Tag: al Qaeda
When James B. Comey became the FBI’s new director last year, many observers believed he’d usher in a new era at the bureau by shifting some of the focus away from terrorism.
But the New York Times reports that Comey, a former Justice Department prosecutor who focused on gun cases, appears to have underestimated the threat still posed by terrorism.
“I didn’t have anywhere near the appreciation I got after I came into this job just how virulent those affiliates had become,” Mr. Comey said, referring to offshoots of Al Qaeda in Africa and in the Middle East during an interview with the Times at the J. Edgar Hoover Building. “There are both many more than I appreciated, and they are stronger than I appreciated.”
Comey said he therefore will keep terrorism as the main focus of the FBI.
President Obama appeared to indicate last year that the U.S. would move past terrorism soon and that “we have to recognize that the scale of the threat resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11.”
OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST
- FBI Continues to Investigate Wilkes-Barre City Government in Pennsylvania
- Border Patrol Busts 14 People Accused of Smuggling Bundles of Narcotics
- FBI Finally Captures Fugitive Who Was on Run for 25 Years
- FBI Concerned About Possible Russian Spies Eying U.S. Tech Sector
- FBI Warns of Disaster Fraud Following Recent Wildfires
Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, the son-in-law of Usama bin Laden, and a senior member of al Qaeda, was convicted Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan on three counts, including conspiracy to kill Americans.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released the following statement: “This verdict is a major milestone in the government’s unrelenting efforts to pursue justice against those involved with the September 11 attacks. I can imagine no more fitting outcome, and no stronger message to those who would harm our nation and its people: that no amount of distance or time can weaken America’s resolve to pursue, capture, and hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
“I want to especially note that this verdict has proven that proceedings such as these can safely occur in the city I am proud to call home, as in other locations across our great nation. It was appropriate that this defendant, who publicly rejoiced over the attacks on the World Trade Center, faced trial in the shadow of where those buildings once stood.
“We never doubted the ability of our Article III court system to administer justice swiftly in this case, as it has in hundreds of other cases involving terrorism defendants. It would be a good thing for the country if this case has the result of putting that political debate to rest. This outcome vindicates the government’s approach to securing convictions against not only this particular defendant, but also other senior leaders of al Qaeda.
Our country is currently in a struggle between the need to protect our citizens from terrorism and the need to protect the civil liberties of our citizens. How can we do both while not sacrificing either?
During my five years as chairman of the National Commission on Homeland Security, we analyzed and debated issues of national security and presented our finding to the president and Congress, which became the framework for the Department of Homeland Security.
America must never make the mistake of sacrificing liberty for security. However, an equally severe mistake would be to give up the ability to track the enemy because of a fear of government. This duality of purpose demands oversight, not dismantling.
While our security focus has been primarily on non-state entities such as al Qaeda, the past several weeks in Ukraine have been a sobering reminder of the threat we face from state actors as well. The easiest way for such entities to circumvent our security is by revealing the tools we use in order to protect our country.
A perfect example of this are the crimes committed by Edward Snowden. Some would argue he is a patriot. I can tell you those people are dead wrong. Mr. Snowden swore an oath to protect his country and, in turn, was given the trust of America.
Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said it best: “Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower worthy of protection, but a fugitive deserving of prosecution. He violated his sworn pledge to protect classified information. He jeopardized our national security. And he betrayed the trust of the American people. This man is no hero.”
Mr. Snowden’s traitorous act is a perfect example of the dual threat we face from state and non-state actors. His actions helped al Qaeda by revealing a program used to track terrorists, while at the same time giving the world’s largest bully a propaganda tool used to legitimize its actions.
Click here to read more.
The FBI had direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and learned that he was trying to finance terrorist attacks inside the U.S., according to the Washington Times.
The information about the al Qaeda leader quietly emerged from an employment dispute case involving an FBI agent in 2010 and escaped the attention of the media.
“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in a case by former agent Bassem Youssef.
Members of the Sept. 11 commission and experts in terrorism expressed surprise when told of the discovery.
“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 through 2007 when lawmakers handled the fallout from the 9/11 Commission’s official report.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has been swamped cracking down on dangers from extremists.
This year was no exception.
