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October 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

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Column: Norway Gunman Has a Lot in Common With OK Bomber Tim McVeigh

Andrew Gumbel, a Los Angeles-based journalist, is writing a book about the Oklahoma City bombing, due out from William Morrow next April.

By Andrew Gumbel
Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Page

America’s violent far right would have no difficulty recognizing the tell-tale signatures of Friday’s killing spree in Norway — and not just because they would see the confessed perpetrator, Anders Behring Breivik, as an ideological soul mate who, like their own heroes, thought he could trigger a white-supremacist revolution with bombs and bullets.

Breivik appears to have been more than simply inspired by American predecessors such as Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber: The materials he used, the way he planned and carried out his attacks, and his own writings all suggest he was deeply familiar with the actions of some notorious political killers on this side of the Atlantic.

Breivik possessed a Glock semiautomatic, the same weapon McVeigh was carrying when he was arrested by a hawk-eyed Highway Patrol officer 90 minutes after the April 1995 bombing in Oklahoma. Breivik also possessed a .223-caliber Ruger assault rifle, just like McVeigh.

To read the full column click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Finds Islamic Educational Material for New FBI Recruits Offensive

By Allan Lengel

As recently as 2009, the FBI was presenting materials about Islam to new recruits  that former agent Mike German thought was a little shocking and might lead to abuse, according to the website Talking Points Memo.

“Certainly I was concerned with the approach the FBI was taking post-9/11, which is why I’m no longer with the FBI,” German, who is now with the ACLU,  told TPM. “I am shocked to see that this type of training material was produced in 2009.”

“The FBI is made up of human beings, and human beings make mistakes, but one would have thought by 2009 they would have understood this issue a little more clearly and realized how offensive that material would be read,” German said.

The website reported: “The FBI was telling new bureau recruits as recently as Jan. 2009 that Islam “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th Century Arabian ways” and recommending a book written by one of Norwegian terrorism suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s favorite authors as well as the Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Islam.”

TPM reported that some of the books included on a “Recommended Reading” slide are The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam and The Truth About Muhammad by anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, “who was cited 64 times by the Norwegian bombing suspect Breivik in his manifesto.”

The story was first reported by Spencer Ackerman in WIRED’s Danger Room.

The information was included in a 62-page slideshow produced by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit, and obtained by the ACLU and the Asian Law Caucus via the Freedom of Information Act request filed last year, TPM reported.

The FBI, in a statement told WIRED, that the bureau’s presentation “was a rudimentary version used for a limited time that has since been replaced.” It said the Robert Spencer’s book was no longer on the recommended reading list.

“We encourage our agents to seek out a variety of viewpoints,” the FBI said. “That does not mean we endorse or adopt the view of any particular author,” the bureau’s statement continues. “Broad knowledge is essential for us to better understand and respond to the threats we face. Knowledge also helps us defeat ignorance and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities that we serve.”

Ex-Secret Service Agent and New Author Don Tucker Talks About Folks He Protected Like Pres. Reagan

EPA Agent Indicted for Allegedly Lying About Affair With FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel

A former special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in Dallas was indicted Wednesday in Louisiana for allegedly lying about having an affair with an FBI agent he was working with,  the Justice Department announced.

Keith Phillips, 61, of Kent, Tex. was charged with obstruction of justice and perjury stemming from his sworn testimony in a civil case currently pending in the Western District of Louisiana.

Authorities stated that Phillips and a female FBI agent from September 1996 to Dec. 14, 1999 investigated a criminal case that resulted in the indictment of Hubert Vidrine Jr. and several others.

The criminal charges against Vidrine were ultimately dismissed, and Vidrine turned around and filed a lawsuit against the federal government for malicious prosecution, authorities said.

Authorities said that during a deposition taken in  Vidrine’s civil suit,  agent  Phillips “allegedly falsely testified that he did not have an affair with the FBI special agent, when, in fact, he did. The indictment alleges that it was material to the civil lawsuit to determine any potential motives of the criminal investigators in investigating and prosecuting the charges against Vidrine, and that Phillips committed perjury when he testified falsely about the affair and obstructed justice when he provided this false testimony.”

The indictment also alleges that he then contacted the FBI agent and tried to convince her not to confess to the affair.

‪If convicted, Phillips faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the obstruction of justice count and five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the perjury count.‪ The case is being prosecuted by Marquest J. Meeks of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and was investigated by the EPA Office of Inspector General.


It’s Official: FBI Dir. Mueller Onboard for 2 More Years

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

It’s official.

The Senate by a 100-0 vote officially extended FBI Director Robert Mueller’s term Wednesday by two years, the Associated Press reported.

The vote — a sign of the confidence the Senate has in Mueller — came a day after President Obama signed legislation  that opened the way for Mueller to get the two year extension.  After signing the bill, the White House nominated Mueller, and the Senate voted to confirm him.

His 10-year term was to expire in August.

