J. Michael McConnell's Annual Threat Assessment

J. Michael McConnell, the US Director of National Intelligence has released his Annual Threat Assessment to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. John Bolton wrote in the Wall Street Journal today that McConnell would need to explain the highly politicized National Intelligence Estimate from a few months ago. In fact, Bolton calls on him to repair the damage that NIE caused to the intelligence process let alone Bush's foreign policy.

I'll give the 47-page report a read when I get a spare moment, right now I don't have one.


Some important quotes:

Al-Qa’ida and its terrorist affiliates continue to pose significant threats to the United States at home and abroad, and al-Qa’ida’s central leadership based in the border area of Pakistan is its most dangerous component.

The summary:

We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets designed to produce mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the population.

Iran, and the NIE:

We assess in our recent NIE on this subject that warhead design and weaponization were halted, along with covert military uranium conversion- and enrichment-related activities. Declared uranium enrichment efforts, which will enable the production of fissile material, continue. This is the most difficult challenge in nuclear production. Iran’s efforts to perfect ballistic missiles that can reach North Africa and Europe also continue.

That doesn't seem so rosy to me.

When it comes to our technology infrastructure:

Our information infrastructure—including the internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries—increasingly is being targeted for exploitation and potentially for disruption or destruction, by a growing array of state and non-state adversaries. Over the past year, cyber exploitation activity has grown more sophisticated, more targeted, and more serious. The Intelligence Community expects these trends to continue in the coming year.


Access to stable and affordably priced energy supplies has long been a critical element of national security. Sustained increases in global demand and the interactive effects of energy with other issues have both magnified and broadened the significance of developments in the global energy system. Oil prices in late 2007 were near record levels and global spare production capacity is below the market’s preferred cushion of 3 to 4 million barrels per day (b/d).

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Tuesday, Feb 5 2008 10:06 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

Terrorism and Immigration Can Be Related?

Whether or not you agree with the current policy of letting only a few people a year visit the country or move here permanently, investigating US employees that help members of known terror groups get into the country would seem to be the highest priority of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, as the Washington Times reports, most reports of such incidents are not investigated “due to a lack of resources.”

Reported problems include the following:

Employees are sharing detailed information on internal security measures with people outside the agency.
A Lebanese citizen bribed an immigration officer with airline tickets for visa benefits.
A USCIS officer in Harlington, Texas, sold immigration documents for $10,000 to as many as 20 people.

USCIS does seem to be trying to build an organization to investigate such reports, but it has been slow in coming.

Scary stuff, but it does seem to be a case of broken priorities. There already exists a $2B organization to handle immigration, and incidents like the above should be far more important for it to deal with than other items.

Josh Poulson

Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Wednesday, Aug 15 2007 01:35 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

July 17, 2007 National Intelligence Estimate

Already the press is interpreting the National Intelligence Estimate released today, let's look at what's in it. I'll jump straight to the “Key Judgments” section.

We judge the US Homeland will face a persistent and evolving terrorist threat over the next three years. The main threat comes from Islamic terrorist groups and cells, especially al-Qa’ida, driven by their undiminished intent to attack the Homeland and a continued effort by these terrorist groups to adapt and improve their capabilities.

No surprise here. The terrorist threat has not gone away.

We assess that greatly increased worldwide counterterrorism efforts over the past five years have constrained the ability of al-Qa’ida to attack the US Homeland again and have led terrorist groups to perceive the Homeland as a harder target to strike than on 9/11. These measures have helped disrupt known plots against the United States since 9/11.
  • We are concerned, however, that this level of international cooperation may wane as 9/11 becomes a more distant memory and perceptions of the threat diverge.

    This item is not likely to get a lot of press. We have been successful in stopping attacks against the homeland and there is a danger of complacency.

    Al-Qa’ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. Although we have discovered only a handful of individuals in the United States with ties to al-Qa’ida senior leadership since 9/11, we judge that al-Qa’ida will intensify its efforts to put operatives here.
    • As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment.

    As expected, al-Qa’ida remains our biggest threat and continues to find safe havens in the Middle East. Interesting to see Pakistan called out directly, but not bases in Iran and Saudi Arabian funding.

    We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.
    We assess that al-Qa’ida’s Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets with the goal of producing mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the US population. The group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices, and is innovative in creating new capabilities and overcoming security obstacles.
    • We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to try to acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks and would not hesitate to use them if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.

    AQI has become a significant subsidiary unit of AQ. Any presence in the Middle East is always going to be a lightning rod for fanatic elements. Better that we fight them with prepared units than face attacks on unprepared people here, in my opinion. While NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) threats are listed here, the likelihood of small arms and improvised explosives is greater (far less operational security issues).

    We assess Lebanese Hizballah, which has conducted anti-US attacks outside the United States in the past, may be more likely to consider attacking the Homeland over the next three years if it perceives the United States as posing a direct threat to the group or Iran.

    Hizballah is an emerging threat probably due to the pressure we've been exerting on Iran.

    We assess that the spread of radical—especially Salafi—Internet sites, increasingly aggressive anti-US rhetoric and actions, and the growing number of radical, self-generating cells in Western countries indicate that the radical and violent segment of the West’s Muslim population is expanding, including in the United States. The arrest and prosecution by US law enforcement of a small number of violent Islamic extremists inside the United States—who are becoming more connected ideologically, virtually, and/or in a physical sense to the global extremist movement—points to the possibility that others may become sufficiently radicalized that they will view the use of violence here as legitimate. We assess that this internal Muslim terrorist threat is not likely to be as severe as it is in Europe, however.

    Our first hint of Information Age problems, more below.

    We assess that other, non-Muslim terrorist groups—often referred to as “single-issue” groups by the FBI—probably will conduct attacks over the next three years given their violent histories, but we assess this violence is likely to be on a small scale.

    A little bit of a catch-all indicating that other threats of terrorism are out there, but from smaller groups.

    We assess that globalization trends and recent technological advances will continue to enable even small numbers of alienated people to find and connect with one another, justify and intensify their anger, and mobilize resources to attack—all without requiring a centralized terrorist organization, training camp, or leader.
    • The ability to detect broader and more diverse terrorist plotting in this environment will challenge current US defensive efforts and the tools we use to detect and disrupt plots. It will also require greater understanding of how suspect activities at the local level relate to strategic threat information and how best to identify indicators of terrorist activity in the midst of legitimate interactions.

      We are having problems dealing with the free flow of information on the Internet facilitating the coordination of terrorist activities. This is hardly new. The technology race has always led to problems. Continuous solutions to the asymmetrical warfare problem produce a stream of new of technologies (increased rate of fire, convenient improvised explosives, etc.) beyond simple communications improvements.

      The goal should always be to make choosing the tactic of terrorism so abhorrent that no one would select it. It's clear there are some elements that believe that terrorist is attractive and we must continue to suppress it. My fear is that there are those who believe appeasement is a tactic of anti-terrorism.

      We'll see what the uproar over this intelligent estimate will produce.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Tuesday, Jul 17 2007 08:11 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Taepo Dong Range Graphic

      When I first saw this image on Michelle Malkin's blog, I first looked for my house.


      Then I looked for Iraq. If Kim Jong Il really wanted to screw things up he'd “strike a blow to free Iraq.” I really don't like that idea.

      Enough people are afraid North Korea will sell their nukes to the terrorists that they've already imagined the insurgents blowing up something in Iraq, or Hamas/Hezbollah doing something similar in Israel, but “Lil'Kim” is enough of a narcissist to do it himself.

      Or imagine him hitting Iran and blaming it on us or the Israelis. How many would believe we did it instead of him?

      It's been a rough day.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Oct 9 2006 02:20 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Thailand Coup

      Thai military officials loyal to King Adulyadej have seized power in a coup in Thailand. This is not the first we've heard of trouble in Thailand this year:

      Massive rallies earlier this year forced Thaksin to dissolve Parliament and call an election in April, three years ahead of schedule. The poll was boycotted by opposition parties and later annulled by Thailand's top courts, leaving the country without a working legislature.

      Prime Minister Thaksin is central to the conflagration:

      Opposition to Thaksin gained momentum in January when his family announced it had sold its controlling stake in telecommunications company Shin Corp. to Singapore's state-owned Temasek Holdings for a tax-free $1.9 billion. Critics allege the sale involved insider trading and complain a key national asset is now in foreign hands.
      Thaksin also has been accused of stifling the media and mishandling a Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand that flared under his rule.

      The Muslim unrest in southern Thailand is especially concerning because of long-standing friction between them and the Buddhists, who control the government. Coups and other non-democratic means of government tend to foster civil war. Will there be two Thailands in the world's future? globalsecurity.org is especially dour on conditions in the south:

      Historically, this region, consisting of the provinces of Satun, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, has served as a dumping ground for corrupt and/or incompetent civilian and military officials. This has been further aggravated by the population's ethnic make-up, predominantly Thai Muslims, which has produced a major degree of alienation intensified by government misadministration. Additionally, daily life there, particularly in urban areas, is continually plagued by a higher level of common banditry and lawlessness, more so than in the kingdom's other regions, making it very difficult for authorities to differentiate between criminal lawlessness and terrorist acts commissioned by domestic Thai terrorist or Muslim Separatist groups.

      You may ask yourself what else is down there in the southern part of Asia with strong Muslim influences? Next door in Malaysia is Kuala Lampur and Singapore. Also there's the strongly Muslim island nation of Indonesia.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Sep 19 2006 09:53 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      September 11, 2006

      Many are posting retrospectives and memorials about the terrorist attack five years ago. I do not need to rehash what happened, but I may as well indicate how I feel about it all. I wrote the following two years ago, and it still applies to how I feel about 9/11.

      A lot of blogs are remembering 9/11 today. I suppose I should do my part.

      I awoke to a phone call on 9/11/01, a little after 6am. The gal on the phone was telling me that a jet plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was still trying to wake up when I heard her exclamations on the phone as the second plane crashed into the south tower. It was an agonizing experience.

      I watched a little of what I could find on the web. I didn't have cable service at home. At that point I had given up television for a couple years already. I wandered into work where I found out about the third crash at the Pentagon.

      It was an eerie time. Internet news sites were slammed and very little information was available. The weird story of the fourth flight took hours to play out. Rumors flew fast and furious.

      However, my most painful moment related to 9/11 was hearing, a lot later, the tape of the stewardess on the second plane talking on her cell phone as they went into the south tower.

      I don't like reality shows where people get hurt. I'm too empathetic. I absolutely hated that tape. I didn't like watching video of people jumping from the towers.

      Two and a half years later I got the 9/11 Commission Report from audible.com and listened to it on the drive to and from work. Even in two-hour-a-day chunks, parts of the report are hard to listen to. Recounting the story of people falling from the building and emergency workers dodging these people as they tried to escape the doomed buildings were particularly hard for me.

      9/11 has been referred to as a day of reverence, or reflection, or anger, or other emotions. For me it is a reminder of the need for proactive, not reactive, measures to handle our own safety.

