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Tag: terrorism

Homeland Security Warns of Extremists Attacking U.S. During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials nationwide that violent extremists may carry out attacks against the U.S. in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency sent law enforcement officials the intelligence bulletin, compiled by the Counterterrorism Mission Center and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The memo was obtained by ABC.

“Violent extremists probably are seeking to exploit public fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 to incite violence, intimidate targets and promote their ideologies, and we assess these efforts will intensify in the coming months,” the intelligence bulletin states.

So far, the department said it has “no information indicating any active plotting is underway.”

But the agency said foreign and domestic extremist groups are trying to spread misinformation about the pandemic.

FBI Director Chris Wray, in a video message, said the bureau is increasing its monitoring of potential threats against the U.S.

“With all the worry and uncertainty out there, we want the public to know that there are still things they can count on: We’re here, and we’re going to stay here, to protect them, no matter what,” Wray said. “Because our criminal and national security adversaries sure aren’t going to take a day off – whether that’s for the coronavirus or, for that matter, anything else.”

Earlier this month, the FBI alerted local police that some white supremacist groups are encouraging members to weaponize the coronavirus by spreading it to cops and Jews. These extremists are directing their followers who get infected with coronavirus to spread it by employing methods that include using spray bottles with their bodily fluids, according to the alert.

DOJ Watchdog Criticizes FBI’s Handling of U.S.-Based Violent Extremists

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s inspector general criticized the FBI’s handling of U.S.-based extremists who successfully carried out attacks against Americans after the bureau investigated them.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report identified homegrown violent extremists (HVE) who continued to act violently after the FBI prematurely closed their cases.

“Since September 11, 2001, HVEs have carried out over 20 attacks in the United States, some of which occurred after the FBI closed a counterterrorism investigation or assessment on the individual,” the report said.

The report identified “at least six attacks committed in the United States by individuals who the FBI had previously assessed or investigated” between 2009 and 2017. They include the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2016 Orland Pulse Nightclub attack.

The report encourages the FBI to improve its handling of tips about potentially violent people and develop a more comprehensive plan to determine the risks of individuals with mental health problems.

Updated: Ex-FBI Translator Gets Probation for Making False Statements in Terrorism Case

Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Updated: 9:40 a.m. Monday — A former FBI translator was sentenced to probation Friday after he admitted doctoring transcripts when his own voice came up on intercepts of phone calls placed by a terrorism suspect, the Associated Press reports. He was also fined $1,000.

________________

A former FBI translator is expected to be sentenced in federal court today after he pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case involving a terrorism suspect.

Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, 68, of Burke, Virginia, was arrested in May on charges of lying to investigators about having contact with a man accused of joining a militant Somali group tied to terrorism.

In November, Wehelie pleaded guilty to making false statements, saying he doctored transcripts to hide the fact that he received a phone call from the man, who had been under surveillance.

The Justice Department said Wehelie had a personal relationship with the suspect, who had left a voicemail on Wehelie’s phone. When Wehelie translated the call, he changed his name to “unidentified male.”

The terrorism suspect’s phone was under court-ordered surveillance.

According to federal prosecutors, Wehelie later disclosed that he had been friends with the suspect for years.

Wehelie faces up to 25 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months in jail.

FBI Study on ‘Lone Offender Terrorism’ Reveals Common Traits Among Attackers

Terrorism exercise in Portland. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new FBI study examining “lone offender terrorism” found common traits that could help identify future attackers.

Of the 52 examined cases between 1972 and 2015, 83% were carried out by people who had previously exhibited hostility or aggression, according to the 81-page report. In all of the cases, people around the attackers expressed concern over their behavior.

In 96% of the cases, the offender produced a video, blog or letter that was intended to be viewed by others.

“Absent this report and others like it, someone could see something and they’re solely relying on their gut feeling or spider sense to say, ‘That doesn’t look right,’ or ‘That’s concerning,’” Special Agent John Wyman, chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU)’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which conducted the research, said. “I think by putting this information out there, it helps people get over that barrier. It gives you something to fall back on to validate whatever your gut feeling was.”

The study found that half of the cases were motivated by anti-government extremism. Other significant motivators were racial extremism and Islamist violence.

All of the attackers were men, mostly white and a vast majority born in the U.S. Most were single and had free time to focus on the attacks and their grievances.

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.”

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.