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October 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter


Fugitive Thinks Ex-FBI Agent Who Vanished in Iran is Dead

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel

Is former FBI agent Robert Levinson who vanished in Iran three years ago, dead?

An American-born Muslim convert Hassan Abdulraham, who is wanted for the 1980 murder of a former Iranian diplomat in Maryland, says most likely Yes, Fox News reports.

Abdulraham, who was editor of Iran’s state run Press TV at the time of the dispearance, and lives in an Islamic nation overseas, may have been the last to meet with Levinson at the time, Fox reported.

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Column: NYPD “Cowboy Behavior” Screws FBI in Terrorism Case

Len Levitt wrote the police column “One Police Plaza” for Newsday for 10 years and has worked for several other publications including Time magazine. His website is

len levittBy Len Levitt

There is more cause for concern about the NYPD’s Lone Cowboy behavior the more we learn about the department’s dealings with the Queens imam who jeopardized the investigation into the most serious threat to national security since 9/11.

It now appears that the NYPD spoke with Imam Ahmad Wais Afzali not once, as has been reported, but at least three times, urging him to spy on suspects in a plot to blow up New York City subways.

And the police apparently did this without informing their own partners in the terrorism investigation — the FBI.

The result: Instead of helping the investigation, the NYPD’s meddling led the imam to warn ringleader Najibullah Zazi that authorities were on to him, short-circuiting the crucial evidence-gathering surveillance and forcing the FBI to make arrests prematurely.

To read full column click here.


FBI Has Doubled Number of Agents Assigned to Counterterrorism since 2001; Numbers Down for Criminal Matters

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — In what really comes as no surprise, the FBI has doubled the number of agents assigned to counterterrorism since 2001.

Jeff Stein of Spy Talk, a blog for the Washington Post, reports that Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reported in fiscal 2009 “the FBI used 26 percent of its field agents to address counterterrorism matters, while using 51 percent to address criminal matters.”

“This is a significant change from FY 2001 when the FBI used 13 percent of its field agents on counterterrorism matters and 72 percent on criminal matters,” Fine said, according to Stein.

The report goes on to say that “we found that the FBI generally issued field agents in line with its allocation for its highest national priorities in FY 2009, including counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber crime, and civil rights. However, the FBI continued to use fewer field agents than allocated to address its lowest national priorities, including criminal enterprises, white collar crime and violent crime.”

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Fear of Pro-Gun Lobby Groups in Election Year Leaves ATF Without Senate-Confirmed Leader

Kenneth Melson/fbi photo

Kenneth Melson

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — There have been times when ATF has felt like the stepchild in the world of law enforcement — particularly when compared to the FBI.

This may be one of those times.

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that 15 months after President Obama has taken office, the White House has yet to appoint someone to head ATF.

ATF agents have been saying all along that the White House doesn’t want to deal with appointment before the upcoming elections, fearing it would dredge up some hot button issues like gun control and rally the powerful pro-gun lobby against anti-gun candidates.

James Cavanaugh/ photo

James Cavanaugh

Consequently, the acting director, Kenneth Melson, was recently demoted to deputy director. A law limits how long acting chiefs can head up federal agencies, Newsweek reports.

“It’s shocking and indefensible,” says Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group, “that when you have a huge problem from gun trafficking and gun violence, they have left this agency leaderless.”

“The message that’s sent to the employees is, ‘You don’t matter,'” Jim Cavanaugh, a 33-year bureau veteran who retired this month as the agent in charge of the Nashville office told Newsweek.

To read more of Newsweek report click here.

New D.C. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen Comfortable in the Streets

D.C.’s new U.S. Attorney Ron Machen says he’s comfortable on the streets and in any environment. That may help a guy who heads up a U.S. Attorney’s Office that not only handles federal cases but local crimes as well.

Ron Machen Jr./doj photo

Ron Machen Jr./doj photo

By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Then-U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder sat on the sofa of his fifth-floor office 13 years ago and listened to the young lawyer tell him what needed to change: Prosecutors spent too much time in their offices and the courthouse, and not enough time in the community.

Ronald C. Machen told his future boss in a job interview that they needed to have a regular presence throughout the District by attending community forums, meetings in church basements, youth summits and the like. Waiting until a crime is committed, Holder recalled Machen telling him, was too late to develop relationships.

“He had such fully formed ideas,” said Holder, now the country’s attorney general. “He knew that it wasn’t enough to just show up at a crime scene, but to be there to explain what the office was about in non-stressful times. He had a vision then, and now his time has come.”

To read full story click here.


Column: 15 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

This column was reprinted from a year ago.
Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community, flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks, was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

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Do the Troops Trust Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis — Chicago’s Police Chief?

Chief Johy Weis/police photo

Chief Jody Weis/police photo

It’s not easy being an outsider in a police department with a rich tradition of people rising through the ranks. It also doesn’t help to have come from the FBI. Have the troops accepted ex-FBI agent Jody Weis as Chicago’s Police chief?  He says yes, but tells the Chicago News Cooperative:”There will be a certain percentage who will never embrace me because of where I came from.”

Chicago News Cooperative

CHICAGO –The next few months of warmer weather will be crucial for Jody Weis, whose job running the police department is as close as it gets to “Mission Impossible” in Chicago.

Ever since he took over the department in early 2008, Superintendent Weis’s assignment has been to calm police officers who are angry at many things, including working without a contract since 2007 and a federal misconduct prosecution that put a Chicago policeman in prison with a 40-month term.

Morale problems facing the chief will not be helped by a federal arbitrator’s recommendation Friday that the police get a 10 percent raise over five years, far less than the 16 percent Mayor Richard M. Daley offered during contract talks in 2008.

In an interview in early April, Mr. Weis acknowledged that he had a rocky start as the second outsider ever to run the Chicago force. But he said that his relations with officers suspicious of his background as a former F.B.I. agent had reached a “turning point” and that he had presided over a reduction in crime.

To read full story click here.

Mayor Bloomberg Urges Atty. Gen. Holder To Decide Soon on Venue for 9/11 Trial

Mayor Bloomberg/city photo

Mayor Bloomberg/city photo

By Allan Lengel

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — better known in the N.Y. tabloids as “Bloomy” — wants Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. to make up his mind already about where he’ll try five 9/11 suspects including the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the New York Post reports.

Quoting a response to a caller on his weekly radio show on WOR, Bloomberg said:

“I’ve given them my opinion. They can do what they want. I do think they should do it in the sense of making a decision one way or another. I hope the decision is to have the trials elsewhere.”

Holder this week told the Senate Judiciary Committee that no final decision on the matter had been made, and expressed opposition to any move to mandate that suspected terrorists be prosecuted in military trials only.

Bloomberg had come out against a New York trial,  echoing sentiments of many New Yorkers and Republicans on Capitol Hill.