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Archive for May 3rd, 2012

Terrorism and the American Dream: Part III


Karim Koubriti/photo Millard Berry-Deadline Detroit

The final of three installments on an immigrant who was wrongly convicted of terrorism in Detroit and how he went on to live the American dream.

In case you missed the first two articles of this series, you can find those here,

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Once free, Karim Koubriti tried to reconnect with normalcy.

He’d spent three years behind bars after being wrongly accused of being part of a Detroit terrorist sleeper cell, then another 15 months in a halfway house while prosecutors figured out how to address a charge of insurance fraud.

Authorities eventually dropped the fraud charge, but the clean slate didn’t necessarily mean easy sailing. For a while, he couldn’t find a job. People would say, “Oh, you’re that guy,” a reference to the terrorist accusations.

“I had a hard time getting a job. It was difficult in the beginning until things calmed down,” he said.

To read the full story click here.


3 ICE Agents Shot and Wounded in San Francisco Area

By Allan Lengel

Incidents like this remind us of the dangers of being in law enforcement.

Three Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were shot and wounded Thursday morning around 4 a.m. while executing a search warrant in Petaluma, outside of San Francisco, reported KABC.

The agents suffered non-life threatening wounds, the station reported.

The agents were executing a federal warrant related to a 2010 gang related triple homicide, the station reported.

The suspect was arrested, the station reported.


ICE Agent Shot to Death: 14-Year-Old Son is Suspect

By Allan Lengel

A California Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was shot to death in Los Angeles County Wednesday and his 14-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder, the LA Times reported.

The Times reported that the agent was killed by a single bullet that was fired into their Carson, Calif., home from the father’s ICE-issued handgun.

The name of the agent and son were not disclosed. The agent was around 40.

To read more click here.


Feds Crack Down On Medicare Fraud to the Tune of $452 Million

Shoshanna Utchenik

DETROIT — The Justice Department  on Wednesday announced that it had charged 107 people including nurses, doctors and social workers in a nationwide crackdown on Medicare fraud in seven cities involving a staggering $452 million in false billing.

As part of the crackdown, 22 people were charged in Detroit  with fraud involving about $58 million. The Detroit Free Press wrote that Detroit has become one of the nation’s “new frontiers” for Medicare fraud.

Read the press release.

Football Hangs its Head: FBI Stings 3 Former Pro Football Players in Tax Refund Scam

Shoshanna Utchenik

Football has seen better weeks.

Three former pro football players were among those arrested in a Florida tax ring this week that involved an FBI sting, reported CBS News from Miami yesterday.

The FBI set up an undercover cash checking store in North Miami and the three cashed about $500,000 in fraudulent refund checks.

The players included former Oakland Raiders and New York Giants defensive tackle William Joseph, along with running back Michael Bennett, once a Minnesota Vikings first-round pick, and Louis Gachelin, who played professionally in Europe, seemed to put their team strategizing skills to use long after they left the field.

To read more about the tax ring click here.


Fed Judge Deciding Whether FBI Improperly Gathered Evidence

Judge Garr M. King, photo Wikipedia

Shoshanna Utchenik

Yet another instance of the war on terror infringing on personal freedoms? Or a case of bureaucracy standing in the way of justice?

Federal Judge Garr M. King has to make that determination.

Oregon Live reports that King has delayed ruling on whether the FBI improperly gathered evidence on Portland terrorism suspect Mohamed Mohamud, in which case significant corroborating evidence would not be admissible in Mohamud’s upcoming trial.

The Oregon State University student will stand trial October 2 for allegedly attempting to ignite a weapon of mass destruction in 2010, an incident both prevented by and baited by an FBI sting operation. The FBI’s investigation was triggered by concerns from the suspect’s father that his son was being brainwashed by Islamic jihadists, according to Oregon Live.

In an unrelated incident, 2009 date rape charges against Mohamud were dropped. This was after Mohamud volunteered his laptop and cellphone to State Police and came up clean. That’s where things got sticky: As part of their ongoing investigation, the FBI helped themselves to info the state cops got from these personal devices. Did the the FBI violate Muhamud’s rights by ‘sharing’ this info?

To read more click here.


Terrorism and the American Dream: Part II

In case you missed part one of this series, you’ll find that here, Terrorism and the American Dream: Part I. Also, columnist Greg Stejskal,  a retired FBI agent, previously wrote a column defending the prosecutor in the case, Richard Convertino. To read that column called “Sleeper Cell Nightmare”  click here.


In the second of three installments, Deadline Detroit tells the story of how Karim Koubriti has rebuilt his life after being wrongly convicted of terrorism. Photo/Millard Berry

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– Karim Koubriti waited in jail for trial. It was 2001. He was accused, along with three other friends, of operating a terrorist sleeper cell in Detroit in a case that generated national attention in the chaos and paranoia of the post-9/11 world.

In October 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft suggested the group had prior knowledge of the 9/11 plot. A day later, Ashcroft retracted the statement.

“I was very angry,” Koubriti recalled, recalling that time. “Everybody was pissed off. This is not happening. This is a joke.”

At some point, the men were kept separate from one another at the Wayne County Jail and in lock down for 23 hours a day.

Koubriti’s lawyer, Richard Helfrick, who sat in on the interview with Deadline Detroit, said prosecutor Richard Convertino wanted the four men to plead guilty, but insisted they give up information about terrorism.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Helfrick recalled saying. The defendants simply were not terrorists.

To read the full story click here.




Author Says Investigators Blew Chances to Prevent OK Bombing

Andrew Gumbel is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer and a longtime foreign correspondent for British newspapers. He is a co-author of the book: “Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed–and Why It Still Matters.”
By Andrew Gumbel
Huffington Post

Ever since Timothy McVeigh’s execution, four months to the day before 9/11, a certain conventional wisdom has taken hold that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was the work of just two disenchanted guys from the heartland who did something colossally heartless and stupid, got caught and paid the price.

But that tells only part of a much more complicated and troubling story. In our new book Oklahoma City: What The Investigation Missed–And Why It Still Matters (William Morrow; April 24, 2012), Roger Charles and I show that a fractious, over-timid federal law enforcement community blew chances to prevent the bombing and failed to follow several promising leads pointing to the broader involvement of the radical far right.

Their failings were remarkably similar to those that emerged in the wake of the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington: the threat was underestimated, law enforcement agencies fought each other instead of pooling vital information, and the country’s institutions were ultimately more  interested in protecting themselves than in unearthing the truth.

To read the full column click here.