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Tag: terrorism

Experts to Homeland Security: Don’t Use Color-Coded Terror Threat Index

Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

After Homeland Security stopped issuing its color-coded terror threat index five years ago, the agency has struggled to find a better way to alert the public.

In 2014, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson proposed a new system of reds, yellows and greens.

But the Institute of Defense Analysis, which was hired to review the new system, said the colors were a “disaster” for communicating terror threats, the Associated Press reports. 

“DHS should learn from its own history and avoid repeating this error,” the consultants said in its 53-page report.

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also scoffed at the color codes.

“DHS spent $90,000 on a question we already know the answer to,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has introduced a bill for border metrics. “Measuring the security across our borders is complex and requires sophisticated and consistent metrics — not a series of colors.”

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Attorney: Terrorism Suspect Entrapped by Flirtatious Undercover Agents

Khalil Abu-Rayyan.

Khalil Abu-Rayyan.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 21-year-old Muslim man accused of planning an attack on a Detroit church was lured into a relationship by a woman who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, his attorney said.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see you right by me,” he texted her on Dec. 13, according to the Detroit Free Press.  “Words can’t explain my love for you.”

Soon after, the woman cut off the relationship with Khalil Abu-Rayyan. A month later, another woman began communicating with Abu-Rayyan, saying she loved him. She, too, was an undercover FBI employee, the man’s attorney, Todd Shanker, wrote in a court brief.

“The government resorted to a mind-boggling double-team against Rayyan with not one, but two young, fictitious Islamic women, who mercilessly manipulated him and pretended to be potential wives to Rayyan, a young U.S. citizen with no prior criminal history before the government’s aggressive involvement in his personal life,” Shanker wrote.

A judge denied Abu-Rayyan’s request for bond.

Diane Upchurch Has Been Named Head of FBI’s Little Rock Office

fbi logo large

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Diane Upchurch, who was most recently section chief of International Terrorism Operations Section 1 in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Little Rock Division.

Upchurch joined the FBI in 1995 and was first assigned to  the Dallas Division, where she focused primarily on gang, organized crime and drugs,  according to an FBI press release.

She was then assigned to the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, where she worked on international and domestic terrorism investigations. 

Later, she was off to the Los Angeles Field Office and was assigned to a drug squad as part of the Southwest Border Initiative.

In the course of her career, she has held leadership positions in the Investigative Technologies Division, Counterintelligence Division, Los Angeles Field Office and the Counterterrorism Division.

Terrorism Threat in Europe and U.S. Is ‘Increasingly Lethal,’ House Committee Reports

Rep. Michael McCaul

Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday released an alarming report about terror plots targeting Europe and the disturbing links to ISIS.

The “European Terror Threat Snapshot” also revealed that about 5,000 European citizens have traveled to Iraq or Syria, and more than 1,000 have returned to their countries, the Washington Times reports. 

“ISIS terror operatives have exploited the largest flow of refugees and migrants since World War II to infiltrate Europe undetected. EU member states reported nearly 2 million instances of illegal border crossings involving around 1 million people last year,” the new report noted. “European jihadists are also attempting to radicalize and recruit refugees settling in the European continent.”

In the committee’s monthly terrorism assessment of the U.S., officials warned of increasing danger to the U.S.

“The United States and our allies face an increasingly lethal Islamist terror threat. A global jihadist network operating from safe havens is exploiting Western security gaps to orchestrate a widespread terror campaign, particularly in Europe,” warned Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and committee chairman.

“Battle-hardened European fighters groomed by ISIS are returning home from Syria to commit acts of terror with the support of local extremist networks, as we have tragically seen in Paris and Brussels. These operatives are also potentially a plane-flight away from our shores. Given the magnitude of the threat across the continent, we are likely seeing only the tip of the jihadist iceberg in Europe.”

