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Tag: terrorism

Former NSA Director Speaks Out Against FBI Head’s Call for More Surveillance Powers

Michael Hayden

Retired Gen. Michael Hayden

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey has been lobbying hard for legislation that would require technology companies to create a back door to access encrypted communications by terrorists.

The plan is so controversial that the former head of the NSA and CIA told The Daily Beast that he is opposed to it.

“I hope Comey’s right, and there’s a deus ex machina that comes on stage in the fifth act and makes the problem go away,” retired Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and the NSA, told The Daily Beast. “If there isn’t, I think I come down on the side of industry. The downsides of a front or back door outweigh the very real public safety concerns.”

According to investigators, recruiters of terrorists use encrypted systems such as WhatsApp.

“We need,” Comey said, “to be able to get access to the information in those targeted individual cases.”

The problem, however, is that opening up a door for the FBI also allows access to others, such as hackers.

“A hole is a hole,” Hayden said. “Given that reality, Americans are well-served by a high water level of security for everyone.”

FBI Investigating Whether Gunman in Tennessee Had Ties with ISIS

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine whether Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the 24-year-old who killed four Marines and a Navy petty office in Tennessee on Thursday, was involved with ISIS, USA Today reports.

Agents are examining Abdulazeez’s cellphone and computer and investigating his recent trip to Jordan following the shooting.

Family of Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait, said he was depressed “for many years.”

Before the shooting, Abdulazeez reportedly texted an Islamic verse to a friend.

“Whosoever shows enmity to a friend of Mine, then I have declared war against him,” the text read.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman: Chattanooga Attack Prove Attacks ‘Can Happen Anywhere’

Rep. Michael McCaul

Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The shooting that left five military members dead in Chattanooga last week should serve as a chilling reminder to Americans, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, said Sunday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

“If it can happen in Chattanooga, it can happen anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” the Texas Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who texted his friend an Islamic verse before the shooting spree and reportedly traveled to the Middle East recently, shot and killed four Marines and a Navy petty officer.

Homegrown or lone terrorists in the U.S. are a growing concern for security officials.

“What keeps us up at night are the ones we don’t know about,” McCaul said. “And I’m afraid this case falls into that category.”

Boston Police Captain Faced Dilemma When Dealing with Son’s Growing Extremism

Terror Plot Officer's Son

Alexander Ciccolo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo faced a dilemma when he became concerned that his son may pose a danger because of his growing extremism.

His son, Alexander Ciccolo, was mentally ill and began talking about joining ISIS and fighting in Iraq and Syria, WBUR reports. Although his son hadn’t committed a crime, Capt. Ciccolo took the news to the FBI.

Now his son is charged with plotting to detonate a bomb at an unknown university following an FBI sting.

“Obviously, he struggled with him, and he couldn’t set him straight,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “So maybe getting locked up was the best thing. Maybe now he’ll get the medical care he needs.”

The son’s attorney thinks the father had a better alternative.

“This is a kid who should have been involuntarily committed in a mental hospital,” said defense attorney Harvey Silverglate, of Cambridge, Mass. “He would have been no danger to society. He would have been no danger to himself.”

Other Stories of Interest

Congress Mulls Plan to Create Separate Unit to Investigate Terrorism

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fearing that Homeland Security is not equipped to combat violent extremism, key lawmakers in Washington passed legislation Wednesday that would create a single office dedicated to focusing solely on terrorism.

The Washington Times reports that members of the House Committee on Homeland Security butted heads over how best to handle the shortcomings.

The overhaul could be a hard sell because it hasn’t been endorsed or even introduced as an alternative by Homeland Security.

“There is no DHS strategic plan to provide clarity about how the $40 million in dedicated funding and expanded authorities would be utilized,” hRep, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the panel,e said. “There is no testimony from DHS, in an open setting, in response to concerns about transparency and the concerns that many Americans have about how current CVE (countering violent extremism) programs are being carried out.”

ISIS-Supporting Son of Boston Police Captain Accused of Plotting to Attack Campus

Firearms collected from Ciccolo's house.

Firearms collected from Ciccolo’s house.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ISIS-supporting son of a Boston Police captain is accused of threatening to use pressure-cooker bombs and guns to attack an unidentified university, Boston.com reports. 

Alexander Ciccolo, 23, was arrested on weapons charges on July 4. He is the son of the Boston Police Capt. Robert Ciccolo, police said.

Adams is accused of getting four firearms from an FBI witness.

“What I am gonna do is prepare fire bombs. I’ll do that today. T[hey] are cheap and effective,” Ciccolo said in a July 2 instant message to the witness, according to the FBI. “You get the rifles. I’ll get the powder.”

The complaint also says that Ciccolo bought a pressure cooker on July 3.

Other weapons were found when authorities searched his home.

Following the arrest, Ciccolo is accused of “forcefully” stabbing a nurse in the head, “causing a bloody gash and breaking the pen in half,” Boston.com wrote.

FBI Director Comey: ISIS-Inspired Attacks Targeting Fourth of July Were Foiled

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal agents likely disrupted a terror attack on the Fourth of July weekend by making dozens of arrests in the last four weeks, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday.

“I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington, NBC News reports. 

U.S. authorities were worried about an attack on the holiday weekend.

Comey said ISIS-inspired actions often don’t involve elaborate plots and usually are spontaneous acts.

“It’s actually hard to figure out when they’re trying to kill somebody,” Comey said. “And you cannot say, ‘Well, we’ve got to do it on the Fourth.’ Because you know you have people who are motivated to kill people, and they are unreliable in terms of when they’re going to act.”

Some of the arrests over the past four weeks would have targeted the holiday weekend, Comey said.

“We made the arrests to thwart what we thought they were up to,” he added. “Some of them were focused on the Fourth of July, and that’s as specific as I can get.”

Bill Would Help Justice Department Combat ‘Violent Extremism’

Rep. Michael McCaul

Rep. Michael McCaul

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is moving forward on its promise to combat “violent extremism.”

Reason.com reports that Rep. Michael McCaul has introduced a bill, Countering Violent Extremism Act, that would create a federal Office of Coordination for Countering Violent Extremism.

The office would be house at Homeland Security.

The bill covers a range of responsibilities, including “identifying risk factors that contribute to violent extremism in communities in the United States,” “assessing the methods used by violent extremists to disseminate propaganda and messaging to communities at risk for radicalization and recruitment,” and “establishing a counter-messaging program” to head off extremist ideas.

The bill calls for $10 million a year for the next five years and a new leader, assistant secretary for countering violent extremism.”