Here is some of the FBI’s top terror cases of 2013:
Airport bomb plot: A 58-year-old man was charged earlier this month with attempting to explode a car bomb at a Kansas airport as an act of jihad against the U.S. He was arrested as a result of an undercover investigation. The device provided to him by our operatives was inert and posed no danger to the public.
Attempt to join al Qaeda: A New York man was arrested in October for attempting to join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and conspiring to commit murder overseas. The 25-year-old allegedly conspired with others to travel overseas to wage violent jihad against the perceived enemies of Islam, which included the secular government in Yemen.
Material support to terrorists: Two individuals—one an American citizen—were indicted in August for conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda groups and al Shabaab. The men were charged with attempting to provide money and recruits to three different terror organizations.
Sovereign citizen scheme: In July, the self-proclaimed president of a sovereign citizen group in Alabama was sentenced to 18 years in prison for promoting a tax fraud scheme that taught people how to defraud the IRS. He and other sovereign citizens also sent demands to all 50 U.S. governors in 2010 ordering each to resign within three days—to be replaced by a “sovereign” leader or be “removed.”
Attempt to wage jihad: A Florida man was indicted in July for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The 19-year-old tried to travel to the Arabian Peninsula to join and fight with a violent al Qaeda group that has taken responsibility for multiple attacks on Yemeni forces, including a suicide bombing in 2012 that killed more than 100 soldiers.
Former U.S. soldier indicted: A U.S. citizen who formerly served in the army was indicted in June for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The 30-year-old man allegedly wanted to fight alongside an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in Syria.
Far-fetched terror plan: Two New York men were charged in June with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Their scheme involved creating a remotely operated X-ray radiation-emitting device designed to kill people silently. Their targets were perceived enemies of Israel.
Tsarnaev charged: In April, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings. The attacks killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Suicide bombing: An Oregon resident was charged in March for his role in a 2009 suicide bombing. The man allegedly assisted an individual who participated in the attack at the headquarters of Pakistan’s intelligence service in Lahore that killed approximately 30 individuals and injured 300 others.
Bin Laden associate arrested: An associate of Osama bin Laden was arrested in March for conspiring to kill Americans. The individual held a key position in al Qaeda and appeared with bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks to threaten further attacks against the U.S.
It hasn’t been long since the FBI’s primary focus was putting away bank robbers, kidnappers and gang members.
That focus has dramatically shifted in the post-9/11 era, creating a new generation of counterterrorism experts who know the ins and outs of al Qaeda and Hezbollah, Newsweek reports.
Most of the counterterrorism experts are in their mid- to late-40s – a relatively young age for agents with their responsibilities.
“The last generation was more reactive,” an intelligence expert said, “and the current guys are extremely proactive. I think they will initiate things just to find out if there’s something there, as opposed to waiting and seeing.”
Leading the group of experts is Andrew McCabe, head of the FBI’s National Security Branch. He’s 45 and rose to the top by acquiring in-depth knowledge of terrorism, Newsweek wrote.
A U.S. citizen claims in a lawsuit filed by the federal government that he was held for four months, endured harsh interrogation and was later released after it was discovered he had done nothing wrong, the Reason reports.
Amir Meshal is represented by he ACLU, which contends its client was unfairly mistreated.
The Justice Department said the case shouldn’t move forward because of national security concerns.
The ACLU, which is to appear in court today on the issue, wrote:
The American Civil Liberties Union will appear in court on Wednesday on behalf of a U.S. citizen who was illegally detained and mistreated by American officials in three east African countries in 2007. After fleeing unrest in Somalia, New Jersey resident Amir Meshal was arrested, secretly imprisoned in inhumane conditions, and harshly interrogated by FBI agents over 30 times before ultimately being released without charge four months later. …
In December 2006, Meshal was studying in Mogadishu when civil unrest broke out. He fled to neighboring Kenya, where he wandered in the forest for three weeks seeking shelter and assistance before being arrested. He was then repeatedly interrogated by FBI agents, who accused him of receiving training from al Qaeda, which Meshal denied. The American interrogators threatened him with torture and kept him from contacting a lawyer or his family.
Meshal was subsequently rendered to Somalia and then Ethiopia, where he was secretly imprisoned in filthy conditions with inadequate access to food, water, and toilets for more than three months, and again harshly interrogated by U.S. officials, who bore responsibility for his rendition and continued detention.