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Tag: ISIS

Jeh Johnson: Trump’s Obsession with Immigration Is Undermining Homeland Security’s Focus

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Few people understand the threats facing the U.S. better than Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of Homeland Security from December 2013 to January 2017.

After his departure, President Trump has been unable to hold onto a Homeland Security secretary. His fourth secretary, Kevin McAleenan, is resigning at the end of the month.

In op-ed in the Washington Post, Johnson says there are two threats that “would keep him up at night:” The resurgence of ISIS is Syria, and Russia’s ongoing campaign to meddle in U.S. elections.

“Particularly in the current threat environment, our nation cannot afford a continued string of temporary, acting secretaries promoted from within the ranks of DHS to, as some would have it, simply receive and transmit orders from the White House,” Johnson wrote. “The job is one of the most complex and critical in the U.S. government.”

In Johnson’s view, Trump’s Homeland Security secretaries have been an “instrument for hammering the administration’s hard-line views on immigration,” while losing focus on “counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, maritime security, port security, the physical protection of our national leaders and U.S. government buildings, the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland and the response to natural disasters.”

On Tuesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen complained that Trump wanted things his way – and he could not take no for an answer.

Immigration hardliners were hoping Trump would appoint Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, or Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Turns out, they are ineligible by a federal law governing agency succession.

“The president should resist the temptation to nominate a pronounced hard-liner on immigration who will be a lightning rod to lead a Cabinet department already in the thick of political storms,” Johnson wrote.

His advice: “Fill the job with someone well qualified, and fill it soon, Mr. President. A president who leaves the job vacant for too long is neglecting his own duty to defend the homeland and keep the American people safe.”

DOJ: FBI Foils Syrian Refugee’s Plot to Bomb a Church in Pittsburgh

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI foiled a Syrian refugee’s plot to attack a Christian church in Pittsburgh next month, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 21, a Pittsburgh resident, was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS and two counts of distributing information relating to an explosive, destructive device or weapon of mass destruction.

Alowemer is accused of planning to bomb a church in Pittsburgh in the name of ISIS using a “weapon of mass destruction”

The Justice Department said Alowemer was motivated to attack the church to “take revenge for our (ISIS) brothers in Nigeria.

“Our top priority is protecting the citizens of western Pennsylvania,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said. “Every day investigators and prosecutors work tirelessly behind the scenes to disrupt terrorist activity and keep our community safe. While the public does not always see the results of the hard work of these dedicated men and women, this case is a visible demonstration of our commitment to rooting out terrorists and bringing them to justice.”

Born in Syria, Alowemer was permitted into the U.S. as a refugee in August 2016.

U.S. Offers to Dispatch FBI to Sri Lanka for Help in Easter Bombing Probe

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The U.S. is offering to help Sri Lanka track down the terrorists behind the string of Easter bombings that killed 321 people.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks on three hotels and three churches, which were carried out by suicide bombers.

The U.S. said it would dispatch FBI agents with expertise in testing for bomb evidence, The Washington Post reports.  Analysts in the U.S. also are reviewing bureau databases for any useful information.

Among those killed were at least four U.S. citizens.

Sri Lankan officials are investigating how local ISIS members planned and coordinated the deadly attack.

Bias? Feds Worried Black Activists Would Join ISIS, Other Terrorists

File photo of President Trump protesters in Ypsilanti, Mi. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities became worried in 2014 that black activists who were calling for an end to the police killings of African Americans would join international terrorist groups such as ISIS.

Unsurprisingly, authorities found no evidence to substantiate their baseless concerns, according to documents obtained by the government transparency group Property of the People and shared exclusively with The Intercept.

The records “reveal that officials with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence exaggerated the significance of isolated social media activity, mostly by foreign accounts, advocating for a connection between the domestic movement against police brutality and foreign terrorism.”

As protests broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 and Baltimore in 2015, DHS officials worried that ISIS may try “to use the situation in Ferguson as a recruitment tool” or call on “Baltimore rioters to join them.”

A year later, as protests spread to other cities, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a cabinet position, issued a memo about a single, foreign pro-Al Qaeda Facebook user who urged “‘Black’ Americans to take up arms” and “start armed war against the U.S. government.”

This wasn’t the first time federal law enforcement warned of black activists.

In a 2017 threat assessment report, the FBI came up with the label, “Black Identity Extremism,” to warn about potential homegrown violence stemming from anger over police shootings.

No evidence was ever found to tie black activists with terrorism.

“They try to make it more scary, it’s like, ‘If we link Islam to it, and we link Muslims to it, then people will see this as a real threat, because nothing is scarier than Muslims,’” Umar Lee, a well-known St. Louis activist, who is Muslim, told The Intercept. “Nothing is scarier than, ‘Hey, if the Muslims get together with these scary black dudes, then we got a real problem, so we need every resource available to stop this.’”

How the Secret Service Foiled an ISIS Plot to Assassinate Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Secret Service agents foiled an ISIS plot by ISIS to assassinate President Trump while he was in the Philippines last year.

The botched assassination attempt was in November 2017, when Trump was in Manila for a summit and met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The National Geographic disclosed the assassination attempt for the first time during its television special Sunday about the Secret Service, United States Secret Service: On the Front Line.