      In real life I work on building software products. Proactive rather than reactive measures rule the day there as well. Even so, most of the engineers around me support Kerry/Edwards. It appalls me that to them the proactive measure of fighting an enemy before he can effectively deliver his blows is “aggression.”

      To me it is getting inside the enemy's OODA loop.

      This enemy declared war against us a long long time ago. It took nearly three thousand deaths for us to react.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Sep 11 2006 06:36 AM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

      Terrorists As Pirates

      According to Douglas R. Burgess Jr. at Legal Affairs, it can be justified that today's terrorists should be treated like yesteryear's pirates:

      Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, “enemies of the human race.” From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable.

      An especially relevant parallel is that between state-sponsored piracy (letters of marque and reprisal) and state-sponsored terrorism (such as Hezbollah). This reminds me of the first American president to invade another country—and the nation's first Democrat—Thomas Jefferson.

      Jefferson, facing the lack of British Navy support for American trade in the Mediterranean and looking with some distaste at the tribute paid to the Barbary States (and ransom paid for captured American crewmen), first sought to create an international coalition to fight the pirates (stymied by France), then finally fought an unpopular war in against Tripoli. In yet another interesting parallel, the war was ended by treaty just before forcing regime change in Tripoli, and another war had to be fought ten years later. (source)

      There are still pirates today, but terrorism has replaced it as a source of hostis humani generis. Perhaps the piracy precedent should be applied to them:

      All states were equally obligated to stamp out this menace, whether or not they had been a victim of piracy. This was codified explicitly in the 1856 Declaration of Paris, and it has been reiterated as a guiding principle of piracy law ever since. Ironically, it is the very effectiveness of this criminalization that has marginalized piracy and made it seem an arcane and almost romantic offense. Pirates no longer terrorize the seas because a concerted effort among the European states in the 19th century almost eradicated them. It is just such a concerted effort that all states must now undertake against terrorists, until the crime of terrorism becomes as remote and obsolete as piracy.


      If the war on terror becomes akin to war against the pirates, however, the situation would change. First, the crime of terrorism would be defined and proscribed internationally, and terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states. This legal status carries significant advantages, chief among them the possibility of universal jurisdiction. Terrorists, as hostis humani generis, could be captured wherever they were found, by anyone who found them. Pirates are currently the only form of criminals subject to this special jurisdiction.
      Second, this definition would deter states from harboring terrorists on the grounds that they are “freedom fighters” by providing an objective distinction in law between legitimate insurgency and outright terrorism. This same objective definition could, conversely, also deter states from cracking down on political dissidents as “terrorists,” as both Russia and China have done against their dissidents.
      Third, and perhaps most important, nations that now balk at assisting the United States in the war on terror might have fewer reservations if terrorism were defined as an international crime that could be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.

      So, the question remains as to whether the current administration can be influenced to push down this path. We've had inconsistent results gathering coalitions, but defining terrorists as the enemies of all states and requiring by treaty that every member state to enforce their capture and prosecution may have an effect.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Aug 30 2006 07:42 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Weapons of Choice

      The real “weapon of choice” of terrorists is TATP, not so-called Assault Weapons, Saturday Night Specials, or the infamous .50 BMG.

      TATP is a powerful and compact explosive, recently in the news with the terror plot to blow up several planes with liquid explosive in energy drink cans, but also under the feet of shoe bomber Reichard Reid and the Madrid Train Bombers.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Guns, Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 10 2006 03:17 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Incredible Video of Rocket Attack In Haifa

      These guys were videotaping a report of a previous rocket attack in Haifa when another attack starts. It's an amazing video.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Jul 24 2006 10:46 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Arthur Herman on Why India Was Hit

      In today's Wall Street Journal Arthur Herman speculates as to why India was hit with a terrorist train bombing:

      The real reason India was targeted was because it has transformed itself from a Third World country into a modern economic power, complete with Western-style freedoms. This is precisely what radical Islam most loathes and fears. If the rest of the Third World, especially Muslim countries, learn how to be like India; if they decide to become part of the global order, and learn how to produce wealth on a Western scale and enjoy Western freedoms, including freedom for women, and begin to build pluralist open societies, then the Islamists' dreams of power and domination are dead.

      I can understand the Islamic Fundamentalist feeling of sour grapes. India, despite its recent flirtation with censorship of blogs offending Islamists, has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of freedom and economy, joined the nuclear club, and gets respect from all over the globe.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Jul 20 2006 08:45 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Evacuating Lebanon by Cruise Ship

      The United States has 25,000 citizens in war-torn Lebanon and plans to evacuate them by cruise ship (hat tip to The Washington Note):

      BEIRUT, Lebanon—A cruise ship escorted by a U.S. destroyer will start evacuating some Americans from war-torn Lebanon as early as Tuesday and more military helicopters will be used to fly others directly to Cyprus, a U.S. official said Monday. Israel appeared to be allowing evacuation ships through its blockade of the country.

      Later in the article the Pentagon indicates the Orient Queen, which usually carries 750 passengers, will do the heavy lifting, directly protected by a destroyer and our nearby fleet.

      Being protected by a destroyer and a aircraft carrier notwithstanding, isn't a cruise ship a big juicy target for terrorists? Not anymore than usual, perhaps, and Hezbollah probably doesn't want direct involvement of the United States in Lebanon, but it does give me a bad feeling. Al Quaeda thrives on destabilizing situations, committing acts of mass murder, and hoping any response from the U.S. will turn Islamic opinion against us.

      However, one has to see the point. A cruise ship can carry a lot more people than planes and smaller craft can. 25,000 is a big number.

      July 18 Update: The Pentagon has ordered five US warships into the area for escort duty, but the cruise ship itself was stopped at the Israeli blockade.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Cruising, Politics, Terrorism” Monday, Jul 17 2006 10:07 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Bombay Bombings


      A little over a year from the London bombings on 7/7/05 we have seven commuter train bombings in Bombay, India.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Jul 11 2006 08:29 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Zarqawi And Muhammad Die On The Same Day

      Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been killed in a bombing raid north of Bagdad. Plenty of other bloggers and news outlets have said a bunch about this, but I want to point out that I'm sure the Al Qaeda big thinkers will pick up on the fact that he was killed the same day Muhammad died in 632 and claim Super-Duper-Martyr status for this terror leader.

      Apologists for Islamic Terrorism will, of course, question the timing.

      Update: A statement has come from the newest terror leader in Iraq…

      The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme…

      But he didn't pick up on the coincidence, or perhaps the irony, of this statement.

      Update: So Zarqawi died the day before Muhammad did (see the comments). Does this mean he's a day short of being a real prophet?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Jun 8 2006 07:22 AM  |  Permalink  |  3 comments  |  No trackbacks

      Toronto 17

      We have been watching with some interest the developing story about 17 terrorists rounded up in Toronto.

      Michelle Malkin notes that most of them are young, Muslim males, with two middle-aged ones thrown in for diversity (or, perhaps, leadership). Hot Air is aggregating tons of links here and here. Wizbang has a good round-up as well here.

      The latest avenues of inquiry include the three (Imperial) tons of ammonium nitrate seized, the imminence of the attack, and whether arrests have been made in other countries. Already links have been made to previous arrests and attacks, for example this paragraph from a Washington Post:

      Canadian reports said the raids were the consequence of the arrests by the FBI of two Georgia men in April. At the time, the FBI announced the two men had met with others in Toronto to plan attacks.

      This one is obviously developing.

      Update: So, it was a sting operation where the RCMP delivered the ammonium nitrate themselves. Also, the police determined these folks were a threat based on their phone calls and Internet surfing. Send in the ACLU!

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Jun 4 2006 09:32 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Zacarias Moussaoui Gets Life For Coldly Planning Death

      Zacarias Moussaoui, the supposed “nineteenth hijacker,” was apparently not deadly enough for knowing the plans to kills thousands and not revealing those plans to the FBI when he was arrested for immigration violations. Not enough the jury was convinced that he intended to hide everything of the plot possible, but instead that he was enough of an idiot not to really know what was going on. Therefore he earned life in prison, not death. This is going to cost the US a bundle, but we keep our moral law intact.

      C'est la guerre.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, May 3 2006 01:57 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Mustafa Setmarian Nasar

      Another terror trainer, Mustafa Setmarian Nasar (also known as Abu Musab al-Suri), has been captured in Pakistan. It appears he may have been nabbed and questioned some time ago, so perhaps we didn't do our normal habit of ruining a source of intelligence by releasing the information that we have it. Even so, there's no indication that he has been cooperating.

      Nasaar is a direct link to recent attacks in Europe:

      Media reports have linked Nasar, who holds Spanish citizenship, to the 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people, and to the July 7, 2005 attacks in London that left 56 dead, including the four bombers.

      I suspect for Europe Nasar's arrest is very good news indeed. It would be interesting to see if a very public trial of Nasar in Spain would change that country's flight from the global war on terror. Nasar has had some history in Spain. He has Spanish citizenship, and is wanted for Islamic terrorist incidents there going back to 1985.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, May 2 2006 07:11 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Gonzales States the Obvious

      US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has submitted a piece titled “America Expects Surveillance” to the Wall Street Journal supporting the use of eavesdropping on suspected Al Quaeda members:

      The president, as commander in chief, has asserted his authority to use sophisticated military drones to search for Osama bin Laden, to deploy our armed forces in combat zones, and to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives around the world. No one would dispute that the AUMF supports the president in each of these actions.
      It is, therefore, inconceivable that the AUMF does not also support the president's efforts to intercept the communications of our enemies. Any future al Qaeda attacks on the homeland are likely to be carried out, like Sept. 11, by operatives hiding among us. The NSA terrorist surveillance program is a military operation designed to detect them quickly. Efforts to identify the terrorists and their plans expeditiously while ensuring faithful adherence to the Constitution and our existing laws is precisely what America expects from the president.

      This is certainly a “Well, duh!” kind of issue, as I've pointed out many times before. It all boils down to this:

      The AUMF is not a blank check for the president to cash at the expense of the rights of citizens. The NSA's terrorist surveillance program is narrowly focused on the international communications of persons believed to be members or agents of al Qaeda or affiliated terrorist organizations.

      If it was all communications of those suspected to be involved with Al Quaeda, I'd be far more worried, but because the communications are to those outside of the country, the use of the NSA facilities and the lack of warrants makes plenty of sense. Can we move on from this now?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Monday, Feb 6 2006 06:54 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Hamas Wins

      Hamas has apparently done well in yesterday's elections in Palestine, winning 76 seats in the 132-member parliament. Hamas has run on a platform of armed conflict, no peace negotiations, and no recognition for the state of Israel.

      Fatah, the old party in power, only won 43 seats. Fatah had supported a cease fire and peace negotiations with Israel.

