IPT Terror Alert –

June 15, 2009

The IPT Terror Alert

Monday 15 June 2009

Top News
1.  Recruiter shootings spark homegrown terror fears (AP)
Carlos Bledsoe’s transformation from Tennessee youth to an American-born Islamic extremist charged in a bloody rampage outside an Arkansas military recruiting station may signal an ominous new wave of violent homegrown jihadists, counterterror officials say. National security officials have long feared the emergence of a new breed of American militants who would raise little suspicion as they move in and out of the country carrying out the aims of terrorist groups like al-Qaida. “It’s the manifestation of a problem that the counterterrorism community has been worried about all along,” said Juan Zarate, a top counterterrorism official in the Bush administration. Their worries center on “a radicalized individual who decides to take matters into his own hands.”

2.  A Threat in Every Port (NY Times)
While President Obama’s future vision of “a world with no nuclear weapons” is certainly laudable, for the present America still needs to do everything it can to prevent a terrorist from detonating such a bomb on our soil. The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is in charge of developing a worldwide nuclear-detection system that, primarily, would use technology to monitor vehicles and shipping containers along the various transportation networks by which nuclear weapons could be smuggled into America. Yet the Government Accountability Office found last year that the detection office “lacks an overarching strategic plan,” despite the $2.8 billion a year spent on the initiative. How should the detection office proceed? The best way to view the problem strategically is through game theory. In this case, the government plays first and uses its budget to place detection resources — technology, security experts and the like — at the various “nodes” along the transportation network, like seaports, airports and border stations. The terrorists, in turn, can be expected to choose the path that gives them the best chance to carry out an attack.

3.  Got radioactivity? Detectors being installed at Port Angeles port of entry (Peninsula Daily News)
Six devices that detect small traces of radiation will go online at the MV Coho ferry landing in Port Angeles during the second week of July. The yellow machines, which are in place alongside the vehicle lanes at the Customs port of entry, only have the capability to pick up radiation emitted from a vehicle, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman chief Tom Schreiber. “They are passive radiation detective devices,” he said. “It’s not an X-ray type thing.” Schreiber said the machines are safe and don’t use any radiation themselves. He said they will pick up any radioactive material, such as coming from some sort of weapon or bomb — as well as, possibily, from certain types of medical treatments, rocks or older compasses. Pacific Northwest National Laboratories began installing the yellow machines on May 26 under a $400,000 contract. Costs of the machines were unavailable.

4.  DHS infrastructure unit hiring 621 more workers (Federal Computer Week)
The Homeland Security Department’s infrastructure protection division has hired 300 people in the last year and is looking for 621 new employees in the next 18 months as it seeks to “right-size” its federal and contracting workforces, the division’s director has told a congressional panel. “It is my personal belief that organizations succeed or fail based on the people that they have. Therefore, that takes the majority of my time,” Philip Reitinger, deputy undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (PPD) told the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee on June 10. “We are making efforts to, as you said, right-size the contractor workforce so that we build up our government personnel capabilities, create expertise in government, and use contractors appropriately for the roles for which they are best suited,” Reitinger said.

5.  ICE to slip FPS to NPPD (Gov’t Security News)
Some 1,225 positions that are currently part of DHS’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be transferred to DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), under changes contemplated in the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2010 budget request. Those positions are in the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which will be moved under the NPPD umbrella. “The proposed transfer aligns the FPS mission of Federal facilities infrastructure protection within the NPPD mission of critical infrastructure protection,” Philip Reitinger, deputy under secretary, NPPD, told a June 10 meeting of House Committee on Homeland Security’s transportation security and infrastructure protection subcommittee. “Further, NPPD chairs the operations of the Interagency Security Committee, a group that includes the physical security leads for all major Federal agencies and whose key responsibility is the establishment of Government-wide security policies for Federal facilities. These missions are complementary and mutually supportive, and the alignment resulting from the transfer improves and advances the mission effectiveness of both FPS and NPPD.”