According to the report, threats had been made on Twitter, and a series of ISIS videos threatened the president with an ambush.

While in Manila, Secret Service agents discovered and apprehended a jihadi hiding out and waiting for an “associate” just blocks from the hotel where the president was staying.

Homeland Security Warns of Weaponized Drones in Hands of Terrorists

Drone via CBP.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The potential for weaponized drones has never been greater.

Fearing that terrorists could use drones to attack Americans, Homeland Security is urging Congress for more authority to stop  malicious drones.

Intelligence officials are warning that terrorist organizations like ISIS have mastered the use of weaponized drones.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro was almost struck by explosives dropped from drones earlier this year. 

“Any time drones are used for an attack, what appears to have been an assassination attempt, it’s gravely concerning,” DHS’ top intelligence official, David Glawe, told CBS News.

Glawe fears that a weaponized drone could threaten the Super Bowl or White House, for example.

But no law enforcement agency has the authority to jam or shoot down drones, Glawe said.

“I think we want the opportunity to have all tools in the toolbox for our law enforcement officers. To identify good from bad is a key component,” Glawe said.

DHS has asked Congress to give the agency power to “redirect, disable, disrupt control of, seize, or confiscate, without prior consent” a drone that “poses a threat.” But after a Senate committee approved the legislation last summer, the bill stalled over concerns from civil liberties groups.

“It’s a problem because it means that DHS can shoot a drone out of the air or seize it and they can do so without ever having a judge look at their actions and determine if they were right,” said Neema Singh Giuliani, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Glawe said there is no time to debate the issue.

“This threat is upon us today. I wake up in the morning and night just hoping we don’t have an attack,” Glawe said. 

FBI Agent: Terrorists Working to Take Down America’s 911 Emergency Response System

Aristedes Mahairas (FBI photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There’s an infinite number of scary scenarios involving terrorists.

Here’s one: The FBI is warning that terrorists are working to acquire the cyber skills to carry out catastrophic attacks that could involve taking down America’s 911 emergency response system, Business Insider reports.

Aristedes Mahairas, a special agent in charge of the New York FBI’s Special Operations/Cyber Division, tells Business Insider terror groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are plotting attacks that could wipe out online networks to maximize casualties.

“The concern is that the cyber terrorists will one day be able to simultaneously execute an attack in the virtual world and in the physical world,” Mahairas tells the publication.

How FBI Played Role in Troubled Man’s Alleged Plot to Attack Pier 39 in San Francisco

Everitt Aaron Jameson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Everitt Aaron Jameson was a quiet, struggling 26-year-old former Marine whose young family had just fallen apart when the FBI first came across him in late September.

A tow truck driver living in Modesto, Calif., Jameson had recently converted to Islam and was “liking” pro-ISIS and pro-terrorism Facebook posts. An undercover FBI employee posing an ISIS leader reached out to Jameson, who reportedly was flattered by the attention.

Jameson and the undercover agent communicated over the next two months. Saying he was inspired by the New York City terror attack on Oct. 31 and the mass shooting in San Bernardino in 2015, Jameson told the agent he had been trained in sharpshooting, the M-16 and AK-47, according to the court filing. Jameson said the ideal location for a terror attack was San Francisco’s Pier 39, a popular tourist destination that could result in massive casualties, the FBI alleged.

“He had been there before and knew that it was a heavily crowded area,” an FBI affidavit filed Friday said. “Jameson explained that he also desired to use explosives, and described a plan in which explosives could ‘tunnel’ or ‘funnel’ people into a location where Jameson could inflict casualties.”

The final plan was to attack people at Pier 39 0n Christmas with a pipe bomb and then shoot people as they fled, according to court records. The FBI said Jameson provided the undercover agent with a map and photos of the site and that he “did not need an escape plan because he was ready to die.”

Jameson, who was discharged from the Marines for lying about his asthma, didn’t have the material needed to carry out the attack, so he asked the undercover agent for an assault rifle, ammunition, powder, nails, timers, tubing and remote detonators.

But by late Monday night, Jameson had cold feet and told the undercover agent, “I … don’t think I can do this after all. I’ve reconsidered.”

Still, the FBI secured a warrant Wednesday and searched Jameson’s home, finding a firearms, ammunitions and a note declaring his intent to attack the non-Muslim world.

Following his arrest, media headlines wrongly declared that the FBI “thwarted” or “foiled” the attack, even though Jameson withdrew from the plot.

Jameson has been charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

When Jameson’s parents were notified of their son’s alleged plans, they were in disbelief and said he was incapable of carrying out such an attack without the help and encouragement of the FBI. They said Jameson, normally a kind and gentle man, was depressed after losing custody of his two young children – ages 2 and 3 – while his wife was serving time in jail.

“He lost his kids for good and he was devastated,” his father, Gordon Jameson, told the Modesto Bee

“He would never hurt people. Not ever. It’s just unbelievable. That’s not who he is,” his father added, saying his son recently turned to Islam for comfort.

“We’d talk about Jesus – not argue, just talk – and he’d say ‘yeah, Dad, we all believe in the same god,'” his father said. “He never once spoke about hate or wanting to hurt anything. He never said anything about wanting to blow people up.”