      Hamas has deep ties with terrorist organizations in Palestine, and the elections results do not bode well for improving stability in the region.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Thursday, Jan 26 2006 11:40 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Osama Bin Laden Offers Threats, Truce

      Coming on the heels of an allied attack in Pakistan targeted at Al Quaeda “No. 2” Ayman al-Zawahiri (and possibly successfully killing Mustafa Usman, Khalid Habib, and other high-ranking lieutenants), segments of an audiotape aired on Al Jazeera bring us some bravado and threats from Osama Bin Laden, as reported by Fox News:

      Our people are able to infiltrate through your security measures no matter how strong.

      Any complex system is vulnerable to breaches, and the security measures for entire borders of countries or for delivering small bombs into major metropolitan cities are clearly complex. However, we've caught a lot of people trying, so we are consuming Al Quaeda people and money in the process.

      As for the delay in similar operations in America is not because of your security measures; operations are being prepared and you will see them in your homes.

      It always makes you look better to say you have huge plans afoot than to say you've had a divided focus. This “veiled fist” negotiation technique hasn't exactly worked for him in the past. Even when his attacks are successful, they don't seem to be moving the world to adopting Sharia (Islamic Law) or kicking the allies out of the Middle East.

      Oddly, he also offers a truce:

      We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to… We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America.

      He also demonstrated his abillity to pick up anti-current-strategy talking points from the mainstream media:

      Reality shows that the war on America and its allies is no longer limited to Iraq as he claims, on the contrary Iraq has become a magnetic point for qualified powers and the Mujahideen have been able time after time to breach all the security measures set by coalition countries and the evidence is the bombings you have seen in some major European capitals of this coalition.

      Well, sure, it is very hard to have effective security measures and a free country simultaneously, and our terrorist mastermind understands this. Terrorism is a battle of wills, and he is resolved to break down our willpower with withering, relentless attacks. In this sense he has been losing, as worldwide attacks were clearly not forthcoming, and many attacks have been stopped. It has taken significant resources to effect relentless attacks in Iraq, and those resources cannot be used elsewhere once they are consumed. Other attacks have occured, most notably in London and Barcelona as he points out. The Spanish attack changed a government, a giant victory for Al Quaeda. The English attack did not.

      What worries me about the plan to draw Al Quaeda into (relatively) open warfare in Iraq is that Al Quaeda survivors are learning something and can either train others or do more spectacular displays. While the armed forces are also learning, they are learning in a completely different environment than the US. If similar operations started here, we'd be hard-pressed to mount a similar response. It takes a large sympathetic, or at least cowed, population to operate openly, however, so as long as there are few (if any) that would offer that much aid and comfort to the enemy, we need only have to deeply fear WMDs and must steel ourselves against “demonstrations” like the plane, train, and bus bombings we have seen outside of the Middle East.

      Update: Add Midhat Mursi/Abu Khabab al-Masri and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi to the list of Al Quaeda lieutenants bombed in Pakistan.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Jan 19 2006 09:05 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Terrorists In Italy Arrested Due To Wiretap Evidence

      NewsMax is carrying a story about 3 Algerian terrorists arrested in Italy who were planning major attacks in the United States. The story highlights the use of wiretap evidence:

      Italian authorities recently announced that they had used wiretaps to uncover the conspiracy to conduct a series of major attacks inside the U.S.

      These attacks were aimed at shipping, railroads, and stadiums. Certainly juicy targets. The NewsMax story indicates that they intended to surpass 9/11 with a series of bombings.

      Italian authorities stepped up their internal surveillance programs after July's terrorist bombings in London. Their domestic wiretaps picked up phone conversations by Algerian Yamine Bouhrama that discussed terrorist attacks in Italy and abroad.
      Italian authorities arrested Bouhrama on November 15 and he remains in prison. Authorities later arrested two other men, Achour Rabah and Tartaq Sami, who are believed to be Bouhrama’s chief aides in planning the attacks.

      They focus on a lack of coverage in the MSM, and allege conspiracy to hide this. A quick look around Google, however, came up with not much media coverage outside of the US either, unless it has already expired off of their radar (these arrests go back to mid-December). There certainly was some coverage, however:

      Could it be that a December 23rd story could disappear from most high volume news sites? The NewsMax article indicates that the Associated Press did have an article, omitting details about the wiretap, but did not include a citation. If anyone has a link to the AP article, please link to it in a comment. I certainly have a low opinion of the AP but I want to see if they really omitted wiretapping from this story or not.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Jan 6 2006 09:23 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


      Mensa Barbie has a great video called “Pallywood” in her article “Media Spoof” about staged violent events and other news manufacturing in Palestine. While it's 35MB and 20 minutes long, it's worth a look.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Dec 29 2005 09:53 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Air Marshal Shoots Claimed Bomber

      A flight arriving from Colombia had a deranged passenger aboard. He claimed to have a bomb in his bag and a Federal Air Marshal shot and subdued him.

      But, deep at the bottom of the Fox News story, was a funny part:

      Homeland Security officials confirmed to FOX News that this is the first time a federal air marshal has discharged his or her weapon since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

      The first time any Air Marshal has discharged his or her weapon in several years? Don't they practice?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Dec 7 2005 12:47 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Louis Freeh on Able Danger

      From today's Wall Street Journal, Louis Freeh (former director of the FBI), comments on Able Danger:

      The Able Danger intelligence, if confirmed, is undoubtedly the most relevant fact of the entire post-9/11 inquiry. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Atta in 2000 is precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists. Yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded that it “was not historically significant.” This astounding conclusion—in combination with the failure to investigate Able Danger and incorporate it into its findings—raises serious challenges to the commission's credibility and, if the facts prove out, might just render the commission historically insignificant itself.

      This is tragic, because I've been advising people to read or listen to the entire 9/11 Commission report for some time now. Whether or not they overlooked this obviously important information, they did put out some information that I hoped was reasonably correct. Instead, it appears to have been a “CYA Commission.”

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Nov 17 2005 12:48 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Able Danger Live-Blogged

      Dr. Sanity live-blogged the Able Danger hearings, and the full transcript is available too.

      Dr. Sanity's later speculation after watching the hearings shows that it's easy to go the full-on “evil senior official” route:

      First, one cannot help but think that the existence of the “Wall” preventing intelligences sharing was a key ingredient in preventing connecting the dots of 9/11. That the main architect of the Wall in both the DoD when she was there; and in the Department of Justice later, on was 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick is pertinent. Was there an attempt on the part of 9/11 Commission members and/or staff to protect one of its members? Were there attempts on the part of members of the Clinton Administration to cover-up this important information (Berger's activities in the National Archives to name one).

      This thing reads like a slow-moving X-Files plot, only in the middle of it all the suspects commit suicide by plowing a four jetliners into 3,000 innocent civilians and then the Department of Defense gets all worried that someone might figure out that they were spying on people that might have been American citizens. Frankly, if the Pentagon was doing a relatively cheap project with public information in order to experiment with applying data mining to terrorism it doesn't really bother me. It' not like they actually appear to have done anything with the information. They never officially shared it with anyone. Some people tried. And, behind the scenes, always in the nexus of information-sharing, looms Jamie Gorelick, being (in a junior lawyerly fashion) far-too-conservative in what is allowed, no matter the value.

      However, if Atta's name came up before 9/11, even if there were a ton of other false positives, I want to know that. I want to understand what restrictions made it impossible for people to openly talk about it in the intelligence community. I want to know that efforts at sharing useful information are easier now. I want to believe we've learned something. I don't want to believe that we are instead covering up efforts that may have been partially useful and would have eventually borne fruit in advance of events.

      Curt Weldon is making a big deal out of this because people don't seem to care. Well, what if only 10 names came up, and Atta and three of his colleagues were in that group? Would that be enough to seriously investigate? Most people would say certainly. What about 100? 1000? At some point it's too expensive to follow-up, and I suspect that was the problem.

      But I still want to know how effective it was.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Sep 21 2005 03:23 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Able Danger: No crucial testimony?

      This morning we find that Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and defense contractor John Smith have been forbidden to testify in today's hearing about Able Danger, the Pentagon data mining operation targeted at discovering terrorists before they strike.

      In his prepared remarks, [attorney Mark] Zaid was ready to say on behalf of Shaffer and contractor John Smith that Able Danger, using data mining techniques, identified four of the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11, 2001—including mastermind Mohamed Atta.

      That is the key testimony, of course. The other important piece is how this information did not get incorporated into the findings of the 9/11 commission. Captain's Quarters indicates that Major (ret.) Eric Klein Smith will be able to testify on that:

      However, Shaffer says that former Major Eric Kleinsmith, now a civilian contractor, will still testify at the panel. Kleinsmith received the orders to destroy the Able Danger database. [Senator Arlen] Specter's insistence that the hearings go forward probably hinges on Kleinsmith's ability to testify to the information that got destroyed, who ordered its destruction, and why. From that point, the committee could unravel an entire command sequence that will uncover how Able Danger got missed by the 9/11 Commission.

      Another potentially illuminating source is Dr. Eileen Pricer, who testified to the Congressional subcommittee on national security. While her testimony has not been released, the Captain did find mention of it in statements by Congressman Christopher Shays:

      Mr. Shays. In a briefing we had yesterday, we had Eileen Pricer, who argues that we don't have the data we need because we don't take all the public data that is available and mix it with the security data. And just taking public data, using, you know, computer systems that are high-speed and able to digest, you know, literally floors' worth of material, she can take relationships that are seven times removed, seven units removed, and when she does that, she ends up with relationships to the bin Laden group where she sees the purchase of chemicals, the sending of students to universities. You wouldn't see it if you isolated it there, but if that unit is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, which is connected to that unit, you then see the relationship. So we don't know ultimately the authenticity of how she does it, but when she does it, she comes up with the kind of answer that you have just asked, which is a little unsettling.

      So, apparently she discussed the methods of Able Danger with a congressional subcommittee a month after 9/11. Now we have a trail what “What did they know and when did they know it?” questions to last us a few election cycles.

      Let's go back to more statements from Zaid:

      On three occasions, Able Danger personnel attempted to provide the FBI with information, but Department of Defense attorneys stopped them because of legal concerns about military-run investigations on U.S. soil, Zaid said in his prepared remarks, encouraging the panel to locate a legal memorandum that he said Defense Department attorneys used to justify stopping the meetings.

      It's hard to absolve the 9/11 Commission of incompetence when they missed the chance to examine pre-9/11 intelligence identifying Atta as a terrorist, especially over procedural matters. Atta may have been here in the states, but he was a foreign national with multiple violations of his visa. It's compelling to think we could have stopped 9/11, but I doubt it. There probably were not enough resources to track every person that Able Danger flagged, and certainly the priorities were different then. Even so, the Commission should have taken them seriously, and investigated the impact of not following up on Able Danger.

      I'm looking forward to what testimony we will hear, today. So far we have a data warehousing expert, the person that destroyed the Able Danger information, and the Congressman that outed the entire affair to the press. There's also a Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott that will testify. Sounds like a good start.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Sep 21 2005 07:01 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      National Archives Releases New Version of 9/11 Report

      Yesterday more 9/11 information was declassified. Misty pointed out an obscure article that mentioned it, otherwise it would have escaped my notice.

