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Tag: terrorism

American Gave al-Qaeda Info on N.Y. Commuter Trains

The war on terrorism has not been an easy task. But it’s only made more difficult when Americans like Vinas  help out major terrorist organizations.

pakistan-map

By Sebastian Rotella and Josh Meyer
Tribune Newspapers
WASHINGTON — An American from New York’s Long Island who was captured while fighting as an al-Qaida militant in Pakistan has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to commit murder outside the United States and is cooperating with authorities, according to a federal indictment and interviews with U.S. and European officials.

Bryant Neal Vinas, 26, is one of a handful of Americans known to have made the trek to al-Qaida’s secret Pakistani compounds, and his cooperation is opening a rare window into the world of Western militants in the network’s hide-outs, anti-terrorism officials said.

Vinas has admitted to meeting al-Qaida operations chiefs and giving them information for a potential attack on New York commuter trains, conversations that resulted in an alert in November, said the officials, who requested anonymity because the case is ongoing.

For Full Story

Obama Admin. Could End Color Themed Terrorism Advisories

It’s been the subject of jokes and fear. And frankly, no one will miss or feel less secure it if it’s gone.

color-codes

BY EILEEN SULLIVAN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -The Obama administration has begun a review that could spell an end to the advisories, long derided by late-night TV comics and portrayed by some Democrats as a tool for Bush administration political manipulation.

It’s not likely the review will plunge an alert system into the dark altogether but, short of that, everything is on the table for consideration, according to one official familiar with the plans.

The alert system assigns five different colors to terror risk levels. Green at the bottom signals a low danger of attack and red at the top warns of a severe threat. It was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was designed to help emergency responders get prepared.

For Full Story

Get Chris Battle’s Read on the Color Code Theme ( Security DeBrief)

Is Justice Dept. Covering for Saudis Links to Terrorism?

saudi-flagU.S. relations with the Saudis is obviously important. But is it worth covering up that nation’s ties to terrorism? And is it worth compromising the integrity of the Justice Department, which is deeply involved in the fight against terrorism?

By Eric Lichtblau
New York Times
WASHINGTON – Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family, but the material may never find its way into court because of legal and diplomatic obstacles.

The case has put the Obama administration in the middle of a political and legal dispute, with the Justice Department siding with the Saudis in court last month in seeking to kill further legal action.

Adding to the intrigue, classified American intelligence documents related to Saudi finances were leaked anonymously to lawyers for the families. The Justice Department had the lawyers’ copies destroyed and now wants to prevent a judge from even looking at the material.

For Full Story

Read Documents Showing Links

FBI and NYPD Train For Terror Attacks

nypd-badge1No matter how many times you do it, you can’t train enough for a terrorism attack. There’s always variables that can arise during the real thing that never came up during training. The more you train, the more variables you can anticipate.

By Tom Hays
Associated Press
NEW YORK
— The FBI was scrambling.

Agents had intercepted information about a possible terrorist attack in Manhattan, including a diagram showing a mysterious device. The raw intelligence was relayed to experts in Washington, who offered a daunting diagnosis: “You have a problem.”

As chilling as that sounded, the situation wasn’t real. But authorities say it could be, and what followed over the next two days was an ambitious stress test of the city’s line of defense against a radiological or nuclear terrorist attack.

The exercise earlier this week involved hundreds of New York Police Department officers and FBI agents trained at detecting threats, along with an elite unit of federal weapons experts expected – with the approval of the U.S. attorney general – to swoop in by plane and defuse them.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Three In Ft. Dix Terorrism Case Get Life Sentences

The defendants insist they are innocent. The government insists the defendants were planning a massacre. The judge was convinced of their guilt and expressed concern that they showed no remorse.

By Troy Graham
Philadelphia Inquirer
ftdix31 CAMDEN, N.J. — Three of the five men convicted of plotting a terrorist attack on Fort Dix were sentenced to life in prison yesterday, and two of them were given an additional 30 years for gun charges.

All three of the Duka brothers – Dritan, Eljvir and Shain – vociferously proclaimed their innocence before their sentences were announced.

