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Tag: terrorism

Homeland Security Official Who Scaled Back Counterterrorism Efforts Is Resigning

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Department of Homeland Security official and presidential appointee will leave his post after scaling back on some counterterrorism efforts involving weapons of mass destruction.

James F. McDonnell, who led the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, will step down at noon Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan requested McDonnell’s departure.

In his seven-sentence resignation memo, McDonnell did not give a reason for resigning.

McDonnell has faced criticism earlier this year for promoting a scientifically-disputed system for detection of airborne infectious agents such as anthrax.

McDonnell also directed “the scaling back or elimination of multiple anti-terrorism programs at Homeland Security, which has primary domestic responsibility for helping authorities detect and block WMD-related threats,” The Los Angeles Times wrote.

Judge: FBI Terror Watch List Violates Constitutional Rights of U.S. Citizens

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An FBI watch list of more than one million people identified as “known or suspected terrorists” infringes on the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens in the database, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga said the Terrorist Screening Database violates Americans’ constitutional right to due process, NBC News reports.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by 23 Muslim Americans, who argued they were wrongly included in the database, which they say is overly broad and inaccurate.

The plaintiffs said they were subjected to abuse and harassment while traveling.

“The general right of free movement is a long-recognized, fundamental liberty,” he wrote. “Inclusion in the TSDB accordingly imposes a substantial burden on Plaintiff’s exercise of their rights to international travel and domestic air travel” which he adds is a “deprivation of liberty interests.”

The FBI has not responded to media requests for comment.

FBI Director: White Supremacy Behind Rise in Domestic Terrorism Cases

FBI Director Christopher Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that white supremacy is behind an increase in domestic terrorism cases this fiscal year.

In the past nine months, the FBI has recorded about 100 domestic terrorism arrests, which is an increase over previous years.

“A majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The number of domestic terrorism cases now rivals the number of international terrorism cases, Wray said, contradicting President Trump’s claims that white nationalism was not on the rise.

The increase comes amid concerns that President Trump’s rhetoric is fueling white supremacy.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Wray whether the bureau is taking the domestic terror threat seriously in light of Trump’s rhetoric.

“There is a concern that this is not being taken as seriously as it should be as one of the real threats in our country,” Durbin told Wray.

“We take domestic terrorism or hate crime, regardless of ideology, extremely seriously, I can assure you, and we are aggressively pursuing it using both counterterrorism resources and criminal investigative resources and partnering closely with our state and local partners,” Wray responded.

Another concern is that a vast majority of the domestic cases are not leading to terrorism charges.

FBI Task Force Nabs Suspect Accused of Plotting Times Square Attack

Times Square, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI and local police nabbed a man they believe was plotting to detonate explosives in Times Square.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force took the suspect into custody Thursday after setting up a sting to catch him buying weapons CBS 2 reports.

Authorities believe the suspect was acting alone and not planning another attack.

The suspect, who has not yet been identified, is set to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday.

Authorities have not yet indicated a motive.

Charles Spencer Named Assistant Director of FBI’s International Operations Division

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Charles Spencer, a 21-year FBI veteran who most recently served as special agent in charge of the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida, has been named as the new assistant director of the bureau’s International Operations Division.

Spencer will manage the FBI’s legal attaché program at the division, where he’s tasked with building relationships with foreign law enforcement and intelligence partners. The division also trains international law enforcement partners.

Spencer’s long career with the FBI began in 1998, when he was assigned to the Washington Field Office, working on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. In 2005, he was promoted to supervisory special agent, overseeing the FBI’s gun vault.

In 2007, the FBI deployed Spencer to Iraq.

A year later, Spencer served as the supervisor of the Oklahoma City Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. In 2011, he was awarded the FBI’s Shield of Bravery for an encounter with a heavily armed domestic terrorist.

In 2013, the FBI promoted him to assistant special agent in charge of the national security branch in the New Orleans Field Office, where he headed up programs covering weapons of mass destruction, counterintelligence, counter=terrorism, cyber-crimes, surveillance, and crisis management.

In 2015, Spencer became the deputy assistant director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.
A year later, Spencer was placed in charge of the Jacksonville office.

Before joining the FBI, Spencer earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University. He later became an engineer in the commercial nuclear power industry.

FBI Handled More Domestic Terrorism Cases Than International Terrorism This Fiscal Year

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The number of domestic terrorism arrests have exceeded international terrorism arrests in the current fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Domestic cases were 66, compared to 63 international cases.

The trend has prompted the FBI to focus more of its attention on home-grown extremists, a senior FBI counterterrorism official told Reuters.

One recent attack in the U.S. involved a mass shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Many of the attacks involve racially motivated and anti-government extremism, as well as attacks on abortion clinics.

The Internet has been a key source of radicalization in the U.S.

“Terrorism moves at the speed of the Internet,” the official said.

Trump’s Crackdown on the Border Could Make Airports Less Safe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Transportation Security Administration, which protects America’s airports by screening passengers, could lose substantial funding to finance President Trump’s crackdown at the southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security is asking for $232 million from the TSA to fund increased security measures at the border, a controversial move that underscores the dramatic shifts in priorities after the 9/11 attacks.

Homeland Security is requesting the money in case Congress doesn’t support a $1.1 billion funding request, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

A DHS spokesman said the agency is “considering all options” to combat the influx of migrants at the southwest border.

“We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.

Domestic Terrorism Remains ‘Persistent And Evolving,” FBI Official Says

FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The threats posed by domestic terrorists remain “persistent and evolving,” with the FBI investigating about 850 active cases, FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity told the House Committee on Homeland Security on Wednesday.

“The FBI assesses domestic terrorists collectively pose a persistent and evolving threat of violence and economic harm to the United States. In fact, there have been more arrests and deaths in the United States caused by domestic terrorists than international terrorists in recent years,” McGarrity said, according to CNN.

Of those cases, about 40% are racially motivated, often involving white supremacists, he said.

Despite this, President Trump has insisted white nationalism isn’t a serious threat, saying “it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” That comes after Trump’s lukewarm response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, that left one person dead and others injured.

During Wednesday’s hearings, Democrats seized on Trump’s insistence on downplaying the threat posed by white supremacists.

“Unfortunately, President Trump has tried to play both sides with domestic terrorism,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who leads the committee. “His unwillingness to denounce and distance himself from these extremists has been taken by many as tacit support.”

In 2018, 17 people were killed in six attacks by domestic terrorists, McGarrity said.