      A new version of the “Staff Monograph on the `Four Flights and Civil Avation Security'” is available here.

      This newer version contains less redacted information than the first version released on January 28, 2005.

      There is still redacted material, such as columns in some tables, a quote on page 56, another on 57, a paragraph on 63, etc. There doesn't appear to be a summary of what was released. I'll have to poke through both reports and see what we are now allowed to know. Amusing redacted material includes this paragraph:

      To be listed in a security directive, an individual has to pose a “direct” threat to aviation. In other words…

      The rest of the paragraph was redacted, indicating we shouldn't have a clearer definition of what a “direct” threat to aviation is. Much of the information obscured from us concerns CAPPS policy which, I guess, we don't need to know.

      This worries me because security through obscurity only delays but does not prevent a breach. It also delays (and possibly prevents) experts from helping pro bono. What happened to open security? Perhaps that remains too hard or expensive.

      I wonder if systems could be set up a similar way to CERT, which lets software vendors know about security problems a few months before publicizing those problems to the world. They are a trusted clearinghouse for information on breaches, and they force vendors to react by publicizing every breach they receive, after a suitable waiting period to correct the problem. There does not seem to be a similar system for policymakers.

      Update: Looks like there's coverage in the NYT.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Sep 14 2005 10:07 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Confronting Terrorism IV

      Cox & Forkum have updated their classic political cartoon:


      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Sep 11 2005 09:22 AM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      September 11, 2005

      A year ago I wrote a retrospective on 9/11. It still applies today.

      9/11 has been referred to as a day of reverence, or reflection, or anger, or other emotions. For me it is a reminder of the need for proactive, not reactive, measures to handle our own safety.

      On Wizbang today they are posting entries that correspond to the times of certain events, such as the crashes and the towers collapsing. The one event that did not happen on 9/11, but long before, also needs to be remembered:

      This enemy declared war against us a long long time ago. It took nearly three thousand deaths for us to react.

      I worry today that the constant political bickering has slowed our reaction to the discovery of terrorist plots and our effectiveness at containing them. I guess I have had my role in that bickering, and I admit that emotionally it is more satisfying to do something than do nothing. I just hope it doesn't take another monumental event to ensure efforts to secure freedom for ourselves (and I believe it means securing freedom for others as well).

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Sep 11 2005 08:44 AM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

      Able Danger

      I heard about the Defense Department's “Able Danger” project last night on Victoria Taft's radio show and I'm wondering why I don't see much mention of it in the news sites I read. So far, only Fox News seems to be giving it much space, with two articles.

      The gist is that a data mining project in the Defense Department figured out that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackings, and other hijackers were bad people and here in the country. When this information was brought to the FBI, they refused it and even covered up the picture of Atta under a post-in note because of Jamie Gorelick's interpretation of the needed “wall” between law enforcement and military information sources. Atta was here in the country legally, therefore Gorelick's edict prevented sharing information about him.

      When the Able Danger folks wanted to testify to the 9/11 commission, they were rebuffed. It is a interesting coincidence that Gorelick is also on this commission. As a result, the report of the commission says nothing about Defense's early concerns about Atta.

      Representative Curt Weldon has tried to bring this information to light, only getting attention on it recently:

      In June, Weldon displayed charts on the floor of the U.S. Senate showing that Able Danger identified the suspected terrorists in 1999. The unit repeatedly asked for the information to be forwarded to the FBI but apparently to no avail. Various news outlets picked up on the story this week.
      Weldon told FOX News on Wednesday that staff members of the Sept. 11 commission were briefed at least once by officials on Able Danger, but that he does not believe the message was sent to the panel members themselves. He also said some phone calls made by military officials with Able Danger to the commission staff went unreturned.

      He goes on further:

      According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a cell Able Danger code-named “Brooklyn” because of some loose connections to New York City.
      Weldon said that in September 2000, the unit recommended on three separate occasions that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI “so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists.” However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation, arguing that Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.

      Obviously there is more to investigate here, but it sounds as though we weren't as dumb about terrorism as some thought we were, but we were dmb about how we used our information. As a database person (with a recent foray into open source), it bothers me that we have great tools but poor processes when it comes to dealing with information.

      One again, I strongly recommend reading the entire 9/11 Commission Report. While it may have weaknesses, it is the unanimous opinion of the commission. Other things may be debatable, but I think we can take what they did say to heart.

      I'm sure we'll see more on Able Danger later.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 12 2005 02:42 PM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

      Naeem Noor Khan's Laptop, Again

      Naeem Noor Khan's laptop has cropped up again, this time in relation to the London subway/bus bombings.

      The laptop computer of Naeem Noor Khan, a captured al Qaeda leader, contained plans for a coordinated series of attacks on the London subway system, as well as on financial buildings in both New York and Washington.

      So, based on those plans, the British arrested a bunch of troublemakers in Luton, but apparently missed the new growing cell of the four men involved in the bombings, as well as their supplier. Naeem Noor Khan was the original mastermind.

      “There's absolutely no doubt he was part of an al Qaeda operation aimed at not only the United States but Great Britain,” explained Alexis Debat, a former official in the French Defense Ministry who is now a senior terrorism consultant for ABC News.

      But chasing down the lead only cut off the head of the hydra.

      “It is very likely this group was activated last year after the other group was arrested,” Debat said.

      Khan was our double agent inside Al Qaeda that was outed to the New York Times by Pakistani intelligence. Last August I wondered if the New York Times would realize its error in burning such a source. After all, that was a billion times worse than revealing the identity of a CIA desk jockey that sends her husband on politically-motivated trips to subvert the restabilization of the middle east…

      Brings a new definition to the term “Roving Reporter.”

      Update: I'm adding this to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Jul 14 2005 07:41 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  1 trackback

      London Bombings


      7/7 joins 9/11 and 3/11 in the list of infamous attacks targeting innocent civilians.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Jul 7 2005 12:17 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Laptop

      Looks like we captured Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's laptop. Not as good as getting the terrorist mastermind himself, but let's see what we can find inside.

      U.S. intelligence officials who were briefed on data gleaned from a computer taken after a Feb. 20 U.S. Special Forces ambush in Iraq—in which Zarqawi narrowly escaped—told the [New York] Post that they have discovered shocking new details about the growing threat to U.S. and Western interests posed by Zarqawi, who they say is rapidly eclipsing bin Laden in importance.
      “He's becoming the new bin Laden. He's the man out there carrying out attacks on Americans every day while bin Laden, who is heavily pressured and having difficulty communicating on a regular basis, is in the shadows and becoming more of a symbolic figure,” former CIA counterterrorism director Vincent Cannistraro told the Post.

      That's a little disingenuous. Bin Laden has been more of a CEO for Al Quaeda. He works on getting money. He approves major ops. He was more of an operational person when they were working in Afghanistan. Ther person really being eclipsed by Zarqawi is Ayman al-Zawahiri.

      But a U.S. official told FOX News that while Zarqawi's movement extends beyond Iraq, the official cast doubt on reports such as those in the Post that the terrorist has now eclipsed Usama bin Laden (search) in stature within Al Qaeda.
      This official pointed out that the Zarqawi network has struck in Jordan, for example, where Zarqawi associates were blamed for the 2002 assassination of U.S. Agency for International Development officer Lawrence Foley. But sources point out that as his near capture in February illustrates, Zarqawi has got his hands full already in Iraq. Yes, Zarqawi's organization has gone outside Iraq before but the U.S. official would not characterize Zarqawi as now emerging as Al Qaeda's new leader.

      Golly! Do we have another case of a CIA official talking out of school (this time to the New York Post) only to get smacked down by another official in the US government? How long before Porter Goss has to fire another rogue director in the CIA?

      The data in his computer reveals Zarqawi is directing scores of fanatics from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states who volunteered for “martyrdom” missions in Iraq and other countries, sources said.
      “The information has given us new insight into the scope of his operations outside of Iraq that we did not know about previously,” a U.S. intelligence official familiar with the analysis told the Post.

      Safe to talk about what we've found on the laptop since Zarqawi knows what we have already. I suspect he's already working hard to protect those assets now exposed by this find. In addition, he will have to change how he operates since so much detail was gleaned from this source. Every time he changes what's worse he has an opportunity to make a mistake.

      We've missed Zarqawi so many times that it's certainly getting frustrating, but I suspect that every time we make sure we learn our lessons. Zarqawi has to keep being more innovative than us at every turn, and we have more people working on it than he does.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Apr 27 2005 10:03 AM  |  Permalink  |  2 comments  |  No trackbacks

      Ambassador Powell, Pakistan and Matchbooks

      A followup to “US Ambassador Impedes Bin Laden Manhunt.”

      Richard Miniter's story, “How a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden,” got a reaction out of the State Department. Miniter covers the response in his blog:

      So the State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli decided to fire back at me for my article on the front-page of the New York Sun on Monday. What is interesting is that baseless charges (“untrue and unfair”!) are thrown around so freely. I wonder if he actually read the entire article. Mr. Deputy Spokesman raises a number of objections, as you can see below. All of the points he makes are mentioned in the original story. His complaint amounts to arguing that the State Dept. view is buried too far into the story. I guess he wants to play editor…

      A day later, Miniter gets a reassertion from Representative Kirk:

      The lawmaker at the center of The New York Sun's exclusive yesterday stands by his account. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican of Illinois, who sits on the appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department, faulted Ambassador Nancy Powell's decision to impound wanted posters, matchbooks, and other items translated into local languages.
      Asked for comment yesterday, Mr. Kirk declined to elaborate further, adding that the hunt for Mr. bin Laden has been invigorated by the replacement of Ms. Powell by veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker.

      I suspect this spat will continue. If the program had been discontinued by State before Ms. Powell arrived, well and good, but it was started up again after Crocker was appointed. If Powell didn't kill it, why did Crocker bring it back?

      It seems to be the belief of some that it doesn't work.

      Maybe rewards don't work against current terrorists, but do they deter others from becoming terrorists? Or does it make them bolder, like the Wild West movies where outlaws try for higher rewards?

      I think the rewards involved here are big enough to change someone's life if they bring forward real information.

      Amazon.com links:

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Mar 30 2005 10:33 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      US Ambassador Impedes Bin Laden Manhunt

      Richard Miniter reports in the New York SunHow a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden:”

      Ambassador Nancy Powell, America's representative in Pakistan, refused to allow the distribution in Pakistan of wanted posters, matchbooks, and other items advertising America's $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.
      Instead, thousands of matchbooks, posters, and other material—printed at taxpayer expense and translated into Urdu, Pashto, and other local languages—remained “impounded” on American Embassy grounds from 2002 to 2004, according to Rep. Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois.

      Wow. I can't understand why a US Ambassador would intervene in a open effort to capture Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda terrorists.

      Mr. Kirk discovered Ms. Powell's unusual order in January 2004 and, over the past year, launched a series of behind-the-scenes moves that culminated in a blunt conversation with President Bush aboard Air Force One, the removal of the ambassador, and congressional approval for reinvigorating the hunt for Mr. bin Laden.

