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Archive for February, 2017

FBI Uses Terrorism Task Force to Investigate Standing Rock Activists

Dakota Access Pipeline protest in support of Standing Rock.

Dakota Access Pipeline protest in support of Standing Rock.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating activists who are standing up against the Dakota Access pipeline, even diverting terrorism experts to focus on protesters and environmentalists.

The Guardian reports that members of the FBI’s joint terrorism task force have tried to contact at least three people involved in protecting Standing Rock in North Dakota by knocking on their doors. 

The FBI declined to comment, and the focus and scope of the task force remain unknown.

“The idea that the government would attempt to construe this indigenous-led non-violent movement into some kind of domestic terrorism investigation is unfathomable to me,” said Lauren Regan, a civil rights attorney who has provided legal support to demonstrators who were contacted by representatives of the FBI. “It’s outrageous, it’s unwarranted … and it’s unconstitutional.”

The three individuals have declined to cooperate with the FBI and asserted their fifth amendment rights.

Federal Authorities Detain, Search Phone of NASA Scientist at Airport

nasaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sidd Bikkannavar, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and is a natural-born U.S. citizen, was detained while trying to reenter the United States just as the President Trump’s controversial immigration ban took effect.

But it didn’t stop there. He said Border Patrol agents confiscated his NASA-issued phone, which could include sensitive information, Gizmodo reports. 

Bikkannavar posted about the incident on Facebook:

Sorry for the absence. On my way home to the US last weekend, I was detained by Homeland Security and held with others who were stranded under the Muslim ban. CBP officers seized my phone and wouldn’t release me until I gave my access PIN for them to copy the data. I initially refused, since it’s a JPL-issued phone (Jet Propulsion Lab property) and I must protect access. Just to be clear – I’m a US-born citizen and NASA engineer, traveling with a valid US passport. Once they took both my phone and the access PIN, they returned me to the holding area with the cots and other sleeping detainees until they finished copying my data.

I’m back home, and JPL has been running forensics on the phone to determine what CBP/Homeland Security might have taken, or whether they installed anything on the device. I’ve also been working with JPL legal counsel. I removed my Facebook page until I was sure this account wasn’t also compromised by the intrusion into my phone and connected apps. I hope no one was worried. JPL issued me a new phone and new phone number, which I’ll give out soon.

Bikkannavar had landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, on Jan. 30, when he was detained and told that the Border Patrol was going to search his phone.

Bikkannavar told authorities that he was no allowed to hand over his phone because he’s required to protect it.

FBI Launches New Cell Phone App to Help Identify Fugitives, Missing People

FBI cell phone app, via FBI.

FBI cell phone app, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has launched a new cell phone app, called FBI Wanted, that allows the public to view and search for fugitives, missing people and crime suspects, Homeland Preparedness News reports.

“Since the earliest days of the Bureau, when wanted flyers were tacked to post office walls, the public has played a vital role in helping the FBI and its partners locate criminals on the run and solving cases of all kinds,” Christopher Allen, FBI’s head of Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit, said. “This app is designed to put another digital tool in the hands of concerned citizens so they can help protect their families and communities.”

The public also may use the app to report suspicious activity.

“Thousands of cases have been solved over the years thanks to the watchful eyes of concerned citizens, and that has made the country a safer place for all of us,” Allen said. “The FBI Wanted app will help carry on this tradition of partnership. We encourage everyone to download it and report any pertinent tips to the FBI.”

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Saturday Night Massacre

Records: Undercover FBI Agent Drove By 2 Men Who Opened Fire Outside Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Elton Simpson opened fire in Garland, Texas.

Elton Simpson opened fire in Garland, Texas.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just before two Arizona men opened fire outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in suburban Dallas in 2015, an undercover FBI drove past the shooters while investigating terrorism, according to new court records.

The records were obtained by the Associated Press in the criminal case against Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for providing support to ISIS.

Kareem is accused of providing guns used in the attack and helping Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi figure out how to use the weapons, while also watching violent jihadist videos with the men.

According to the court records, the unidentified agent also conversed with one of the shooters on social media just days before the attack, which left the shooters dead and a security guard wounded.

“We are convinced that there is much more to this story than the FBI has admitted ,” said Trenton Roberts, an attorney for security guard Bruce Joiner.

Georgia Man Who Possessed Ricin Has Ties to White Supremacist Group

William Gibbs

William Gibbs

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Georgia man under investigation after he was exposed to the deadly poison ricin has ties to a white supremacist group Creativity Movement, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports

The FBI is trying to determine how William Christopher Gibbs, 27, was exposed to ricin.

Gibbs was arrested on charges of reckless conduct and a probation violation after arriving at the local hospital late last week.

About 100 police and hazardous materials experts searched Gibbs’ car and home for traces of ricin in Fannin County.

“I think it was all contained inside his vehicle, just a small amount of something I think he had been experimenting with,” Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby told an Atlanta television station. 

According to sheriff’s deputies, Gibbs’ mother said he has a mental illness.

The FBI has declined to comment, other than to confirm agents are investigating Gibbs’ background and how he acquired ricin.

The Creativity Movement is a white supremacy sect that says “race is our religion” and that the “white race is nature’s finest.”

FBI Investigating Michael Flynn Over Meeting with Russian Ambassador

National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump and his inner circle have repeatedly denied that his team had contact with Russian officials immediately after the presidential election.

Turns out, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn communicated with a Russian ambassador to the U.S. in the month before Trump was sworn in as president.

The FBI is investigating whether Flynn, a retired general, played a role in U.S. foreign policy by communicating with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, the Washington Examiner reports.

Flynn may have violated law if he undermined President Obama’s actions by promising a different outcome for the Russians.

Democrats were incensed.

“If this new report is true, we need to ask not only whether General Flynn should be leading our national security efforts, but whether he should even hold a security clearance,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said.

Report: Estimated Cost & Timeline of Trump’s Wall Skyrockets

Border Fence along Mexico and the U.S.

Border Fence along Mexico and the U.S.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The cost of President Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border has soared to an estimated $21.6 billion, according to an internal report by Homeland Security.

The wall also would take 3.5 years to complete, Reuters reports. 

Trump has estimated that the wall would cost $12 billion.

More than 1,200 miles of walls would need to be erected to secure the border.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying it would be “premature” because it has not been officials given to the president.

What remains unclear is how Trump will pay for the wall. He wants Congress to approve the expenditure, which he maintains will be reimbursed by Mexico. Mexican officials said they won’t pay for the wall.

Other Stories of Interest