FBI Seeks Access to Terrorism Suspect’s Skype Account in Search for Another Suspect

Alexander Ciccolo

Alexander Ciccolo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI believes a third person may have been involved early on with a terrorism plot to attack an unidentified university outside of Massachusetts.

A cooperating witness told authorities that Alexander Ciccolo had discussed the terrorism plans with another person, the Boston Globe reports.

“There was a brother who wanted to be involved a while ago and he has not been responding to my messages,” Ciccolo, of Western Massachusetts, told the witness, who gave copies of the July 1 online conversation to authorities.

FBI Special Agent Jeffrey J. Lawrence said in affidavit, “It appears as though Ciccolo was telling [the cooperating witness] that at least one other individual had previously indicated that he wanted to be involved in his terrorism plot.”

Authorities are trying to get access to Ciccolo’ online Skype account in hopes of identifying the third person.

The cooperating witness initially alerted authorities to the alleged plot in June 2015 and agree to provide weapons to Ciccolo as part of a sting operation.

Ciccolo also is accused of building several Molotov cocktails and a pressure cooker to build a bomb.

Independent: How FBI’s iPhone Hack ‘Made Us All Vulnerable’

Apple logoBy Gus Hosien
The Independent

Since the horrific Brussels and Istanbul attacks we’ve all looked at our daily lives and saw vulnerability and risk. Where else could terrorists attack?

We begin to formulate security responses. CCTV, communication, surveillance, identity cards – they aren’t panning out. Perhaps we need to take things to the next level? How about we build an uber anti-terrorism system that grinds all our data together and identifies the people who wish to do us harm?

That uber-system has been built: it’s your smart phone. Health information? Apple Watch and other fitness trackers record your heart rate throughout the day. Financial information? Apple Pay and Google Wallet process your purchases. Locations? Your phone has recorded them all. Biometrics? You probably recorded your fingerprint, along with enough selfies too.

The FBI claimed that the iPhone, along with all of this information was impregnable. It decided to take Apple to court in order to access the phone – owned by the employers of Syed Rizwan Farook – one of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino terrorist attack in December.

This was a great PR coup for Apple. Apple’s systems were perceived as out of reach to the most powerful technology force in the history of humanity: the US Government’s intelligence and law enforcement community. However someone found vulnerability in Apple’s old mobile phone operating system, iOS8, and the agency has now admitted that it has accessed the device. The FBI has announced that it will not inform the tech firm how it breached the phone’s security features leaving millions of devices compromised.

To read more click here. 

A Week Before the Brussel’s Terror Attack, FBI Warned Dutch Police about Jihadist Brothers

Brussels

Brussels

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A week before the Brussels terror attack, the FBI supplied Dutch police with information about two brothers who blew themselves up in the massacre.

Dutch authorities passed on the critical information about Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui to their Belgian counterparts on March 17, the New York Post reports. 

“On March 16, the FBI informed Dutch police over the fact that both brothers were sought by Belgian authorities,” Dutch Interior Minister Ard van der Steur wrote after legislators asked about the Brussels residents.

The interior ministers said the FBI warned Dutch officials about Ibrahim’s criminal background” and that Khalad was wanted for “terrorism, extremism and recruitment.”

Although the interior minister said the information was shared with Belgian authorities, police there denied the brothers were part of the conversation.

The missed opportunity has provoked criticism about missteps and missed chances in the days before last week’s Brussels attacks.

Homeland Security Chief: Republicans Candidates Undermining National Security with Anti-Muslim Remarks

donald trump rallyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican presidential candidates are undermining national security efforts by resorting to harsh rhetoric about Muslims, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday.

In an interview with MSNBC, Johnson said it’s dangerous to single out Islam as the federal government is trying to build connections with Muslims who could help thwart possible terror attacks.

“Inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,” he said.

Some Republican candidates, especially Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, are sacrificing law enforcement relationships with law-abiding Muslims, Johnson said.

The rhetoric has heated up after last week’s Brussels attacks.

Other Stories of Interest