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18 year old Abdella Tounisi is the latest terror sting victim of the FBI. He is a U.S. citizen and a college student. His parents are Jordanian. He's now in federal detention in Chicago charged with providing material support to a terrorist group. The material support he allegedly was willing to provide was personnel -- himself.
He isn't charged with planning anything in the U.S. -- he had decided to go to Syria and fight with jihadists there. The FBI caught him by setting up a pretend Islamic terror recruiting website. He fell for the bait. During their online communications, Tounisi told the FBI he was very physically very small and had no fighting experience. He also told them he had no contacts in Syria. The FBI assured him his size didn't matter, they would train him, and then instructed him on how to make flight arrangements to Turkey. It even sent him a bus ticket for the next leg of his journey. He was arrested at O'Hare after checking in for his flight to Turkey.
According to the Complaint, the FBI monitored his google searches, the You Tube videos he watched, his IP address log-ins, and e-mails. In a later filing, the Government filed a notice it will be relying on FISA evidence. [More...]
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Recommended reading: 10 Essential Points about the Boston Marathon bombers, Islam, and America
Chechnya is a fairly remote region. There are few people on TV with actual expertise about Chechnya. Most of these “instant experts” go to Wikipedia to get their information. Because of the 24-hour news media, we now have created a cult of instant experts who need to be able to fill the airways now about Iraq, now about Afghanistan, now about Chechnya, without necessarily having set foot on these places, knowing their languages, their history, or spoken with their peoples. Complex geo-political realities are collapsed into cliché tropes of “jihad” and “terrorism.”
....Here is one simple revelation: Read the Wikipedia page on Chechnya, and then see how many of its phrases show up in the sound bites of these instant experts.
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Don't listen to the Doogie Howsers of terrorism -- the self-proclaimed experts who learned their trade on the internet and because their views fit the government's agenda, were able to parlay it into a career of testifying against suspects at trial. The cable news loves to put them on. Everyone is a terrorist to them.
The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy has been publishing yearly reports on the number of homegrown Muslim-American terror incidents. Their February 1, 2013 report (for which data is provided) shows such incidents continued to decline in 2012, for the third year in a row:
“Fourteen Muslim-Americans were indicted for violent terrorist plots in 2012, down from 21 the year before, bringing the total since 9/11 to 209, or just under 20 per year. The number of plots also dropped from 18 in 2011 to 9 in 2012. For the second year in a row, there were no fatalities or injuries from Muslim-American terrorism. … Sixty-six Americans were killed in mass shootings by non-Muslims in 2012 alone, twice as many fatalities as from Muslim-American terrorism in all 11 years since 9/11.”
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Did the FBI do the right thing in releasing the photos of persons of interest in the Boston Marathon bombing? If the goal is an arrest, followed by a fair trial, guilty verdict and punishment, I don't think so. (I am intentionally not linking to the photos.)
If either one of the depicted individuals is arrested and tried for the Boston bombing, any eyewitness identifications as to their preparatory actions are bound to be challenged in court. By the time these witnesses will be asked to identify the suspects as having bought a pressure cooker or a backpack or certain kind of sports cap, the suspects' faces will be so well-known that monks living on the mountainside in Tibet would identify them if asked. [More...]
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President Obama is speaking at the memorial service for the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. You can watch live (here.
We will find you and you will face justice... We will hold you accountable.
...."A bomb can't beat us....we carry on."
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When the Oklahoma City bombings first happened, the first suspects were innocent Muslims.
In Boston, the FBI rushed to search the home of a Saudi student injured in the blast. Why does the Washington Post, when reporting that he wasn't involved, refers to him as a "witness" instead of a victim. He sustained serious burns, why isn't he a victim just like the American victims?