6.  Trail to Air France wreckage started back in Portsmouth (The Virginian-Pilot)
Soon after Air France Flight 447 went down the night of May 31, Brazilian and French teams began combing vast sections of the Atlantic Ocean for signs of wreckage and survivors. Behind this high-profile recovery effort, a group of local Coast Guard members has been doing its part with the help of a new simulation program that can look back in time. The call came soon after the Airbus A330-200 went down on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard. Coast Guard members at a research and development center in Groton, Conn., who had been in touch with their international partners, wanted to know whether the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Portsmouth might be able to use its new software to aid the effort. The center had begun using the reverse drift modeling program just weeks before.

7.  W. Covina Muslim, Seyed Mousavi, jailed after spies infiltrate mosque
(Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)
A Diamond Bar man is being held in a secretive federal prison and his family believes he was targeted for investigation by authorities because of his faith. Seyed Mousavi, 51, was convicted of filing false tax returns, omitting information on naturalization forms and violating an economic embargo against Iran, officials said. He is being held in a Communication Management Unit (CMU) in Indiana and is largely isolated from his family and friends. “This prosecution was a travesty,” said Ron Kaye, an attorney representing Mousavi. “I think he’s innocent of virtually every charge.” Despite a recent speech at Cairo University that was well-received by U.S. Muslims, local Muslim Americans like the Mousavi family said much damage has been done at home by tactics used by the FBI, which included sending spies into mosques.

8.  Funding bill targets DHS data center problems (Federal Computer Week)
The House Appropriations Committee agreed today to give the Homeland Security Department (DHS) $20 million in fiscal 2010 for the department’s program to consolidate its many data centers, considerably less than the $200 million that the Obama administration had requested for the program. DHS officials have said the consolidation of component agencies’ resources into two departmentwide data centers would improve efficiency, security and disaster recovery. However, members of the appropriations committee agreed to a budget measure that would delay those plans in light of a recent report from DHS’ inspector general that identified a series of problems and vulnerabilities with the consolidation program. Under the committee’s spending plan, DHS’ office of the chief information officer would get $20 million for the program in fiscal 2010, compared to the $58.8 million President Barack Obama requested. Meanwhile other agencies in DHS wouldn’t get money for their portion of the migration effort.

9.  House Committee Passes Libel Tourism Bill – Bill Prohibits ‘Recognition, Enforcement Of Foreign Defamation Judgments’ (Multichannel News)
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Thursday that would block so-called libel tourism, according to its sponsor. Libel tourism is the practice of suing U.S. journalists in foreign courts, where there is less press freedom than they are afforded by the First Amendment in the U.S. While it is primarily a print issue, the Islamic Society of Boston sued both the Boston Herald and a local Fox TV station in 2006 for alleging its ties with terrorism. It eventually dropped the case. “I believe our First Amendment rights to be among the most sacred principles laid out in the Constitution, and I will use all of my powers as a Congressman and member of the Judiciary Committee to ensure that these rights are never undermined by foreign judgments,” said bill sponsor Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee Thursday in announcing its passage in the committee.

10.  Judge Tosses Telecom Spy Suits (Wired News)
A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed lawsuits targeting the nation’s telecommunication companies for their participation in President George W. Bush’s once-secret electronic eavesdropping program. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker upheld summer legislation protecting the companies from the lawsuits. The legislation, which then-Sen. Barack Obama voted for, also granted the government the authority to monitor American’s telecommunications without warrants if the subject was communicating with somebody overseas suspected of terrorism. Bush acknowledged the so-called Terror Surveillance Program in December 2005, and claimed as chief executive, his war powers gave him the authority to spy without court authorization.

11.  County planning officials OK Saudi Academy plan (AP)
Planning officials have approved a proposal to expand an Islamic school with close ties to the Saudi government in northern Virginia. The Fairfax County Planning Commission gave its OK on Thursday. The Islamic Saudi Academy is looking to expand its Popes Head Road campus in Fairfax, which could allow about 200 new students on the 34-acre site. The planning commission received numerous e-mails and letters on the issue. Several residents in the area expressed concerns about potential traffic problems. Others pointed to controversies surrounding the school, such as allegations that its textbooks promoted intolerance. The school has said it revised the textbooks. County supervisors have the final say on whether the expansion could go forward.

