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Archive for March, 2020

FBI Says Man Killed in Shootout Planned to Blow Up Hospital During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Missouri man was killed during a shootout with the FBI on Tuesday after authorities say he planned blow up a hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of an FBI joint terrorism task force attempted to arrest Timothy Wilson, 36, when the shootout occurred.

“Wilson was the subject of a months-long domestic terrorism investigation, which revealed him to be a potentially violent extremist, motivated by racial, religious, and anti-government animus,” the FBI said in statement.

The bureau said Wilson was considering a variety of targets before he “settled on an area hospital … that is providing critical medical care in today’s environment.”

“With the current health crisis, Wilson decided to accelerate his plan to use a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in an attempt to cause severe harm and mass casualties,” the FBI said.

The bureau added that Wilson had taken “the necessary steps to acquire materials needed to build an explosive device.”

Wilson was trying to pick up what he believed was an explosive device when agents attempted to arrest him.

Family of Ex-FBI Agent Robert Levinson Gives Up Hope He’s Still Alive

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After years of urging the Iranian government to release Robert Levinson, the family of the retired FBI agent who vanished in Iran in 2007, has given up hope that he’s still alive.

“Today, with aching hearts, we are sharing devastating news about Robert Levinson, the head of our family,” the family said in a statement on a website dedicated to freeing Levinson. “We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody.  We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is impossible to describe our pain. Our family will spend the rest of our lives without the most amazing man we have ever known, a new reality that is inconceivable to us.  His grandchildren will never meet him. They will only know him through the stories we tell them.”

Previously, media outlets had reported that Levinson, who had retired from the FBI, had gone to Iran on an unauthorized mission for the CIA.

For a long time, the FBI had not given up hope of freeing Levinson, and the family up until now, held out hope as well.

“If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today,” the family wrote. “It has been 13 years waiting for answers.  Thirteen years since we last saw him or had any contact with him. How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands.”

 Brian O’Hare, president of the FBI Agents Association issued a statement Wednesday:

“The FBI Agents Association, representing more than 14,000 active and former FBI Special Agents, sends its deepest sympathies to the family of former FBI Agent Robert Levinson.  The courage that the Levinson family showed over the past 13 years in their continued efforts to raise awareness about Bob’s disappearance and to bring him home has been an inspiration to all, including his former colleagues at the FBI.

We will not forget Bob and will support all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this horrific crime.  We continue to stand with the Levinson family during this difficult time.”

National Security Investigative Producer  James Meek of ABC News, who reported on the latest development,  posted on Facebook:

“I’m sorry to say I have covered this case for 13 years. Today, it came to an end as retired FBI agent Bob Levinson’s family announced they now believe he died sometime ago as a hostage in Iran. They were told in a recent government briefing, and after years and years of fighting to bring him home, testifying in Congress, confronting Tehran’s diplomats at the United Nations, and never giving up on him, they have grudgingly accepted his fate. A very sad day.”

 

Homeland Security Warns of Extremists Attacking U.S. During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials nationwide that violent extremists may carry out attacks against the U.S. in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency sent law enforcement officials the intelligence bulletin, compiled by the Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The memo was obtained by ABC.

“Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months,” the intelligence bulletin states.

So far, the department said it has “no information indicating any active plotting is underway.”

But the agency said foreign and domestic extremist groups are trying to spread misinformation about the pandemic.

FBI Director Chris Wray, in a video message, said the bureau is increasing its monitoring of potential threats against the U.S.

“With all the worry and uncertainty out there, we want the public to know that there are still things they can count on: We’re here, and we’re going to stay here, to protect them, no matter what,” Wray said. “Because our criminal and national security adversaries sure aren’t going to take a day off – whether that’s for the coronavirus or, for that matter, anything else.”

Earlier this month, the FBI alerted local police that some white supremacist groups are encouraging members to weaponize the coronavirus by spreading it to cops and Jews. These extremists are directing their followers who get infected with coronavirus to spread it by employing methods that include using spray bottles with their bodily fluids, according to the alert.

3 Dozen TSA Employees Tested Positive for Coronavirus in 12 States

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA employees who have tested positive for coronavirus has soared to 36 since the outbreak began two weeks ago.

Of those, 28 are TSA screening officers who have close interactions with the public. Another eight non-screening employees with limited interactions with the public have tested positive.

The positive cases are spread across 12 states: Washington, Nevada, California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, New York and New Jersey.

Hundreds of TSA screeners and other employees also are quarantined because they either had contact with coworkers who tested positive or because they are showing symptoms.