      Looks like she got fired (actually she ended up being recalled to Foggy Bottom). But why did it happen?

      Mr. Kirk accidentally learned of Ms. Powell's impoundment policy as part of an official congressional delegation visiting Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, in January 2004.

      Ouch. In addition to “why did it happen?” I'd like to know why to took so long to notice?

      Mr. Kirk said that he raised the issue directly with the ambassador. According to the congressman, she replied that she had “six top priorities” and finding Mr. bin Laden was only one of them. She listed other priorities: securing supply lines for American and allied forces in Afghanistan, shutting down the network of nuclear proliferator A. Q. Khan, preventing a nuclear war between Pakistan and India, and forestalling a radical Islamic takeover of the government of Pakistan, a key American ally.

      Those are good objectives, but it's really hard for anyone (or any organization) to focus on six priorities. However, it seems (to me) like the distribution of materials promoting a reward for turning in Al Qaeda members could be easily delegated. Dealing with the leads from the program would certainly be extra work, but surely it would be considered valuable enough to ask for more people to do it.

      High-level managers that claim to have too many priorities bother me. They should delegate better and spend their time securing resources necessary for those to whom they delegate as well as establishing broad policy for their organizations.

      A senior State Department official confirmed that the meeting between Mr. Kirk and Ms. Powell did occur and that the ambassador did review the embassy's top six priorities, but the official said that “counterterrorism was the no. 1 priority.”

      There's a clear expectation there. If it wasn't clear enough, the President was saying the same thing. I can't imagine Colin Powell softening that message either.

      This same official apparently engaged in damage control, given the opportunity:

      The senior State Department official denied that Ms. Powell had restricted the distribution of materials touting the reward for Mr. bin Laden and other “high value targets.” That program—known as Rewards for Justice—was discontinued in Pakistan prior to Ms. Powell's 2002 arrival because it was “ineffective,” the senior official said. At the time, the Rewards for Justice program was widely used by other American embassies farther from the center of America's operations to kill or capture key Al Qaeda leaders.

      “Ineffective” compared to some other program, perhaps, but more effective than no program at all. If there was a resource issue, Ms. Powell should have indicated that. Perhaps that's where she was going with her “six top priorities” but that was definitely the wrong thing to say.

      Meanwhile, our intrepid congressman went on the warpath and gained an audience.

      When Mr. Bush asked the congressman to join him aboard Air Force One for a campaign stop in Mr. Kirk's suburban Chicago district in July 2004, the lawmaker saw his chance. He told the president about his ambassador impounding materials that could lead to the capture of Mr. bin Laden. “Bush was very cautious,” Mr. Kirk recalled. The president did not betray an immediate response. “When one of his people is concerned, he likes to take his time and investigate.”

      Results? Ms. Powell returns to Foggy Bottom in November of 2004 and is replaced by Ryan Crocker. Crocker's changes were significant:

      The American Embassy in Islamabad now boasts a 24-hour call center to receive tips. The center is manned by two locals, both of whom speak the three major languages of Pakistan, and supervised by a Diplomatic Security officer. Embassy staff recently launched a 12-week radio and television campaign alerting residents that, in the words of one 30-second Urdu-language radio spot, they “may be eligible for a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to the arrest of known international terrorists.” About 25 calls were received in February 2005, the center's first full month of operation.

      So perhaps Rewards for Justice was ineffective, but a similar program seems to be in operation now. Congressman Kirk spearheaded legislation to increase the reward to $50 million, as well.

      Richard Miniter has written extensively on counterterrorism in the Clinton and Bush administrations in his books Losing Bin Laden and Shadow War. I haven't read them, but I did hear an interview with him on the Victoria Taft show here in Portland. He seemed to know what he was talking about.

      (Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.)

      Update: Richard Miniter has relaunched his blog Miniter's Notebook.

      Update2: I'm adding this to the Beltway Traffic Jam.

      3/29/2005 Update: Tigerhawk, to his own surprise, defends the State Department in his analysis of this article.

      Amazon.com links:

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Mar 28 2005 11:53 AM  |  Permalink  |  3 comments  |  1 trackback

      Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi Selects Soft Targets

      Via Little Green Footballs we learn of a magazine article detailing al-Zarqawi's plans to terrorize Americans:

      In their March 14 issue, TIME Magazine reports new details of Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi’s plans to attack the United States, discovered through interrogations of a top aide to al-Zarqawi. According to TIME, a restricted bulletin circulated among U.S. security agencies last week in which the aide said al-Zarqawi has talked about hitting “soft targets” in the US, including “movie theaters, restaurants and schools.”

      Presumably “red state” movie theaters, restaurants and schools, at that.

      I've been concerned about the impact of attacking soft targets in the US, but somewhat comforted by the fact that liberalized concealed carry prevents the typical “shoot 'em up” from being more widespread. What really concerns me is bombings. People here are not tremendously concerned about unattended bags, IEDs and car bombs.

      It does not go unnoticed by me that workplace shootings happen more frequently in the bluer states where repressive laws prevent widespread CCW. CCW doesn't prevent the other kinds of problems, however. Have cautious people already gotten out of the habit of avoiding large gatherings? Would an attack on such a gathering have a large effect on the US economy?

      The more you can do from home, the better. There's not much value in blowing up the single-family home in the boonies, although home invasions are on the rise as well.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Mar 13 2005 03:19 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Intercepts Indicate Bin Laden Ordering Zarqawi to Attack US

      On Fox News we see a alert indicating multiple US officials have leaked the information that intercepts indicate Usama Bin Laden has ordered Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to “focus on attacks inside the United States.”

      While much bravado is indicated in the article saying that Zarqawi is spending more time staying out of custody than he is attacking, he has certainly made a name, and a nuisance, of himself in Iraq. He has killed a lot of people, publicly, and in the most horrible manner he can contrive.

      Of course, it could have been a calculated leak in order in deflate the US euphoria after the successful elections in Afghanistan and Iraq and also the anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon that has resulted in the resignation of the Syrian-backed Prime Minister and his government there. If Democracy is on the march then Bin Laden and Zarqawi will want to make sure it appears to be marching out of step, in the wrong direction, or in retreat.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Feb 28 2005 01:29 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Ahmed Omar Abu Ali Followup

      So, it turns out the school Ahmed Omar Abu Ali attended and at which he earned the title “valedictorian” was the Islamic Saudi Academy. This school is funded by Saudi Arabia and follows Wahhabism, the fundamentalist Islamic movement. It is a major sect in Saudi Arabia, and is the faith of many Islamic terrorists, like Osama Bin Laden.

      Added to my comment yesterday that his father was a important offical at the Saudi embassy and it's clear that Abu Ali is not exactly your typical High School graduate. Kinda diminishes the impact of his positioning (by the Associated Press) as a Texas-born, valedictorian at a Virginia high school who just happened to go to college in Medina image, doesn't it?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Feb 23 2005 12:36 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Ahmed Omar Abu Ali

      Today's big news maker is Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the valedictorian of a Virginia high school who allegedly went on to join an Al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia and plot the assassination of the President.

      According to Fox News and the AP,

      The federal indictment said that in 2002 and 2003 Abu Ali and an unidentified co-conspirator discussed plans for Abu Ali to assassinate Bush. They discussed two scenarios, the indictment said, one in which Abu Ali “would get close enough to the president to shoot him on the street” and, alternatively, “an operation in which Abu Ali would detonate a car bomb.”

      When Abu Ali was in Saudi Arabia he ended up getting arrested by Saudi authorities. His family sued the Federal government alleging that they sought his arrest in that country so he could be tortured for information. However, Saudi Arabian police practices are different than here. The fact that he appeared in court here in the US was a bit of a surprise, but justice may yet be served:

      When [Attorney] Nubani offered to show the judge his back, [Judge] O'Grady said that Abu Ali might be able to enter that as evidence on Thursday at a detention hearing.
      “I can assure you you will not suffer any torture or humiliation while in the [U.S.] marshals' custody,” O'Grady said.

      Whatever he was charged with in Saudi Arabia, he's facing some serious charges right here.

      Abu Ali is charged with six counts and would face a maximum of 80 years in prison if convicted. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda, providing material support to Al Qaeda, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and contributing service to Al Qaeda.

      Abu Ali had been known as an “unjustly imprisoned” person by a few organization. Obviously the online petition for his release will need to be updated, as well as the summary at Rights 101 Oregon:

      At the request of the US government, on June 11, 2003, US citizen Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was arrested by Saudi security officers while he was taking his final exams at Medina University. Over one year has passed, and neither the US government nor the Saudi government has charged him with wrongdoing. In fact, both governments have signaled that he is innocent.
      Mr. Ahmed Abu Ali’s parents were told by US State Department personnel, in the presence of their attorneys and a delegation from the Council on American Islamic Relations, that a high-ranking Saudi official in charge of the case has informed the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that “Abu Ali could be rendered to American authorities at any time if the US Government made a formal request.” But our government has not made a formal request.

      Well, obviously a request was made. It's clear that a request wouldn't be made until charges could be made, and charges couldn't be made until all of the intelligence information behind those charges could be cleared. I feel this is the fundamental problem with intelligence being involved in law enforcement. It takes time to extricate a case from the effort to understand Al Quaeda. Is it really as important to jail a foot soldier if jailing him slows down our apprehension of someone like Bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri?

      Apparently they managed to build a case against Abu Ali that has been isolated from the other work, but it took over a year. I'm not excusing it. I don't like it. But I can understand it.

      Update: Fox News has provided a link to the indictment.

      Update2: Wizbang, as usual, has a deeper round-up of information:

      Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was related to the "paintball jihad" group of 11 Virginia men charged in 2003. One point of crossroads between Ali and the paintball jihadists is the Dar Al Arqam Islamic center in Falls Church…
      It's also possible that his father held (or holds) a high level position in the Saudi Embassy.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Feb 22 2005 08:50 AM  |  Permalink  |  4 comments  |  2 trackbacks

      Ayman al-Zawahiri Warns Us Again

      Just ten days after a previous warning, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al-Qaeda serial beheader, posted another saber-rattling via videotape on Al Jazeera today. He claims to be issuing the message to commemorate the anniversary of the internment of terrorists and enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      “Your new crusade will end, God willing, with the same defeat as its predecessors, but only after you have suffered tens of thousands of dead and the destruction of your economy,” Zawahiri said.

      Zawahiri styles himself a Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (“Saladin” to most of us), the famous general that defeated the crusaders and retook Jerusalem. Perhaps he forgets that the reaction to Saladin was the massive third crusade, although Saladin was able to hold King Richard I back at the Levantine coast.

      If Zawahiri expects that he is reprising the role of Saladin and that Bush represents Richard the Lion-Heart he needs to look a little better. Zawahiri has not retaken anything. He has engaged in cowardly attacks designed more to sway public opinion than to dislodge any perceived invader.

      Zawahiri… warned the West: “Your real safety lies in treating the Muslim nation on the basis of respect and ceasing aggression (against it).”