12.  Out of Guantánamo, Uighurs Bask in Bermuda (NY Times)
Almost exactly seven years after arriving at Guantánamo in chains as accused enemy combatants, and four days after their surprise predawn flight to Bermuda, four Uighur Muslim men basked in their new-found freedom here, grateful for the handshakes many residents had offered and marveling at the serene beauty of this tidy, postcard island. In newly purchased polo shirts and chinos, the four husky men, members of a restive ethnic minority from western China, might blend in except for their scruffy beards. Smelling hibiscus flowers, luxuriating in the freedom to drift through scenic streets and harbors, they expressed wonder at their good fortune in landing here after a captivity that included more than a year in solitary confinement. “I went swimming in the ocean for the first time ever yesterday, and it was the happiest day of my life,” said Salahidin Abdulahat, 32. Over a lunch of fish and chips on Sunday, they praised Bermuda for showing courage in the face of potential Chinese pressures that, in their view, powerful European countries had failed to muster.

13.  France: New secular Muslim federation (Islam in Europe)
Marouane Bouloudhnine, a doctor from Nice, launched last week a secular French Muslim organization. He rejects the label of ‘the Muslim CRIF’ (French Jewish umbrella organization), since he says they’re mature enough not to copy from others. Bouloudhnine represents UMP on the city council and in 2007 co-founded the Judeo-Muslim Friendship in the Alpes-Maritimes association. The new federation created by Bouloudhnine and five others is called “Mosaic”, secular federation for Muslim citizens, and was registered earlier this year, though Bouloudhnine says they’ve been working on it for two and a half years. In 2007 they launched a federation in the PACA region (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur). The goal of the new association is to create a secular and Republican institutional framework to represent the silent majority who want to assert their identity which has been taken over by a minority. The vast majority of French Muslims reject being forced to choose between the loss of identity and being all-religious. According to Bouloudhnine, if there would be no such secular framework, nobody but the extremists will talk in five years.

14.  Mayhem in Iran (Israel National News)
Violence is spreading in Iran as protestors take to the streets following the government’s announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated reform candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi by a 2-1 margin. Moussavi and his backers have accused the government of rigging the election results. Helmeted policemen armed with clubs have confiscated cameras, and the government has blocked SMS messaging and Internet, but has not been able to stop reports by Twitter, a social messaging system. Several foreign news agencies said their reporters were beaten by police. ABC News photographed a street demonstration with a cellular phone after its cameras were confiscated.

15.  Iran: Ahmadinejad win could signal weakening of Supreme Leader (AKI)
The re-election of Iran’s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could show Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has a weaker grip on the country’s powerful military force or Revolutionary Guards than previously thought, according to a United States expert. “The Revolutionary Guards give Ahmadinejad much of his support in government,” Judith S. Yaphe, a researcher from the Washington-based United States Institute for National Strategic Studies, told Adnkronos International (AKI). Iran’s interior ministry declared Ahmadinejad the victor in the presidential election just hours after the first round of voting last Friday, she noted. According to normal procedure, the result of the polls would not have been declared until Sunday when they had been validated by Iran’s powerful Guardian Council electoral watchdog. “They announced the result before all votes could possibly have been counted,” Yaphe emphasised. “Iran’s military-defence establishment may have felt threatened by Ahmadinejad’s possible electoral loss,” she said.

16.  Bangladesh seeks US support for border security (New Age – Dhaka)
Bangladesh on Sunday sought assistance from the United States in enhancing its border security and in its trial of war crimes. The home minister, Sahara Khatun, made the appeal at a meeting with the US assistant secretary of the state for South and Central Asian affairs, Robert O Blake, in her office in the secretariat on Sunday. ‘We have had fruitful discussions on issues of bilateral interests and sought support from the US government in our efforts to conduct war crimes trial and to safeguard our border,’ Sahara told reporters after the half-an-hour meeting with the senior US state department official. The home minister said the US assistant secretary of state gave assurance of his government’s support in the trial of war crimes and also in strengthening the country’s border security. The United States will also provide assistance regarding global anti-terrorism issues, she said, without giving details of the US support in the areas. ‘We expect the US government would train more personnel of our police, RAB and Ansars to improve their efficiency. The US government has also wanted to extend its support for institutionalising the community police,’ Sahara said.

