the president's real-time physical location.
Before we dive in, let's take a moment to note that each mobile phone has a unique serial number, known as an IMEI, or MEID. This unique number is transmitted in clear text, every time the phone communicates with a nearby cell tower. Thus, while the contents of a phone call or the data session (for e-mail) are usually encrypted, anyone with the right equipment can home in on a particular IMEI and identify the location of the source of that signal.
The most common device used to locate a phone by its IMEI is a "Triggerfish", a piece of equipment that is routinely used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This kind of device tricks nearby cell phones into transmitting their serial numbers and other information by impersonating a cell tower.
The devices, which are actually fairly low-tech, were used to hunt down famed hacker Kevin Mitnick back in the 1990s. Most interesting of all, according to Department of Justice documents, Triggerfish can be used to reveal a suspect's location "without the user knowing about it and without involving the cell phone provider."
The expensive brand-name Triggerfish devices, made by the Harris Corp., are sold only to government agencies. However, it is almost certain that foreign governments have similar technology. Furthermore, someone with a low budget could likely use the open-source GNU Radio platform, which can already decipher GSM signals, to roll their own phone sniffer.
We know that the president has been given a White House-issued BlackBerry phone. As a result, Obama's smartphone is broadcasting its IMEI serial number for anyone with the right equipment to detect.
Of course, the president is never alone, and so it is likely that anyone sniffing the wireless spectrum near the president would pick up hundreds of different BlackBerrys in the area.
However, Obama's aides do have to go home at some point, whereas Obama sleeps at the White House. This means that over the course of several days or weeks, it should be possible for a patient adversary to determine which IMEI belongs to the president's phone, and which IMEIs are associated with the phones of aides, simply by following the president (at a distance) and monitoring the spectrum at all hours.
As staffers go home for the evening, and Secret Service agents rotate out of duty, an adversary can strike their IMEI numbers off of the list. Within days, that initial list of 100 BlackBerrys can be reduced down to a single IMEI identifying the president's phone
Were someone to learn the president's IMEI, they could use it to gain valuable (and dangerous) information. For example, by pointing an antenna at the White House, it'd be possible to instantly determine if the president was inside. With a sophisticated-enough antenna, it might even be possible to determine which vehicle the president is sitting in while traveling in a motorcade, or to determine if the Secret Service is driving an empty limousine along a high-profile route to draw attention, while the president travels to a venue in an unmarked vehicle. The digital trail left by the president's BlackBerry would soon announce his presence to those keeping an eye out for his IMEI.
I am sure that others could come up with even more nefarious uses for real-time access to the president's physical location. I will leave that task to the blogosphere.
The simple solution to this problem, of course, is for the President to regularly change his IMEI serial number by getting a new phone. However, this presents another problem: that of the odd man out.
Imagine that foreign spies point a directional antenna at the White House and are thus able to capture the IMEI numbers of Obama and his team, as they leave and return to the White House from various events.
If a new IMEI number were to suddenly appear, be used for one week, disappear, and then be replaced by a new IMEI, which was also used for a week, before also disappearing, it would soon be obvious that a single person was changing phones. This pattern would be even more obvious, if everyone else in the president's entourage kept using their own phone--and thus broadcast the same IMEI, week after week.
Simply put, the only way that President Obama can gain some level of anonymity with regard to his IMEI number is if everyone in his team also changes their IMEI numbers with the same regularity.
Fans of the HBO TV show The Wire (a group that includes Obama) will no doubt remember the use of cheap prepaid "burner" phones by the fictional drug dealers. In order to avoid being wiretapped by the police, the entire criminal gang would dispose of their phones at once and switch to brand-new devices.
Essentially, the White House needs to start using burners.
It would be extremely expensive (and wasteful) for the president and his staff to get a new BlackBerry each week. Luckily, there are two options available to the White House tech staff that allow them to protect the president's location privacy in a cost-effective (and environmentally friendly) way:
First, the White House geek team can simply shuffle the BlackBerrys used by the President's staff. That is, take away everyone's phone, mix them up, restore the software to the factory default, then issue a "new" phone to each staffer.
Within minutes, the phones would synchronize with the White House e-mail servers, and thus the "new" devices would have instant access to the e-mails and information that had been on the previous device.
The inconvenience factor of such a solution could also be significantly reduced by having twice as many phones as employees--that way, staff would not have to go without their phone for more than a minute or two, as they were swapped each week.
As long as this shuffling of phones were done randomly, the IMEI numbers would be sufficiently anonymized. Sure, a potential attacker would know that the device belonged to a member of the White House staff, but they would not know whether if belonged to a lowly intern, the press secretary, or the president.
