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FBI: California Couple That Opened Fire at Holiday Party Were Radicalized ‘for Quite Some Time’

San bernardino couple

San Bernardino couple at at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2014.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The California couple that opened fire at a holiday lunch party in San Bernardino “were radicalized and have been for quite some time,” an FBI official said.

CNN reports that Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik were ISIS supporters who practiced their shooting at a gun range, according to David Bowdich, a top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.

“The question for us,” he told reporters Monday, “is how, and by whom and where.”

Although the couple supported ISIS, it’s still unclear whether they took orders, met with terrorist leaders or executed the attack on their own.

“Remember, oftentimes, it’s on the Internet. We just don’t know,” Bowdich said. “I don’t want to speculate.”

North Carolina Official Proposes Ban on Gun Purchases for Suspected Terrorists

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional Republicans blocked an effort to prevent suspected terrorists on the federal government’s database from buying guns.

But that isn’t stopping North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper from urging state lawmakers to support a similar ban in his state, the Citizen-Times reports. 

“Stopping terror suspects from getting weapons that could harm our state and its people makes common sense,” Cooper said in a news release. “Even if Washington won’t act, we can.”

But whether Cooper has enough support is another question. Some GOP leaders accused Cooper of gun control.

State GOP Chairman Hasan Harnett accused Cooper of “stripping our citizens of their constitutional rights and denying them due process” to score points with his like-minded supporters.

DHS Chief Plans to Launch Refined Terror Advisory System

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The terrorism advisory system is being modified to reflect a “new phase” in the global fight against extremism, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday, the Washington Post reports.

The current National Terrorism Advisory System, which was launched in 2011, has two levels – elevated throated and imminent threat.

But Johnson, citing new unknown risks from people who are radicalized at home, plans to add a new level – intermediate, which means officials don’t necessarily know the source of a threat.

The secretary said the United States is entering “a new phase in the global terrorist threat that involves not just terrorist directed attacks from overseas but also terrorist inspired attacks here on the homeland and in other countries.” In this environment, he said, “having not had a specific credible piece of intelligence reflecting a specific plot is not the end of the story because we’re dealing with the prospect of terrorist inspired attacks by someone who may be below our radar and who could act on a moment’s notice.”

Former Secret Service Agent Who Stole Bitcoins During Probe Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

bitcoin_bigBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Secret Service agent who illegally accessed the now-defunct Silk Road website and stealing bitcoin was sentenced Monday to nearly six years in prison and ordered to pay $1 million for the siphoned currency, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Shaun Bridges, 33, pleaded guilty to felony charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice.

Officials pegged the value of the bitcoin at $350,000 when the currency was stolen.

Bridges sold the currency for $820,000.

Bridges’ attorneys urged the judge to sentence him to three years in prison.

President Obama Assures Americans That ‘Evolving’ Terrorism Threat Is Beatable

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Speaking from the Oval Office for only the third time, President Obama told Americans that the U.S. is prepared to combat the “evolving” threat of terrorism, NBC News reports. 

Obama said there are “growing efforts by terrorists to poison the minds” of home-grown attackers are evolving.”

“As a father to two young daughters who are the most precious part of my life, I know that we see ourselves with friends and co-workers at a holiday party like the one in San Bernardino. I know we see our kids in the faces of the young people killed in Paris,” Obama said.

“And I know that after so much war, many Americans are asking whether we are confronted by a cancer that has no immediate cure,” he said, before answering: “The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.”

Obama also called ISIS a “cult of death” that “does not speak for Islam.”

To read the full transcript of the address, click here. 

U.S. on Pace for Record Number of Background Checks for Firearms This Year

handgun-photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

So many Americans are buying guns that the FBI is on track for a record number of firearm background checks this year, CNN reports. 

Since the end of November, the FBI processed 19.8 million background checks this year – the highest number ever recorded through the first 11 months of a year.

The FBI began operating the National Instant Background Check System, or NICS, 17 years ago. Since then, the bureau has processed 222.4 million background checks and denied 1.3 million of them.

The background checks are the most reliable way to determine approximately how many guns are sold in the U.S.

CNN reported that the gun industry is doing well, with major gun makers seeing surging stock prices.

Justice Department to Announce Civil Rights Investigation of Chicago Police Department

ChicagoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After a disturbing dash cam video surfaced of a white police officer fatally shooting a black teen 16 times, the Justice Department is planning to launch an investigation into the Chicago Police Department, USA Today reports. 

Citing an anonymous source familiar with the upcoming investigation, USA Today wrote that the announcement of a probe is expected very soon.

The department’s Civil Rights Division plans to investigate whether cops were responsible for a patter of biased policing.

The state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan, recently called for an investigation, despite initial resistance from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who originally called a federal probe “misguided.” He has since changed course.

“We will let the Department of Justice address what action they will or will not choose to take, but as was made clear last week, we welcome the engagement of the Department of Justice as we work to restore trust in our police department and improve our system of police accountability,” said Emanuel’s spokesman, Adam Collins.

   

Terrorism Nearly Impossible to Stop in U.S., Says House Homeland Security Chairman

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul said Sunday that the U.S. cannot completely eradicate terrorism in this country, as evidenced by the attack in California last week that killed 14 people, the New York Post reports. 

“We didn’t see this one coming. There were no warning signs or flags,” McCaul (R-Texas) admitted to “Fox News Sunday.”

McCaul said the problem is that ISIS is a well-oiled propaganda machine, working to recruit people through social media and encrypted messages.

“We’ve stopped a lot of bad things from happening, but you just can’t stop it all when you have 200,000 ISIS tweets per day on the Internet coming into the United States to kill,” the Texas Republican said.

He added, “The volume is so high and the chatter is so high that it’s almost impossible to stop it all.”

In the meantime, the committee will try to determine whether federal investigators missed an opportunity to identify the threat posed by the San Bernardino shooters.

“There’s a serious investigation ongoing into what she was doing in Pakistan and in Saudi, including if she attended the red mosque in Islamabad, which is a very radicalized mosque,” McCaul said. “We think that she had a lot to do with the radicalization process and perhaps with Mr. Farook’s radicalization from within the United States.”