In Texas, there was rampant speculation the Aryan Brotherhood or drug smugglers were responsible for the murders of two Texas prosecutors and one of their wives. The New York Times even ran a chart with pictures of "possibly connected" Aryan Brotherhood crimes. Arrests have now been made. While arrests are not indicative of guilt, one of the two arrested admitted participating in the killings with her husband, a disgruntled former Justice of the Peace. [More...]
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I just got online and saw the news about the Boston Marathon bombing. How awful. Here's a thread to discuss it.
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A military commissions judge at Guantanamo has delayed proceedings in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri for two months due to the discovery by an IT team that 540,000 private defense emails were made available to the prosecution.
The mishandling of the e-mails was detected when IT specialists were conducting a search of the government’s computer system on behalf of prosecutors in a particular case. When they did so, they came across not only the e-mails they were seeking but also e-mails between defense lawyers.
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Saeed al-Shehri (also spelled al-Shihri) the second in command of AQAP in Yemen is not dead. He released a tape today critical of Saudi Arabia. This is the third time he's been declared dead and later surfaced, alive and well. (The first time was in 2009 and the second time was in 2012.) The former Guantanamo detainee, refugee from the Saudi reconciliation program, and co-founder of AQAP, seems to have as many lives as Ilyas Kashmiri.
What I really want to know is what happened to young Yousef, al-Shehri's stepson, whose father has been trying to find him since 2009. It reads like a soap opera, kind of like a terrorist version of Elian Gonzales. [More....]
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Clapper explained that cyber threats are broken into two terms: cyberattacks and cyberespionage. Cyberattacks aim at creating physical effects or to manipulate, disrupt or delete data. “It might range from a denial-of-service operation that temporarily prevents access to a website to an attack on a power turbine that causes physical damage and an outage lasting for days,” he said. Cyber espionage refers to stealing data from a variety of sources.
“We judge that there is a remote chance of a major cyberattack against U.S. critical infrastructure systems during the next two years that would result in long-term, wide-scale disruption of services, such as a regional power outage,” Clapper said.
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Thanks to Wired for publishing the full version of the new issue of Inspire, the magazine of al-Qaeda Arab Peninsula (the rest of the media and the corporate terror-monitoring sites either just refer to it or want you to buy a subscription to access it.)
Apparently, the U.S. has made air travel so problematic, AQAP is recommending alternative ways to terrorize those in the U.S. [more...]
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In a piece in Mother Jones, Adam Serwer argues:
[W]hy didn't Obama just say, "no, the president cannot deploy drone strikes against US citizens on American soil"? Because the answer is probably "yes." That may not be as apocalyptically sinister as it sounds.
I disagree that the answer is yes and I disagree that it does not sound apocalyptically sinister. Serwer relies on law professor Steven Vladeck:
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Via Michael Isikoff at NBC News, here is the 16 page DOJ white paper titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al Qa’ida or An Associated Force." Isikoff writes:
It concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
The paper has an expanded definition of threat. [More...]
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A Senate Committee has released the results of its two year investigation into the $1.4 billion post-9/11 fusion centers The bi-partisan report finds the programs, intended to facilitate sharing of information among law enforcement, were ineffective, overly expensive and intruded on civil liberties.
“It’s troubling that the very ‘fusion’ centers that were designed to share information in a post-9/11 world have become part of the problem. Instead of strengthening our counterterrorism efforts, they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties,” said Senator Tom Coburn, the Subcommittee’s ranking member who initiated the investigation.
The investigation determined that senior DHS officials were aware of the problems hampering effective counterterrorism work with the fusion centers, but did not always inform Congress of the issues, nor ensure the problems were fixed in a timely manner.
The iinvestigation reviewed 600 reports and found most had nothing to do with terrorism. The full report is here. [More...]
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A few days ago, the New York Times reported that Mitt Romney would overturn Obama's position barring the used of enhanced interrogation techniques.
There are 18 lawyers, most of whom were part of the Bush Administation, on Romney's National Security team.
Here's the memo they wrote.
In related news, Romney and Ryan are now getting security briefings from the Obama administration.
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