      Now that is particularly rich. In my opinion flying missiles full of innocents smashing into the buildings of the Port Authority of New York is hardly an act deserving respect, and responding to it with force is hardly aggression.

      Removing dictators and employing free elections has the sound of respect, however. While it's not perfect, it's a heck of a lot better than the old system.

      (I used the “Saladin” to refresh my memory of Saladin while writing this article.)

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Feb 20 2005 05:02 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Zarqawi Lieutenants Captured

      Leading up to the Iraqi elections, we hear from Captain Ed that two more Zarqawi associates have been captured. I certainly appreciate that efforts to squash the leadership of the terrorist arm of the Iraqi insurgency continues apace.

      Many believe that Zarqawi has fallen into a trap with his response to President Bush's inaugural speech. Just after the president said he had been too strident with his “Bring it on!” gibe, his speech emphasized his desire to bring democracy and end tyranny around the world.

      Some took his speech as a threat to Saudi Arabia, but I doubt it. It was aimed squarely at the Axis of Evil.

      Zarqawi's reaction?

      We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it.

      An interesting thing to say. What alternatives are he offering to democracy? The tyranny of dictators or شريعة (shari'a) law.

      He did get one reaction that I suppose he would consider positive:

      Polls have shown that most Iraqis plan to vote despite such threats and unremitting violence, but the fear is palpable in conversations with Iraqis, many of whom refuse to be photographed or even to talk to Westerners.

      I hope the elections go well, although there are many jokesters already saying that Saddam Hussein will win.

      Update: James Taranto points out another Zarqawi quote in today's “Best of the Web” column in OpinionJournal:

      “Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion,” he said, and that is “against the rule of God…”

      Now there's an argument for the separation of church and state if I ever saw one.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Jan 24 2005 11:16 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      AP At It Again

      Charles at Little Green Footballs examines a puff piece by the AP about Abbas, who is likely to win the elections in Palestine. It's a great study in contrasts.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Jan 9 2005 03:57 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Abu Marwan

      In another entry in a long series of terrorist captures after the capture of a key figure, Captain Ed notices that fifty terrorists were capture soon after the unannounced capture of Abu Marwan. Sure, his information may lead to other events, but if the terrorists know he's been captured, they will work to limit the damage.

      Even if Abu Marwan doesn't talk, they will have to work to repair parts of their network he might have known about. That's why I like seeing key figured turned.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Dec 31 2004 09:37 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Dioxin Poisoning for Yushchenko

      Via OpinionJournal's “Best of the Web” we find that Viktor Yushchenko, a popular candidate for President in the Ukraine who I think we would have preferred to Putin's puppet Viktor Yanukovych, had been poisoned and was giving a Dioxin count six thousand times the normal amount.

      Putting Dioxin in your borscht will give you cancer and disfigure your face but Yushchenko will likely recover.

      The reformist candidate… first fell ill after having dinner with Ukrainian Security Service chief Ihor Smeshko and his deputy Volodymyr Satsyuk on Sept. 5. He reported having a headache about three hours after the dinner, and by the next day had developed an acute stomachache.
      He later reported pancreatitis and gastrointestinal pain, as well as backache. He also suffered partial nerve paralysis in his face and an inflammation of one inner ear.
      About three weeks after his first symptoms, he developed the rough, acne-like rash on his face which is the hallmark of dioxin poisoning.
      “It was very late before the rash started to develop, so if he had died it would have been a mystery illness of his pancreas, his liver or his gut and they would have said maybe it's some rare bug thing,” said John Henry, a toxicologist at London's Imperial College. “He would have died within a few days and nobody would ever, ever have thought of dioxins.”

      Ouch. I think I prefer protests and lawyers to poisoning. I'm glad things here haven't developed such nastiness.

      Even so, Christine Gregoire is content to cheat Dino Rossi, but won't stoop to murder him.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Dec 15 2004 12:48 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Penn at the Airport

      Penn Gilette of Penn & Teller gets assaulted by a TSA employee. Penn, being a freedom-oriented fellow, decides to get the local police involved in the unwanted touching.

      I've always enjoyed Penn's exploits. Between him, Matt Parker, and Trey Stone, it is good to see libertarians who get some press. Looks like he wrote that entry on November 13th of 2002, but I didn't see it until now. I got a pointer from the Parma-IDPA mailing list.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Dec 4 2004 11:55 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Chemical Laboratory in Fallujah

      Reuters reports an Iraqi Minister tells us a laboratory for the manufacture of chemical weapons has been found by the Iraqi National Guard in Fallujah.

      Fox News reports that in addition to this find Marine have found the largest cache of weapons yet found as well as a mobile bomb-making factory.

      An additional report of interest is that Zarqawi used a Swiss SIM to make phone calls all over the world to coordinate terrorist activities. Why someone would let this leak out? Does anyone care about what intelligence we do discover?

      As Drudge like to say, “developing…”

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Nov 25 2004 11:55 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


      I'm confused. Some Marine is in trouble for doing what earned John Kerry a Bronze Star?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Nov 16 2004 11:10 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Iran and Iraq

      WindsOfChange.Net has started examining the threat posed by Iran especially in relation to the insurgency in the Sunni triangle as well as with their nuclear saber-rattling.

      Interesting theories in the article include the planned assassination of Paul Bremer and the similarities of that plan with the actual attack, in Baghdad, on Paul Wolfowitz in October of 2003, Iranian support of Iraqi terrorism in the form of cash, weapons, and medicines, and significant ties between Al-Sadr and Iran.

      He quotes US News and World Report:

      Iran set up a massive intelligence network in Iraq, flooding the country with agents in the months after the U.S.-led coalition toppled Saddam Hussein's regime. Sources told American intelligence analysts that Iranian agents were tasked with finding information on U.S. military plans and identifying Iraqis who would be willing to conduct attacks on U.S. forces that would not be linked to Iran.

      …and adds his own comments:

      These would be all of those “pilgrims” that flooded across the Iraqi border after Saddam's fall. They were most likely contacting Iranian assets across Iraq as well as reaffirming their ties to the al-Qaeda and allied jihadi forces and the nascent Iraqi Islamists. As I noted above, Sunnis—who formed the bulk of the insurgency from its onset to the beginning of the Sadr Uprising in April 2004 would be the preferred means that the Iranians would use to go after the US.

      Excellent analysis pervades his posting, and he ends with this:

      …by the time all of this is over I promise that I will address the question of why Iran is a greater threat to the US than Pakistan.

      I'm looking forward to it.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Nov 15 2004 01:58 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Arafat Really Dead This Time

      Okay, it was embarassing that I reported Arafat dead a few days ago, but I think this time we can state with confidence that he is gone.

      I wonder if it will be misreported as another person depressed by voting results…

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Nov 11 2004 07:47 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Arafat Has Died

      According to Drudge, Arafat has died.

      Update: The AP reports that some say Arafat is clinically dead, but the Palestinian PM denies it.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Nov 4 2004 08:45 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Gunman Kills Dutch Film Director

      Barry submits this article that shows that some are carrying on the tradition of threatening and killing those that dissent against Islam.

      I found a related article here.

      Gunman kills Dutch film director
      Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, who made a controversial film about Islamic culture, has been stabbed and shot dead in Amsterdam, Dutch police say.
      Police arrested a man in a nearby park after an exchange of gunfire. The man, aged 26, had joint Dutch and Moroccan nationality, they said.
      Van Gogh, 47, had received death threats after his film Submission was shown on Dutch TV.
      It portrayed violence against women in Islamic societies.
      The film was made with liberal Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who fled an arranged marriage.
      Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been under police protection since the film was aired. She has also received death threats and has renounced the Islamic faith.
      Eyewitnesses quoted by Radio Netherlands said Van Gogh was attacked while cycling by a man dressed in a traditional Moroccan jallaba.
      Both the suspect and a policeman suffered bullet wounds and are now in hospital.
      Van Gogh—who was related to the famous Dutch painter—had also been making a film about Pim Fortuyn, the populist right-wing, anti-immigration politician assassinated in May 2002.
      Film controversy
      The film Submission told the story of a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage who is abused by her husband and raped by her uncle. It triggered an outcry from Dutch Muslims.
      In one scene the film showed an actress in see-through garments with Koranic script written on her body, which also bore whip marks.
      The Netherlands is home to nearly one million Muslims or 5.5% of the population.
      One of the film maker's colleagues at the film production company said Van Gogh had received death threats “but he never took them quite seriously.”
      “He was a controversial figure and a champion of free speech,” he told Reuters.
      Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said “it is unacceptable if expressing your opinion would be the cause of this brutal murder.”
      “On a day like this we are reminded of the murder of Fortuyn. We cannot resign ourselves to such a climate,” he added.
      And Queen Beatrix said she was shocked and appalled at the killing, AFP news agency reported.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Nov 2 2004 09:27 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      UBL Full Transcript

      Via the Volokh Conspiracy we find Al Jazeera has released the full transcript of Usama's videotape. As they say, go read the whole thing.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Nov 1 2004 06:07 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      UBL's Threat to Each (Red?) State

      Via John Robb's Weblog we get a link to this article at the Middle East Media Research Institute pointing out the appropriate translation of Usama Bin Laden's videotape is that “each US state” will be punished if it interferes with the freedom of Al Quaeda. Since this implicitly indicates that every state that votes Bush will be punished that must mean that even this terrorist mastermind thinks Kerry is not a threat to terrorism. Great endorsement!

      This morning the New York Post is also noticing this detail.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Nov 1 2004 07:33 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      UBL Video Edited

      Via Power Line Blog, we see the New York Post reporting that the video aired on Al Jazeera was edited down.

      Osama bin Laden doesn't seem nearly so cocky in the unedited version of a videotape aired on al-Jazeera, complaining that the manhunt against him has hampered al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's newest tape may have thrust him to the forefront of the presidential election, but what was not seen was the cave-dwelling terror lord talking about the setbacks al Qaeda has faced in recent months.

      Odd that Al Jazeera would leave in the Fahrenheit 9/11 regurgitation and not the rest. They were working on a reputation for objective reporting, weren't they?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Oct 31 2004 08:36 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Beldar on “We're Making More Terrorists!”

      Beldar always says it better than I do. I need to work on that.

      “By invading Iraq,” they say, “President Bush has caused more terrorists.” For example, I just saw a blogad pimping a new book with a blurb from a WaPo review by Richard Clarke that gushes, “[Jonathan] Randal makes a convincing case that the U.S. war on Iraq has needlessly extended the lifetime and ferocity of this generation of terrorists as never before.” I haven't read Mr. Randal's book, and neither do I plan to waste the time or money to do so, because I already understand his “convincing case,” and I know what it amounts to:
      Rubbish and balderdash.
      Radical Islamic extremists are not like poison ivy—“don't scratch it, it'll only get worse!” The necessary premise of this argument is, “If we'd only—(choose one or more)—(a) let them alone, (b) treat them with due respect, (c) allow them to drive Israel into the sea, then they wouldn't keep flying airplanes into our buildings, blowing up school busses, kidnapping and beheading civilians, etc.”
      These folks won't be happy until my two daughters are in burqas and they and I together are under the watchful eyes of thought-and-conduct police who'll correct any deviation from their approved path. They won't be happy until our civilization is destroyed and replaced with one that they've dictated.