17.  Pakistan: Zardari appeals for urgent support (AKI)
Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to the international community for its support in the country’s fight against terrorism. Zardari is currently in Russia for the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to ask for support from member countries and express interest in the organisation. The SCO is an intergovernmental security organisation founded in 2001 between Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. “This is a challenge of our times and a challenge for the world,” Zardari said in an interview with Russia’s English-language news agency Russia Today. “We have two wars. One is physical one against militants, other is to look after the internally displaced people. The world has to come forward to support us.” Zardari stressed that the Pakistani people supported the government’s action against the Taliban in order to protect democracy.

18.  Yemen denies Guantanamo inmates heading to Saudi (AP)
Yemen on Sunday denied reports that it has agreed to a U.S. proposal to transfer almost 100 Yemeni inmates at Guantanamo Bay prison to terrorist rehabilitation centers in Saudi Arabia. The statement comes days after U.S. officials said they were close to a deal with the two countries. The Yemenis make up the largest national group among the remaining Guantanamo detainees, and determining their fate is key to President Barack Obama’s plan to close the prison. Yemen’s Foreign Ministry said the country was still discussing with the U.S. the possibility of transferring the detainees back home. It issued a statement saying the country “denies media reports about the transfer of Yemeni detainees from the prison at Guantanamo to rehabilitation centers in Saudi Arabia.” A Saudi official declined comment Sunday, saying the issue concerns Yemen only.

19.  Pirate Threat Grows in Gulf – Attack Near Oman Shows Bandits Are Expanding Their Reach (Wall Street Journal)
Pirates commandeered a cargo ship in the territorial waters of Oman, dramatically extending their area of operation and threatening for the first time shipping in and out of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The hijacking, reported over the weekend, took place Friday. It follows another failed attack nearby earlier last week. A fleet of international naval vessels assembled to combat a surge in pirate attacks around the Horn of Africa may be driving pirates further afield, navy officials said. Seasonally bad weather may also be pushing pirates northward. Pirate attacks started soaring last summer in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Africa, boosting insurance and shipping rates in the region. Pirates have attacked oil and petrochemical carriers, including a fully laden Saudi Arabian oil tanker that was released after a ransom payment.

20.  In New Video, Al-Qaeda’s Adam Gadahn Discusses His Jewish Roots, Lays Out Al-Qaeda’s Approach to Palestine, Says Obama’s Overtures to Muslim World Reminiscent of Netanyahu (MEMRI)
In a new video posted on jihadist websites titled “Let’s Continue Our Jihad and Sacrifice,” Adam Gadahn, an American Al-Qaeda member close to the organization’s leadership, addresses the Muslim nation and discusses the Gaza war and its implications. In the video, which was produced by Al-Qaeda’s media division Al-Sahab and was posted on June 13, 2009, Gadahn is shown speaking in Arabic, with English subtitles provided. (Translations in this report are based on the Arabic and vary slightly from the Al-Sahab translation.) Based on the Muslim month listed in the credits, the video appears to have been produced approximately two months ago.

21.  Israel suffered massive cyber attack during Gaza offensive (Ha’aretz)
Hackers launched an unprecedented attack on Israel’s Internet infrastructure during the January military offensive in the Gaza Strip, and briefly paralyzed government sites, government officials said last week. The attack, which focused on government Web sites, was executed by at least half a million computers. Due to its resemblance to the attack launched on Georgia on the eve of its war with Russia last summer, Israeli officials believe it may have been carried out by a criminal organization from the former Soviet Union, and paid for by Hamas or Hezbollah. Tehila, the body that manages the government’s Web sites, managed to protect Israel’s cyber infrastructure and fix most sites within 5 to 20 minutes, an official said. But the Home Front Command’s site, which instructs citizens how to protect themselves from attacks, was down for three hours, according to a senior official at command headquarters. The IDF Spokesman said service was suspended for only half an hour.

Commentary / Analysis

1.  Michael Rubin: The Obama Effect? Iran’s election result proves the US formula in the Middle East is not working (NY Daily News)

2.  Winston Smithson: RCMP Outreach Follies? (IPT News)

3.  Douglas Farah: Rep. Wolf Takes on CAIR, and A US-MB Tie to Hamas (CT Blog)


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