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Tag: terror

NYT Film Review: ‘(T)error’ Documentary ‘Leaves Too Much Unverified’

By Ken Jaworowski
New York Times

If you assume everything said in “(T)error” is true — and for the most part, I do — it’s a sobering story. Still, though the film gains your trust, it leaves too much unverified.

The movie, billed as the first documentary to embed filmmakers in an F.B.I. counterterrorism operation, follows Saeed Torres, a former Black Panther and self-described “civilian operative” who says he works as a paid undercover informant.

Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, the directors, travel with Mr. Torres to Pittsburgh, where Mr. Torres says his mission is to befriend Khalifah al-Akili, a man who may have, among other things, posted pro-Taliban statements online. Mr. Torres, who is untrained, is supposed to gauge the potential for terrorist activity and help the F.B.I. build a case against Mr. al-Akili.

Mr. Torres meets Mr. al-Akili several times (none of those encounters, nor any with the F.B.I., are shown, only mentioned) and concludes that he isn’t a serious threat. Despite this, Mr. Torres says, he is told to press on, which casts suspicion on the F.B.I.’s investigation and, by association, its use of informants.

While the agency’s methods appear dubious, the film’s approach is sometimes lacking. No F.B.I. agents, current or retired, are interviewed for context or corroboration; an ending note says only that the agency did not respond to a request for comment.

To read more click here. 

A Look at the Top Terror Cases Handled by the FBI in 2013

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has been swamped cracking down on dangers from extremists.

This year was no exception.

Here is some of the FBI’s top terror cases of 2013:

Airport bomb plot: A 58-year-old man was charged earlier this month with attempting to explode a car bomb at a Kansas airport as an act of jihad against the U.S. He was arrested as a result of an undercover investigation. The device provided to him by our operatives was inert and posed no danger to the public.

Attempt to join al Qaeda: A New York man was arrested in October for attempting to join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and conspiring to commit murder overseas. The 25-year-old allegedly conspired with others to travel overseas to wage violent jihad against the perceived enemies of Islam, which included the secular government in Yemen.

Material support to terrorists: Two individuals—one an American citizen—were indicted in August for conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda groups and al Shabaab. The men were charged with attempting to provide money and recruits to three different terror organizations.

Sovereign citizen scheme: In July, the self-proclaimed president of a sovereign citizen group in Alabama was sentenced to 18 years in prison for promoting a tax fraud scheme that taught people how to defraud the IRS. He and other sovereign citizens also sent demands to all 50 U.S. governors in 2010 ordering each to resign within three days—to be replaced by a “sovereign” leader or be “removed.”

Attempt to wage jihad: A Florida man was indicted in July for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The 19-year-old tried to travel to the Arabian Peninsula to join and fight with a violent al Qaeda group that has taken responsibility for multiple attacks on Yemeni forces, including a suicide bombing in 2012 that killed more than 100 soldiers.

Former U.S. soldier indicted: A U.S. citizen who formerly served in the army was indicted in June for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The 30-year-old man allegedly wanted to fight alongside an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in Syria.

Far-fetched terror plan: Two New York men were charged in June with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Their scheme involved creating a remotely operated X-ray radiation-emitting device designed to kill people silently. Their targets were perceived enemies of Israel.

Tsarnaev charged: In April, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings. The attacks killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Suicide bombing: An Oregon resident was charged in March for his role in a 2009 suicide bombing. The man allegedly assisted an individual who participated in the attack at the headquarters of Pakistan’s intelligence service in Lahore that killed approximately 30 individuals and injured 300 others.

Bin Laden associate arrested: An associate of Osama bin Laden was arrested in March for conspiring to kill Americans. The individual held a key position in al Qaeda and appeared with bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks to threaten further attacks against the U.S.

 

Lawmakers Propose Changes To Close Gap When Terror Suspect Enters U.S.

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Lawmakers are trying to expand the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies to make spying more seamless when a terror suspect enters the U.S., the Associated Press reports.

The idea is to close the gap between NSA and FBI electronic surveillance, which occurs because of different legal standards between the two agencies.

That gap poses challenges in keeping surveillance uninterrupted as suspects enter the U.S.

The AP reports:

The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told The Associated Press that her committee is drafting a bill that would amend the law’s Section 702 provision, which authorizes targeting non-Americans outside the U.S., to allow uninterrupted spying on a suspect for “a limited period of time after the NSA learns the target has traveled to the United States, so the government may obtain a court order based on probable cause.”

 

The proposed changes will include testimony from top intelligence officials.

 

 

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Charged with Federal Crimes at Hospital Bed

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors charged Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his hospital bed Monday, Reuters reports.

The criminal complaint charges mean Tsarnaev won’t be treated as an enemy combatant.

“We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,”  White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commission.”

Tsarnaev has been unable to speak because of his injuries.

Read Criminal Complaint

Minnesota Man Accused of Helping Terrorist Group to Stand Trial Today

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Depending on whom you ask, Mahamud Said Omar is either a well-connected member of an Islamist terror group or he’s mental ill and incapable of being an integral part of a terrorism recruiting network, the Star Tribune reports.

Today the 46-year-old Somali man who immigrated to Minnesota in 1993 is expected to stand trail for assisting terrorists in Somolia.

Omar is accused of being an entrenched member of Al-Shabab, an Islamist insurgency group with suspected ties with Al-Qaida.

Omar will be the third Minnesota man to stand trial on aiding terrorists in Somalia.

IG Says Justice Department Underreported Terrorism Statistics

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Office of Inspector General said the Justice Department misreported terrorism statistics to Congress, the Associated Press reports.

The report, released Thursday, shows the Justice Department charged 544 people with terrorism-related crimes in the six years since the Sept. 11, attacks, not 512, as reported by the Justice Department, according to the AP.

In addition, 324 people were convicted or pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges, not 319.

While the numbers were  not significantly understated, the inspector general said such information must be reported accurately and more carefully, the AP reported.

FBI: Convicted Terrorist Sought Hits on Witnesses

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The first rule about homegrown terrorist plots: don’t talk about homegrown terrorist plots.

Or so goes the code of a North Carolina prisoner recently sentenced on terrorism charges; federal court documents now allege the man plotted to kill witnesses that testified against him, including by decapitation, reports the Associated Press.

An affidavit unsealed on Monday accuses Hysen Sherifi of plotting to kill witnesses from his cell in prison, according to the AP.  An FBI informant posing as a hitman met with Sherifi’s brother and a female friend and was given $5,000 and a photo of one person to be targeted.

Sherifi, 27, got 45 years in prison earlier weeks ago in what the prosecution argued was a conspiracy to attack the Quantico, Va., Marine base and targets abroad.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

Despite Controversial FBI Investigative Tactics, Terror Convictions Remain High

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Amid questions of FBI tactics in pursuing terror suspects, one thing that doesn’t seem to be questioned is the rate of convictions, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Many critics have voiced concern in the media lately over whether the FBI is catching and preventing terrorists, or nurturing and cultivating people to prosecute, as ticklethewire.com has recently reported on.

Still, about 90 percent of federal terrorism cases end with convictions through trial or plea deals, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law in New York told the Tampa Bay Times. “You don’t see acquittals,” she said.

Her group has tracked hundreds of cases since Sept. 11, 2001, and has only found nine acquittals, 13 dismissals and five vacated guilty verdicts, according to the Times.

The center has tracked hundreds of terrorism-related arrests since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but logged only nine acquittals, 13 complete dismissals and five vacated guilty verdicts.

To read more click here.