      It's a great posting, with a great ending:

      So if you're all worked up into making this particular argument in my presence, don't be surprised if I snort derisively and wander off to do something more productive—say, clipping my fingernails or cleaning my toilets—instead of debating it with you at length. You're a fool, and unless you're also a client (and I don't argue politics with my clients anyway), I have no obligation to suffer your foolishness gladly.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Oct 30 2004 03:17 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      I was Left Out!

      The Truth Laid Bear did a roundup of blogger reactions to the Usama Bin Laden tape, but I wasn't in there. However, I don't think my blog is nearly as important as those other guys, so perhaps I should just shut up.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Oct 30 2004 03:14 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Usama Wants a Truce?

      Beldar Blog examines the idea that Usama might have been firing the opening negotiation with Kerry for a truce with his videotape. Beldar's subtle investigation of Kerry's tendency to be a “blithering fool” aside (it's good reading), this morning I listened to the MSM claim that Osama wants Bush to win because he's a easier target to rally against.

      That the MSM would spin this in a way that makes Kerry look good is expected, I just hope people are smarter than that.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Oct 30 2004 07:48 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      “Azzam the American” is “Adam Yahiye Gadahn”

      Via Fox News we hear of Imam Haitham Bundjaki telling us that Azzam the American sounds an awful lot like Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a young man he converted to Islam. (See also “Adam Pearlman” or “Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki”.)

      The 9/11 Commission report had a lot to say about certain mosques in the US, and how Al-Queda members used them as recruiting grounds although they couldn't necessarily assert that it was an approved practice. Adam, at least, is supposed to have gone to Pakistan to meet with Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Oct 29 2004 03:22 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Bin Laden Endorses Freedom, Recites Democratic Talking Points

      Bin Laden appears to be alive and promptly recites a DNC ad. I can't see this as being good for Kerry as Bin Laden is clearly more afraid of Bush.

      We fought you because we are free… and want to regain freedom for our nation. As you undermine our security we undermine yours.

      Why would rescuing Kuwait from Saddam Hussein, resisting Iranian and Afghan communism, brokering piece between Israel and Egpyt, and supporting the states of Israel and Saudi Arabia undermine the security of free people like Usama Bin Laden? He needs to be a bit more detailed. To me this sounds like extreme spin.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Oct 29 2004 03:01 PM  |  Permalink  |  1 comment  |  No trackbacks

      Is Usama Bin Laden Alive?

      The Belgravia Dispatch has a summary of UBL videos and audio, and relative opinions on their validity.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Oct 21 2004 01:47 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Safety (nee Terror) In the Skies, Part VIII

      Annie Jacobsen added an eighth part on October 1st, and I missed it until now!


      To date, the FAMS continues to publicly deny that any evidence of probing exists on commercial aircraft. Meanwhile, speaking on conditions of absolute anonymity, pilots, flight attendants and Federal Air Marshals (via media outlets) are saying probing is occurring and have been literally begging for the authorities and the general public to listen to them.


      Hollow point bullets may be designed to mushroom inside the human body, but if they're the kind of hollow point bullets the FAMS uses—SIG–357–HP's according to my sources—then they travel about three times faster than other bullets. Couple this with the incredibly close quarters on an airplane, and you've got a problem. When fired at close range, the bullets used by the FAMS will likely travel not just through the targeted assailant, but also through up to four more bodies—and possibly through the cabin wall of an aircraft.

      Argh! I don't know of any .357 SIG hollowpoint that travels three times faster than other, presumably handgun, bullets. They could be edging past 1400fps, perhaps. Perhaps this is just under 30% faster than a typical large-bore carry round like 200gr .45 ACP hollowpoint at around 950–1000 fps (my favorites are from ProLoad), and less than 10% faster than a typical 9mm carry round. Certainly you could claim they are twice as fast as the large bore wadcutter target loads people shoot in bullseye matches.

      Perhaps it's okay to worry about overpenetration, a little, except we've never had an Air Marshall shoot on a plane at all. Frankly, if they did have to shoot, we'd prefer the terrorists to be dead for sure. Overpenetration means less energy spent on the terrorist, but if they were wearing body armor (and it's still legal to fly with body armor) you'd want to penetrate more than your typical carry load.

      Besides, a good Air Marshall will kneel behind the concealing seats and shoot the terrorists in the head. Little tiny holes in the ceiling don't do much to aircraft. It's kinda like thinking that the Earth is annoyed by oil wells.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Oct 4 2004 06:54 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Terror in the Skies, Part VIII

      Annie Jacobsen has posted Part VIII of her series at Women's Wall Street. It's mostly a criticism of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS):

      Air Marshals stick out like sore thumbs. It's no secret that Air Marshals are required to wear a sports coat, collared shirt, dress slacks and dress shoes on every flight.
      The Airline Pilots Security Alliance (APSA) sees the dress code as representative of a deadly problem—bureaucracy. “The dress requirement is just one more example of career bureaucrats ignoring the pleas of frontline operators,” said APSA Spokesperson Brian Darling. “A lot of these managers have been off the frontlines too long. At some point, someone's got to shake them and say, 'Another airplane is going to hit a building!'”
      The way in which Air Marshals enter airport secure zones and board aircraft pose additional opportunities for a blown cover. Because they carry firearms, Air Marshals can't go through security screening with other passengers. But instead of being able to pass through these areas incognito, Air Marshals often walk into security areas through exit lanes—marching against the flow of passengers and drawing attention to themselves.

      She goes on to point out that El Al has air marshals on every flight, dressed in plain clothes, and than El Al has not had a hijacking in many years.

      Me, I'd like to be able to carry a knife on planes again, if not a gun someday. I'm no terrorist, and I wouldn't mind having something other than my laptop to beat one up if I had to.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Sep 16 2004 12:50 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      The Putin Doctrine

      Via Drudge we find that Putin wants to take the fight against terrorism abroad, including the use of pre-emptive strikes.

      Putin hasn't been all that good to the Chechens, but the hostage shootings in the school in southern Russia weren't exactly pleasant either, were they?

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Monday, Sep 13 2004 11:49 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      September 11, 2004

      A lot of blogs are remembering 9/11 today. I suppose I should do my part.

      I awoke to a phone call on 9/11/01, a little after 6am. The gal on the phone was telling me that a jet plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was still trying to wake up when I heard her exclamations on the phone as the second plane crashed into the south tower. It was an agonizing experience.

      I watched a little of what I could find on the web. I didn't have cable servce at home. At that point I had given up television for a couple years already. I wandered into work where I found out about the third crash at the Pentagon.

      It was an eerie time. Internet news sites were slammed and very little information was available. The weird story of the fourth flight took hours to play out. Rumors flew fast and furious.

      However, my most painful moment related to 9/11 was hearing, a lot later, the tape of the stewardess on the second plane talking on her cell phone as they went into the south tower.

      I don't like reality shows where people get hurt. I'm too empathetic. I absolutely hated that tape. I didn't like watching video of people jumping from the towers.

      Two and a half years later I got the 9/11 Commission Report from audible.com and listened to it on the drive to and from work. Even in two-hour-a-day chunks, parts of the report are hard to listen to. Recounting the story of people falling from the building and emergency workers dodging these people as they tried to escape the doomed buildings were particularly hard for me.

      9/11 has been referred to as a day of reverence, or reflection, or anger, or other emotions. For me it is a reminder of the need for proactive, not reactive, measures to handle our own safety.

      In real life I work on building software products. Proactive rather than reactive measures rule the day there as well. Even so, most of the engineers around me support Kerry/Edwards. It apalls me that to them the proactive measure of fighting an enemy before he can effectively deliver his blows is “aggression.”

      To me it is getting inside the enemy's OODA loop.

      This enemy declared war against us a long long time ago. It took nearly three thousand deaths for us to react.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Sep 11 2004 10:45 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  1 trackback

      Terror in the Skies, Part VI

      Anne Jacobsen adds another entry to her Terror in the Skies series at Women's Wall Street. She adds the information that the two airliners downed in Russia appear to have had bombs in their toilets.

      What hasn't been widely reported is that Russian investigators now believe the two commercial aircraft were exploded from their toilets.
      According to the Russian newspaper Gazeta, At first, the experts on explosives were puzzled as they saw no traces of explosions in the passenger salons or noses of the planes. However, when the tail part of the TU-154 was examined, in the area where the toilet is, a piece of the edging with the illuminator had been torn away.

      She goes on to disucss the links between Al-Quaeda and Chechen Terrorists and touches on the Black Widows.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Sep 2 2004 10:09 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Chechen Terrorists Seize School in Russia

      Apparently we already have a followup to my earlier Chechen Black Widow posting. On my drive in this morning I hear that terrorists have seized a school in Russia, killing eight people and holding hundreds hostage. Since my daughter had her first day of second grade yesterday it hits close to home to see such an act on the first day of school in Russia.

      Fatima Khabalova, spokeswoman for the regional parliament, earlier said one of the dead was a father who brought his child to the school and was shot when he tried to resist the raiders. She also said at least nine people had been injured in gunfire after the hostage-taking.

      I sure as heck would have resisted, and it's still legal for me to carry when I pick up and drop off kids in my state.

      The ties between the Chechen terrorists (some call them rebels) and Al-Quaeda is long-standing, and they do seem well-organized and possibly well-funded. Since we didn't do anything to fight the Chechen arm of Al-Quaeda we can see what would have been in store for us if we hadn't attacked them in the Middle East.

      Clayton Cramer wrote an analysis of the Chechen terrorists on his blog this morning as well and admits,

      ...these actions by the Russian government in no way excuse attacks on non-combatants or taking hostages. Chechnyan terrorism has completely destroyed any sympathy that I had for their cause. If you want to portray yourself as heroic freedom fighters, you attack legitimate targets: combatants or political leaders, not children; you take prisoners, instead of executing them.
      It looks to me as though what we are seeing in the Chechnyan terrorism is not victims of Russian abuses responding badly, but an al-Qaeda farm team—a group that does not believe that there are any legitimate restraints on their use of terror.

      I have to agree.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Sep 1 2004 08:22 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Chechen Black Widows Strike Again

      Soon after two Chechen women are linked to the bombings of two Russian jets, another bombs the subway in Moscow.

      She "decided to destroy herself in a crowd of people" in a busy area between the subway station and a nearby department store-supermarket complex, Luzhkov said, adding that her bomb was packed with bolts and pieces of metal.
      "There was a desire to cause maximum damage," he said.

      That Islamic terrorists use female suicide bombers should not be a surprise after the incidents in Israel in past years, but the credibility of the Black Widows is soaring. The BBC article from September 2003 includes these statistics:

      Of seven suicide attacks by Chechen separatists on Russia in the past four months, six have been carried out by women. In total the attacks have killed 165 people.