At the end of his statement, Eljvir Duka, 25, turned toward his large family, seated in the gallery, and urged them to “be patient, don’t worry.”

“Being in prison and knowing you’re innocent is a great feeling in the sight of God,” he said. “The government knows what they did.”

District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler noted that the defendants showed no remorse for their actions, and said “a harsh, punitive sentence is necessary.”

For Full Story

Civil Liberties Groups Express Concern Over New System to Uncover Potential Terrorism Plots

This new system is inviting concerns from civil liberty groups. The question is: Is there a way to strike up a balance between security concerns and citizen rights? We’ll see how this one plays out.aclu

By Eric Schmitt
New York Times
LOS ANGELES-– A growing number of big-city police departments and other law enforcement agencies across the country are embracing a new system to report suspicious activities that officials say could uncover terrorism plots but that civil liberties groups contend might violate individual rights.

Here and in nearly a dozen other cities, including Boston, Chicago and Miami, officers are filling out terror tip sheets if they run across activities in their routines that seem out of place, like someone buying police or firefighter uniforms, taking pictures of a power plant or espousing extremist views.

Ultimately, state and federal officials intend to have a nationwide reporting system in place by 2014, using a standardized system of codes for suspicious behaviors. It is the most ambitious effort since the Sept. 11 attacks to put in place a network of databases to comb for clues that might foretell acts of terrorism.

But the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups warn that the program pioneered by the Los Angeles Police Department raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns.

For Full Story

Justice and FBI Say They Won’t Compromise Terrorism Resources

The Justice Department needs to continue allocating resources for terrorism. But it better beef up the fight against fraud, including mortgage fraud. That, simply put,  has become financial terrorism and it’s helping bring down our economy, not to mention harming the American psyche.

Robert Mueller III

Robert Mueller III

By DAVID JOHNSTON and NEIL A. LEWIS
New York Times
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is moving to solidify one of the most significant shifts of resources put into place under President George W. Bush: the transformation of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation into agencies where the top priority is counterterrorism rather than conventional law enforcement.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other Justice Department officials have emphasized that they will not cut resources allocated to national security in the foreseeable future, and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, told lawmakers on Wednesday that “we have no intention of retreating from preventing a terrorist attack on American soil as our No. 1 priority.”

The Obama administration’s decision to maintain current levels of national security staffing comes as officials acknowledge, as Mr. Mueller did in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the shift of agents to counterterrorism and intelligence duties after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has seriously complicated other efforts.

Those include demands for resources to combat corporate and financial fraud and a deadly drug war across the border with Mexico.

For Full Story

Some Congress Members Fear Mexican Cartels Might Help Terrorists Attack U.S.

It’s hard to say whether Congress members are taking this too far. Then again, who would have thought the Mexican drug wars would create so many problems here in the U.S. What ever the case, the situation south of the border can’t be ignored here in the states.

By Jordy Yager

Rep. Henry Cuellar/official photo

Rep. Henry Cuellar/official photo

The Hill
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are raising the alarm that war-like conditions on the Mexican border could lead to Mexican drug cartels helping terrorists attack the U.S.

“When you have…gangs and they have loose ties with al Qaeda and then you have Iran not too far away from building a nuclear capability, nuclear terrorism may not be far off,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R- Ariz.), a member of the House Armed Services committee.

The Mexican drug cartels’ violence accounted for more than 6,000 deaths last year, and in recent months it has begun spilling over into the districts of lawmakers from the southwest region, even as far north as Phoenix, Ariz. — which has become, Franks noted, the “kidnap capital of the U.S.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), whose district borders Mexico, said that while the situation is bad, it could easily get worse.

“The goal of the cartels is to make money,” said Cuellar, who sits on the House Homeland Security committee. “If they can smuggle in drugs and human cargo, then certainly they can smuggle other things in, other devices to cause us harm.”

“We have not heard of any associations, but is there the possibility? I’ll be the first to say, yeah. They have the routes, they can very easily smuggle in other things.”
For Full Story