A slightly more laborious method would be to hack the software running on the BlackBerrys and flash the devices with a new serial number. While this is quite possibly a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which prohibits most forms of phone hacking), it is unlikely that Research In Motion (which makes the BlackBerry) would sue the White House for engaging in such reverse engineering.
Of course, the downside of giving each phone a new serial number is that these phones would then need to be re-registered with the wireless communication company, which would otherwise refuse to provide the devices with service. However, this additional burden for the White House techies would yield significant security benefits, as each phone would be given a clean IMEI number not associated with the White House.
In this article, I've focused solely on the scenario of a bad guy with an antenna. There is also the very real (and significant) risk of an insider working for the phone company.
Insiders are a notoriously difficult security problem to fix, something Obama has likely already learned, after his passport file was read by a contractor working for the State Department.
Even if every person working for the White House's telecommunications carrier were honest, it could also be possible to social-engineer the information out of a customer service representative (otherwise known as "pretexting").
Alternatively, an adversary could simply hack into the computer systems used by the phone company in order to get information on Obama's phone. Is was this latter approach that was followed by an unknown attacker who was able to spy on the phone calls of more than 100 Greek government officials during the 2004 Olympics.
President Obama is likely to go on many foreign trips during his four (or more) years in office. In addition to burdening taxpayers with the obscene international roaming rates associated with his foreign BlackBerry usage, there are new and more serious security concerns to consider.
The federal government can most likely trust AT&T and the other wireless carriers. After all, they did join forces with the National Security Agency to spy on millions of American's phone calls without a warrant. The telecommunication companies in foreign countries are far less likely to be pro-United States, and in some cases, they are likely to be working closely with foreign intelligence agencies.
Thus, as long as President Obama keeps his BlackBerry turned on while he is in China, it is likely that the Chinese government will be closely monitoring his location, as reported by the president's phone to the Chinese government-owned phone company. The same sort of security issues will likely arise in many other countries.
Due to these security concerns, this blogger would be extremely surprised if the Secret Service permitted the President to use his BlackBerry when on foreign trips.
As you can see, the use of a BlackBerry by the president creates a number of very real security headaches that are no doubt keeping several people at the Secret Service awake at night. While the initial focus of the press was on the e-mail and smartphone technology in the president's phone, the real threats and risks are actually associated with more boring functions of the device.
Further reading: M. Jakobsson and S. Wetzel. "Security Weaknesses in Bluetooth" (PDF) describes some very similar location privacy attacks against mobile phones using Bluetooth-based sniffers.
Christopher Soghoian delves into the areas of security, privacy, technology policy and cyber-law. He is a student fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society , and is a PhD candidate at Indiana University's School of Informatics. His academic work and contact information can be found by visiting
. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #348 on:
February 15, 2009, 09:05:21 PM »
The Coming Swarm
By JOHN ARQUILLA
Published: February 14, 2009
WITH three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.
The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.
While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years. Jemaah Islamiyah — the group responsible for the Bali nightclub attack that killed 202 people in 2002 — mounted simultaneous attacks on 16 Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, befuddling security forces.
Even 9/11 itself had swarm-like characteristics, as four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses. In the years since, Al Qaeda has coordinated swarm attacks in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere. And at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, terrorists repeatedly used swarms on targets as small as truck convoys and as large as whole cities.
This pattern suggests that Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.
While the specifics of the federal counterterrorism strategy are classified, what is in the public record indicates that the plan contemplates having to deal with as many as three sites being simultaneously hit and using “overwhelming force” against the terrorists, which probably means mustering as many as 3,000 ground troops to the site. If that’s an accurate picture, it doesn’t bode well. We would most likely have far too few such elite units for dealing with a large number of small terrorist teams carrying out simultaneous attacks across a region or even a single city.
Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits. Another option would be to set loose half a dozen two-man sniper teams in some metropolitan area — you only have to recall the havoc caused by the Washington sniper in 2002 to imagine how huge a panic a slightly larger version of that form of terrorism would cause.
So how are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential.
We’ve actually had a good test case in Iraq over the past two years. Instead of responding to insurgent attacks by sending out large numbers of troops from distant operating bases, the military strategy is now based on hundreds of smaller outposts in which 40 or 50 American troops are permanently stationed and prepared to act swiftly against attackers. Indeed, their very presence in Iraqi communities is a big deterrent. It’s small surprise that overall violence across Iraq has dropped by about 80 percent in that period.