      Obviously these women are motiviated by deep hatred based on the loss of loved ones. Be grateful that such things do not happen here.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Aug 31 2004 02:56 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Explosive Found in Second Russian Jet

      This pretty much settles it. With the same explosive, hexogen, found in both jets it's pretty obvious that the Russian airliners were downed by terrorism. With the death of a package bomber today in the Chechen elections it's also clear that the "disrupt the election" strategy of terrorism is alive and well over there.

      Many of the 9/11 plotters originally were going to Chechnya but were redirected by Bin Laden to anti-American activities. While Bin Laden has focused on us, there are plenty that want terrorism in Chechnya.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Aug 29 2004 09:41 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Explosives Found in Wreckage of Russian Planes

      We wake up this morning to analysis results from Russia along with a claim of responsibility from a Chechen separatist web site.

      "According to preliminary information, at least one of the air crashes ... has been the result of a terrorist act," a spokesman for the Federal Security Service, Sergei Ignatchenko, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

      So, apparently, we don't have to believe in coincidences.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 27 2004 07:30 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


      A common item that is on many people's minds this morning are the two plane crashes in Russia. As Captain Ed points out there are too many coincidences in this event.

      • Two simultaneous plane crashes,
      • Reports of hearing an explosion before the crash of one plane,
      • A distress signal from one plane before going down, and
      • Chechen elections on Sunday.

      Since Putin has mobilized the Federal Security Service (abbreviated in Russian as FSB) we would assume that they suspect terrorism as well. However, the FSB released a statement that indicates no terrorism:

      Russia's main intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, said it had found no evidence of terrorism in initial investigations at the crash sites. The FSB—formerly known as the KGB—said it was investigating all possible causes, such as technical failures, the use of poor quality fuel, breaches of fueling regulations and pilot error.

      While they didn't find evidence at the crash sites, there is plenty of time to figure out what really happened. I heard on the radio this morning that both black boxes had been recovered intact.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Aug 25 2004 08:53 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      US Arrests Three Suspected Hamas Money Launderers

      According to Fox News, we just arrested three Hamas members. It appears that the "follow the money" angle continues to work. They have been charged under RICO:

      The three were charged with racketeering conspiracy for allegedly joining with 20 others since at least 1988 to conduct business for Hamas, which the government said included conspiracies to commit murder, kidnapping, passport fraud and other crimes.

      The articles goes on to detail the charges:

      The U.S.-educated Abu Marzook holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and lived in the United States for 15 years, in Louisiana and Virginia. In 1995, he was detained by U.S. authorities on suspicion of involvement in terrorism. He was expelled to Jordan, and later sent by Jordan to Syria.
      Salah was accused of recruiting and training new members of Hamas in the United States. After his release from prison in Israel in 1997, authorities said he directed an associate in Chicago to scout potential targets for terrorist attacks in Israel.
      Ashqar was accused of opening bank accounts in Mississippi for Hamas purposes.

      This speaks well of the strategy to find terrorists refuges and destroy them and use the information gathered to disrupt command, control, and logistics. Despite the operational security of cells, they need contacts and finances to complete their missions.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 20 2004 08:59 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Blair's Residence Surveilled

      Looks like we caught two men surveilling Tony Blair's residence. They had high-tech equipment, detailed maps, and they knew where Tony's house was.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Aug 17 2004 05:00 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Eight Charged With Conspiracy to Commit Murder

      So, the eight arrested in the UK have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Not murder over there, but over here in the US. They had the plans for various financial centers. So, we find that eight people were arrested in the UK, and one in North Carolina, because they were either in the planning or final phases of an attack on the US financial infrastructure.

      Why does this sound familiar? Because Tom Ridge raised the terror alert level for certain financial institutions to orange at the beginning of the month. While the police in the UK discount the idea that the arrests stemmed from leads from Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan or the seizure of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's computers, it does appear to be related to the terror warning, whatever their source.

      It is notable that Abu Eisa al-Hindi does not appear to have been charged in this latest round. He is the one reputed to be a high-ranking Al Quaeda operative.

      Update: Fox News indicates that Dhiren Barot, who had possession of the plans, is Abu Eisa al-Hindi.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Tuesday, Aug 17 2004 11:23 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Syrian WMD Pipeline

      We continue to see stories indicating that Saddam smuggled weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) out of Iraq into Syria, before, during, and after the war. Add this to admission by UNMOVIC, and other articles about twenty tons of chemical weapons found in Jordan, reputedly in the possession of Al Quaeda.

      While I won't ask the seemingly paranoid question, "Are your gas masks and amphetamines close at hand?" It's getting to be less of a joke.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Monday, Aug 16 2004 01:00 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Terrorist Probing Attacks Said to be Happening Nationwide

      I got a link to this story from a law enforcement trainers mailing list. Annie Jacobsen's stories are only part of the picture.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Sunday, Aug 15 2004 01:40 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Pipe Bomb Found in Bag at Texas Police Station

      The especially bad part about this story is that they have no idea how long the bag was in the station.

      Makes you wonder about their defenses against terrorism.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 13 2004 01:25 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      More on Khan

      It appears that Pakistani intelligence outed Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan to the New York Times. Unlike my previous entry's speculation that Bush outed this operative it appears to have been a mistake made by a foreign intelligence service.

      Now it's up to us to make the New York Times admit it leaked this information.

      Reading my way through the 9/11 report it is interesting to note the complete turnaround Pakistan's intelligence service has completed. Before 9/11 we didn't trust that service not to leak information to Al Quaeda. Now we just worry about the New York Times.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 13 2004 11:07 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Inside Al Quaeda's Hard Drive

      The Atlantic goes inside Al Quaeda's hard drive. Should be better than Capone's Vault.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 12 2004 09:14 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Terror in the Skies, Part V

      Another passenger on Annie Jacobsen's flights has added information to this alarming story.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 12 2004 12:46 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Al Quaeda Assassination Plot and Portland Reaction

      Drudge picked up a Washington Times story about an Al Quaeda plot to assassinate a major political figure either here in the US or abroad in advance of activities designed to interfere with the upcoming election. ABC News picked it up this morning and I heard it recounted on KPAM this morning.

      KPAM went on to get a reaction from a couple people on Division Street here in Portland, Oregon. The first unnamed person responded, "I hope it's Bush." If that wasn't enough of a stunner, the second person responded they they didn't believe this latest leak, either. I know other people who think like these two, but it doesn't make it any easier to hear on the radio.

      If there's anything that makes me regret living in Portland, it is this extreme element that gets most of the attention. Remember that the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) terrorist organizations are based in Portland. When George W. Bush came to visit and 10,000 people marched in protest, he was reminded why his father referred to Portland as "Little Beirut."

      This latest Al Quaeda information has been tied back to Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, who I have commented on before.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Wednesday, Aug 11 2004 07:56 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  1 trackback

      Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan Was a Double Agent

      So it seems that Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan was a agent of the US for a short while before he was revealed as the source for the recent terror alerts and arrests.

      I first saw this on Reason magazine's blog and it lead me to a particular anti-Bush history professor Juan Cole. Prof. Cole's theory that Bush had to out this valuable source in order to have a credible reason for the terror alert.

      However, the question is, "Did we lose a valuable source of information."

      A frequent refrain in the 9/11 Commission Report is the lack of human intelligence from within Al Quaeda. It does seem unlikely that we would willingly burn a source by releasing his name and location to the press without a very good reason. Sure, I'd like to know more about why things happen, but I don't want to lose the source of information.

      The anti-war zealotry has led us to need to defuse "Wag the Dog" claims on terror alerts, and is thus lowering our ability to maintain long-term human intelligence within terrorist organizations. This is the legacy of Howard Dean.

      In fact, it didn't prevent Dean from making the claim anyway.

      But it may have prevented Kerry, who sometimes misses briefings.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Saturday, Aug 7 2004 08:06 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Abu Eisa al-Hindi Captured in United Kingdom

      The seizure of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's computers has resulted in another arrest in the United Kingdom. Based on discovered information twelve plotters have been captured, including Abu Eisa al-Hindi. Al-Hindi is suspected to be an Al Quaeda Reconnaissance Operative, scouting out the suspected New York targets of terror attacks.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Friday, Aug 6 2004 05:46 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Iraq Has "Ties" to Terrorism

      As a continuation of my earlier posts on "ties" and "links", note this Power Line blog entry that emphasizes the connections between Iraq and terrorism. Of course, the 9/11 report mentions frequent connections between Iraq and Al Quaeda, just no command and control of the 9/11 plot. Iraq, or at least Saddam harbored wanted terrorists like Abu Nidal, hosted terrorist training camps, and offered bounties to the families of suicide bombers.

      That's far more damning than those vague "ties" and "links" that get press-time these days.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Politics, Terrorism” Friday, Aug 6 2004 09:17 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Oh, That's What They Mean By "Ties"

      Apparently one of our missile financiers was unlucky enough to be in a terrorist's address book. Not the best way to draw attention, especially if you are filed under the title, "the commander."

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 5 2004 05:12 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Terror in the Skies, Part IV

      Annie Jacobsen continues to follow up to her original article relating an experience she had flying from Detroit to Los Angeles. It is the fourth followup to this original article, this followup, and this third piece.

      I have been listening to the 9/11 Commission's report on audible.com because I am generally interested in complex systems and how they can fail. For the most part the system that dealt with counter-terrorism in the United States failed because of too little information and too little information-sharing (and, perhaps, a refusal to take risks until it was clear that a lot of people were going to die). It's good to see that Annie Jacobsen is shaking them up a little by refusing to "go away" because "they are handling it."

      It is important in every organization that when people know something is wrong they take ownership and try to fix it. If you are trying to fix someone else's group, they might get huffy with you, but what they really should do is figure out where they went wrong and fix that too.

      It seems that there has been a public relations failure on a grand scale here in that several people were clearly upset and so far nothing has happened to allay their fears.

      Amusingly enough, the article revisits a theme I mentioned earlier today, "follow the money."

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 5 2004 04:48 PM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks

      Two Arrested for Laundering Terrorist Money

      It's been widely reported this morning that two mosque leaders in Albany, NY have been arrested for trying to help someone buy a shoulder-fired missile. The article goes on to point out that there was in fact no missile but that the two were involved in laundering the money for the purchase.

      Seems like Ness's Untouchables principles are still at work. It's far easier to catch a thief if you follow the money.

      Articles point out that the individuals had ties to Ansar al-Islam, although I always cringe at the term "ties." There are probably hundreds of organizations and individuals to which I have "ties." Does that mean I have influence over them? Does that mean they have influence over me?

      According to the Fox News article, this is the second time people have been arrested for trying to buy a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile. The previous arrest, last August, nabbed three terrorist wanna-bes.

      Josh Poulson

      Posted in category “Terrorism” Thursday, Aug 5 2004 08:06 AM  |  Permalink  |  No comments  |  No trackbacks


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