“With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, and a continued threat from al-Qaida, we find ourselves facing unique circumstances,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, a Democrat, according to AP. “We need leadership, stability and continuity at the FBI as the president makes necessary shifts to his national security team.”

Mueller is the first FBI director to serve the full 10-year term after J. Edgar Hoover died.

Masked Robbers Flash FBI Badges in Burbank, Calif. Home Invasion

Column: Ouch! Make ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious Mess Go Away

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel

OUCH! Make it stop.

It’s becoming all too painful to see the Congressional probe into ATF’s highly-flawed operation dubbed Fast and Furious.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley have been leading the charge into the investigation of the operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.  The two Republicans have been releasing one embarrassing fact after another over the past months.

ATF has looked bad. So has the Justice Department.  On Tuesday, it was all the more painful to watch the Issa’s  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Some ATF agents who testified, who were based in Mexico ,were apologetic and embarrassed about Fast and Furious. That was heartening and good to see.

But what wasn’t so fun to see was William Newell, the former head of the ATF Phoenix Division, who helped lede the Fast and Furious operation.  Newell may be a decent guy, but I’m told he lacked the experience needed to foresee that Operation Fast and Furious was going to be a disaster.

Newell came off like the consumate company man. He drove committee members up the wall when he consistently said ATF did not “walk guns”, when in fact ATF, under his leadership,  clearly did. As if that weren’t bad enough, he admitted that there were some flaws in the operation, but refused to come clean and say it simply stunk.

He just kept saying he should have conducted more “risk assessment” during the operation to better pinpoint problems. It sounded bad.

Interestingly, Newell has been holed up in Washington helping Congressional investigators and the Inspector General’s Office investigate the whole mess.  He’s been assigned to be the ATF attache in Mexico City. He has yet to go.

And if ATF and the White House have any smarts, they won’t send him to Mexico  as the attache.  The Mexican  government is still fuming over the operation that put more deadly guns into the hands of the out-of-control drug cartels. If they do, you can bet that Newell won’t be given a king’s welcome down there. In fact, who knows, the Mexican government could arrest him for his role in Fast and Furious.

In any event, let’s get the warts and all of this operation out in the open quickly. Let’s end this painful mess.

Make it go away.

Authorities Say DEA Cases Show Growing Link Between Drugs and Terrorism

Authorities in New York announce indictments/doj photo

By Allan Lengel

The DEA on Tuesday announced two narco-terrorism stings out of New York that authorities say shows the growing link between drugs and terrorism.

Authorities say the case involved Hizballah, the group based in Lebanon and the Taliban.

“Today’s indictments provide fresh evidence of what many of us have been saying for some time: that there is a growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, a nexus that increasingly poses a clear and present danger to our national security,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Combating this lethal threat requires a bold and proactive approach. And as crime increasingly goes global, and national security threats remain global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer.”

The first indictment alleged that  Siavosh Henareh, Bachar Wehbe, and Cetin Aksu conspired to provide support to Hizballah. In the Hizballah case, authorities say suspects were busted for agreeing to acquire $9.5 Million Worth of Surface-to-Air Missiles and weapons for Hizballah, the Lebanese-based organization.

The second indictment charged Taza Gul Alizai (“Gul”) for narco-terrorism conspiracy, narco-terrorism, and heroin importation for allegedly supplying of 15 kilograms of heroin and six AK-47 assault rifles to a DEA confidential source  he believed  believed represented the Taliban.

Henareh and Aksu were arrested Monday in Bucharest, Romania, where they were detained pending extradition to the United States, authorities said .Wehbe and Gul were arrested Monday  in the Republic of the Maldives, and arrived in the Southern District of New York earlier Tuesday.

In the Hizballah case, authorities alleged that beginning in June 2010, Henareh had a series of meetings in countries including Turkey, Romania, and Greece with DEA confidential sources — at least one of whom represented themselves as representatives of Hizballah.

Authorities say  Henareh agreed to arrange the importation of hundreds of kilograms of high‑quality heroin into the United States. The confidential source indicated to Henareh that the profits from the sale of the heroin in the United States would be used, among other things, to purchase weapons for Hizballah.

The  DEA sources were introduced to Aksu and Wehbe. In February 2011, in Romania, Cyprus, Malaysia, and elsewhere, Aksu and Wehbe agreed to purchase military‑grade weaponry from confidential DEA sources on behalf of  Hizballah. In those meetings, and in telephone calls and email messages, Aksu and Wehbe discussed the purchase of American-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), Igla SAMs, AK‑47 and M4 assault rifles, M107 .50 caliber sniper rifles, and ammunition, from among other places, an American base in Germany.

On June 13, 2011, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aksu and Wehbe signed a written contract for the purchase of 48 American-made Stinger SAMs, 100 Igla SAMs, 5,000 AK‑47 assault rifles, 1,000 M4 rifles, and 1,000 Glock handguns, for a total price of approximately $9.5 million.