For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing, and could even include an element of outreach to residents similar to that undertaken in the Sunni areas of Iraq — even if it were to mean taking the paradoxical turn of negotiating with gangs about security.
At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen.
Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen all responded to Qaeda attacks with similar “packetizing” initiatives involving the police and armed forces; and while that hasn’t eliminated swarm attacks, the terrorists have been far less effective and many lives have been saved.
As for Afghanistan, where the swarm has just arrived, there is still time to realize the merits of forming lots of small units and sprinkling them about in a countrywide network of outposts. As President Obama looks to send more troops to that war, let’s make sure the Pentagon does it the right way.
Yes, the swarm will be heading our way, too. We need to get smaller, closer and quicker. The sooner the better.
John Arquilla teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School and is the author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.”
Re: Homeland Security
Reply #349 on:
February 17, 2009, 07:52:15 PM »
NYPD trains hard to not be “outgunned” by terrorists
By TOM HAYS
Associated Press Writer
Operators from the NYPD Emergency Services Unit move in a stack formation as they prepare to enter a building during training at the NYPD H.I.D.T.A., pronounced "highduh" (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) training site in Orchard Beach, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 in New York. The training was to simulate response in the event of a terrorist attack similar to those that occurred in Mumbai, India in December 2008. (AP Photo)
News Report: Is Mumbai a call to arms for police around the world?
Urban Shield 2008: Plan, prepare and train
NEW YORK — The team of police officers crisscrosses down a New York City block, bracing for a potential firefight with heavily armed suspects who have taken hostages inside a building.
"We know there are hostages in there," Lt. Kenneth Beatty warns while supervising the operation. "The number's unknown."
It's not real, but it's not a standard training session, either.
Local authorities believe New York City could be a potential target of militants trained and supplied as well as those who staged coordinated attacks in Mumbai last November, and New York Police Department leaders are determined not to be outgunned.
"Terrorists are thinking creatively about new tactics," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said last week at a City Council public safety hearing. "So must we."
The largest U.S. police department launched a counterterrorism initiative this month to train a new team of officers with semiautomatic rifles loaded with armor-piercing bullets. The officers also are being trained in tactics for close quarters combat and rescuing hostages in hotels and other high-rise buildings.
After the three-day assault in Mumbai on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in November left 164 people dead, the NYPD dispatched investigators to India to see if there were any security lessons for New York. They were struck by how the 10 shooters calmly caused so much mayhem by relying on cell-phone communication and Chinese knockoff AK-47s. The local police and security officers, they said, were clearly overwhelmed.
"Their weapons were not sufficiently powerful and they were not trained for that type of conflict," Kelly said. "It took more than 12 hours for properly armed Indian commandos to arrive."
The NYPD's 400 Emergency Service Unit officers already can carry fully automatic Colt M4 rifles -- what the manufacturer bills as "the weapon of the 21st century soldier."
But post-Mumbai, the department decided to train about 130 reinforcements from its Organized Crime Control Bureau with Ruger Mini-14s in case a militant force even larger than the one that struck India's financial capital invaded here. Police academy recruits will get a tutorial on how to secure assault weapons recovered in combat situations or, in a pinch, how to shoot them.
The NYPD also has begun videotaping the interiors of large hotels so emergency service officers can learn their layouts and match wits with terrorists who, as in Mumbai, may have done surveillance. In addition, Kelly told the council that police want to explore ways to disrupt cell phone service "in a pinpointed way against terrorists who are using them."
The training session last week took place at the police department's firearms training facility on a desolate, wind-swept peninsula in the borough of the Bronx. The street the officers crisscrossed is the NYPD version of a movie studio back lot, with mock street signs, cinderblock storefronts, even a yellow cab and city bus. The guns can't fire. The hostages are played by other officers.
Instructors drilled officers on how to rescue hostages while giving each other cover. They warned that terrorists could try to blend in with victims. Any lapse in concentration could prove deadly.
"You guys have to communicate!" one instructor yelled as the officers secured a darkened stairwell as an escape route.
At a nearby firing range, another set of officers used their assault weapons to blast away at targets. They would shoot 600 rounds over two days to complete the training.
Some of the guns were purposely rigged to suddenly fire blanks _ a signal to the officers to practice dropping a jammed weapon and immediately draw their semiautomatic pistols and keep shooting. When the shooting stopped, the range was littered with shell casings and empty magazines.
The exercise was another sign of a new era in policing, said Assistant Chief George Anderson, commanding officer of the police academy.
"We've always been prepared to deal with criminals, not terrorists," Anderson said. "Now we have to go to the next level."
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