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FBI

LA FBI Offers $100,000 Reward for “20 Questions Bandits”

fbi photo

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI in Los Angeles is offering a bigger than normal reward — $100,000 — for information leading to the arrest of a violent group of bank robbers dubbed the “20 Questions Bandits”.

The FBI said Wednesday that agents and police detectives from Ventura, Orange and Los Angeles counties have been on a hunt for the robbers who are believed responsible for 11 “takeover” robberies. Authorities said the group consists of at least four men and got the name “20 Questions Bandits” because of the multiple questions they asked while inside the banks.

Authorities say the men have assaulted bank employees and robbed individuals during the heists that date back to March 3, 2009.

The FBI said the men during the robberies have been ” extremely violent and, in some cases, displayed weapons.”

Meanwhile, just south of Los Angeles in Sand Diego County, authorities have been stumped by the “Geezer Bandit”, who last week hit his eighth bank.  The bandit, who appears to be in his 70s, has been robbing banks since August 2009. His reward is only up to $16,000.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

NYPD Tries to Distance Itself From FBI Surveillance Lapse in Bombing Case

nypd badgeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The talk among law enforcement on Wednesday was that the New York police were trying to distance themselves and blame the FBI for losing the surveillance of  car bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad.

The media was also pointing to it as a flaw in what still remains a remarkable case for the short time it took to arrest the suspect.

Still,  some current and former law enforcement members pointed out that it is not uncommon to lose a surveillance target. And they said it was often better to lose someone temporarily than to blow the surveillance and get spotted.

Newsweek reported that Shahzad was at JFK airport on Monday for more than three hours without FBI surveillance, and that agents had apparently lost track of him. Shahzad had gone to the airport to catch a flight to Dubai. He was arrested after he had already boarded the plane, but it had not yet taken off.

One law enforcement source on Wednesday defended the FBI’s work.

“This situation was extremely fast-moving, involving multiple locations. The FBI identified him and within a few hours had already located him and begun surveillance, which, by its nature, involves risk-benefit considerations with respect to potential effects on the course of the investigation if the surveillance is detected,” the source said, commenting on the condition that he not be named.

“Risks can be mitigated by building in layers of redundancy, especially in a situation such as this where the subject was aware of the numerous media reports which alerted him to the fact he was being pursued by law enforcement. In this case, he was added to appropriate watch lists and was caught as he tried to escape.”

White House Begins Search For New FBI Director to Replace Mueller

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The White House has started interviewing candidates to succeed the stoic FBI Robert S. Mueller III, who is set to step down next year, the website Main Justice reported.

The website reported that it was uncertain who was being considered but it mentioned possible candidates: Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol; Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General; New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and ex-LA police chief William Bratton.

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

Mueller, 65, a former U.S. Attorney, took over the FBI Sept. 4, 2001, just before the Sept. 11 attacks that forced the agency to reorganize and commit far more resources to counterterrorism.

FBI Surveillance of NY Bomb Suspect Broke Down

jfk airport

jfk airport

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI surveillance of the Times Square car bomber broke down, allowing the suspect to spend more than three hours at JFK airport unwatched Monday while he waited to board a plane to Dubai, with the ultimate destination being Pakistan, Newsweek is reporting.

Newsweek reported that Faisal Shahzad arrived at JFK at at 7:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, authorities placed Shahzad on the “no fly list”. But Newsweek reported that because the name did not quickly appear on the reservation computer lists, he was able to board the plane.

Authorities said Tuesday that Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Bureau officers caught the oversight and the plane was called back to the gate before it could take off.

To Read More click here.

Justice to Add 33 New Prosecutors in Indian Country

justice logo2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department will allocate 33 new assistant U.S. Attorneys to address crime in Indian Country in 21 judicial districts across the nation.

Additionally, the Justice Department has launched three Indian Country Prosecution Teams that will work closely with the Indian community.

“Violent crimes, and particularly crimes against women and girls, continue to devastate tribal communities across the country, and the U.S. Attorney community is crucial to the Department of Justice’s response,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said.