At some airports, multiple TSA screeners have tested positive. There are six cases involving workers at John F. Kennedy International Airpot in New York and four at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

Three TSA screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in California were the first agency employees to test positive for coronavirus on March 10.

For details of each positive case, click here.

 

Via TSA

 

Secret Service Employee Tests Positive for Coronavirus

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Secret Service employee has tested for coronavirus, the first reported case by the agency.

The employee has been quarantined, and the Secret Service “will continue to monitor the employee’s condition,” the agency said in a statement.

The employee’s identity was not disclosed.

The Secret Service said the employee did not have contact with co-workers for nearly three weeks.

The coronavirus has hit TSA agents hard. There are now 25 TSA screeners who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the agency.

Rainer S. Drolshagen Named Special Agent in Charge of Minneapolis Field Office

Rainer Drolshagen, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Rainer S. Drolshagen has been named special agent in charge of the Minneapolis Field Office.

Drolshagen, who recently served as a deputy assistant director in the Directorate of Intelligence at FBI headquarters, joined the bureau as a special agent in 1997. His first assignment was with the Johnson City Resident Agency under the Knoxville Field Office in Tennessee, where he investigated criminal and national security cases.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Drolshagen led an evidence team investigating the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

In 2006, Drolshagen became supervisory special agent in the Military Liaison and Detainee Unit in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. A year later, he was named the FBI’s representative to U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.

In 2009, Drolshagen landed at the Dallas Field Office, serving as the supervisor of the Safe Streets Task Force. He later created and led the Southwest Border Task Force to combat violent crime and money-laundering.

In 2014, Drolshagen was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Charlotte Field Office in North Carolina, where he oversaw the office’s intelligence program, administrative matters, and SWAT team. In 2016, he became chief of staff to the associate deputy director at headquarters.

In 2017, Drolshagen became the deputy assistant director of the Operational Programs Branch of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

In 2018, he began serving as deputy assistant director of the Intelligence Operations Branch in the Directorate of Intelligence, overseeing program management of the FBI’s human intelligence operations, intelligence-related information technology, threat review and prioritization, and the integration of intelligence across the FBI and U.S. intelligence community.

Before joining the FBI, Drolshagen served in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm. Drolshagen earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Clemson University.

The Department of Defense awarded Drolshagen the Superior Civilian Service Award in 2004 and 2009.

23 TSA Workers Tested Positive for Coronavirus in Airports in Seven States

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA screeners infected with coronavirus reached at least 23 in seven states.

The TSA said the positive cases involve airports in New York, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, California, and the Virgin Islands.

Many more TSA screeners are under quarantine.

At some airports, multiple TSA screeners have tested positive. There are five cases involving workers at John F. Kennedy International Airpot in New York and four at Orlando International Airport in Florida.

Three TSA screeners at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in California were the first agency employees to test positive for coronavirus on March 10.

FBI Warns That Some White Supremacists Want to Weaponize Coronavirus Against Cops, Jews

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Some white supremacist groups are encouraging members to weaponize the coronavirus by spreading it to cops and Jews, the FBI has alerted local police.

These extremists are directing their followers who get infected with coronavirus to spread it by employing methods that include using spray bottles with their bodily fluids, according to the alert obtained by ABC News.

“Members of extremist groups are encouraging one another to spread the virus, if contracted, through bodily fluids and personal interactions,” according to the alert from the FBI’s New York office.

The FBI said white supremacists groups are asking members to spread the virus to Jews by going “any place they may be congregated, to include markets, political offices, businesses and places of worship.”

“Anti-government folks in America love to target law enforcement as a symbol of America’s authority,” Don Mihalek, the executive vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, tells ABC Newss. “It’s just sad that that’s their focus at a time of crisis in the nation.”

Some white supremacists groups have been blaming Jews for the coronavirus outbreak and the stay-at-home orders that are forcing nonessential businesses to shut down.

“From pushing the idea that Jews created the coronavirus virus to sell vaccines to encouraging infected followers to try to spread the illness to the Jewish community and law enforcement, as the coronavirus has spread, we have observed how white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and others have used this to drive their own conspiracy theories, spread disinformation and incite violence on their online platforms,” said Michael Masters, the head of Secure Communities Network, a group that coordinates security for Jewish organizations and synagogues nationwide.

“While the world faces a deadly pandemic, it’s a stark reminder that certain groups – notably the Jewish community and law enforcement – must also continue the battle against those who wish to hurt or kill them,” Masters continued. “As the economic situation remains fragile and civil society disrupted, the potential for the followers of hate to act becomes more likely … and more deadly.”