“With 33 more federal prosecutors headed to Indian Country, and the launch of three new Community Prosecution Pilot Projects, we have made significant progress finding and implementing solutions to the public safety challenges confronting tribal communities. This Administration is committed to reducing the level of violent crime in tribal communities.”

Each of the community prosecution pilot projects will have one prosecutor and one victim-witness position. The projects will be implemented in the Navajo nation in New Mexico; the Oglala Sioux Tribe on Pine Ridge Reservation; and the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

NY Bomb Suspect Confesses Role and Gives Investigators “Useful Information”

Atty. Gen Eric Holder at podium/doj photo

Atty. Gen Eric Holder at podium/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad admitted after his arrest Monday night that he brought the Nissan Pathfinder to Times Square on Saturday and tried to detonate it,  according to an FBI affivadit unsealed Tuesday afternoon.

The affidavit, part of criminal complaint, also stated that Shahzad admitted getting bomb training in Waziristan, Pakistan. That region of Paskistan is flush with Taliban and al Qaeda.

The affidavit also stated that he received phone calls from Pakistan around the time he was buying the car that was to be used in the bombing, and that his landlord saw bags of fertilizer in his garage. Fertilizer was found in the car with the explosive materials.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told reporters Tuesday at a press conference in Washington  that  Shahzad, a Pakistani-born and naturalized U.S. citizen living in Connecticut, was being cooperative and continued to provide useful information even after he was Mirandized.

diagram of car bomb

diagram of car bomb

“As a result of those communications, Shahzad has provided useful information to authorities. We anticipate charging him with an act of terrorism transcending national borders, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of a destructive device during the commission of another crime, as well as assorted explosives charges.”

Holder declined to comment on reports that Shahzad said he acted alone or on one of the possible theories that the attempted bombing was a response to Comedy Central’s South Park cartoon show that mocked the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

“Well, as I said, the investigation is ongoing, and we — our aim is to determine who is — exactly was involved in this matter, to bring all those people who are involved to justice,” Holder said.

N.Y. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who attended the press conference,  noted with pride how quick the arrest was made.

“Fifty-three hours and 20 minutes elapsed from the time Faisal Shahzad crossed Broadway in his pathfinder to the time he was apprehended at Kennedy Airport,” he said. “Jack Bauer may have caught him in “24.” But in the real world, 53’s not bad.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Pakistani authorities have made several arrests after Shahzad was arrested in New York. But authorities said Wednesday that the arrest were unrelated to the New York case.

Security Lapse Let Suspect Board Plane (New York Times)

Feds Charge S.C. Sheriff With Cocaine Trafficking: Allege He Also Tipped Off Drug Dealers

s.c. mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities say a South Carolina sheriff stepped way way over the line.

The feds alleged in a criminal complaint that Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin not only dealt drugs from his police SUV, but tipped off or extorted money from a list of drug dealers provided by federal and state law enforcement authorities, the Associated Press reported.

The FBI tapped Melvin’s phone and at one point caught him saying he planned to seize some cocaine during a traffic stop, take some for himself and use the rest as evidence, AP said, citing an FBI affidavit.

Melvin was arrested on drug trafficking charges  Saturday, and he resigned after that, AP reported. Six others along with Melvin have been charged with cocaine trafficking.

Read FBI Affidavit

Investigators Looking For Ties Overseas in NY Car Bomb Case

Bye Bye New York?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

After making an arrest late Monday night in the New York car bomb case, the FBI continued to investigate whether other people or an organization, possibly overseas, were involved.

“The investigation remains very much ongoing, and the dedicated agents, detectives, and prosecutors on this case will continue to follow every lead and use every tool to keep the people of New York City safe,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, FBI’s George Venizelos and New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelley said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.

Around 11:45 p.m. Monday, FBI agents and New York police detectives arrested Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan who lived in Connecticut, for allegedly driving a car bomb into New York’s Times Square on Saturday.

The Justice Department said the suspect was arrested at JFK Airport after he was identified by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection while attempting to take a flight to Dubai.

He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Manhattan later Tuesday.

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a press conference: “It’s clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.  “We will not rest until we bring everyone responsible to justice.”

Read NY Times Story

Read Washington Post Story

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