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Author Topic: Shooting at Ft. Hood Texas 11/05/09 13 dead, 43 wounded-(Murder Charges)  (Read 543147 times)
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« Reply #900 on: December 22, 2009, 06:19:25 PM »


Baraboo psychologist Tom Hayes, right, and his wife Cheryl are establishing a scholarship fund to honor slain Army Sgt. Amy Krueger, of Kiel. Hayes said several connections, including he and Amy's shared interest in psychology, had spurred him to set up the fund at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Honoring fallen soldier: Baraboo couple establish a scholarship

By Christie Taylor / News Republic

Two months ago, Baraboo psychologist Tom Hayes had never heard of Army Sgt. Amy Krueger, the Kiel soldier who was slain in November’s shooting at Fort Hood.

"I never met her, I didn’t know of her until after I heard of her passing," Hayes said.

Now, he’s establishing a scholarship fund in her name at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to encourage psychology students to continue on the long road toward being practicing psychologists.

"Maybe it seems odd," he said. "But she represents something that’s so right, that you can’t help want to honor that memory."

Following the shooting, Hayes said, he soon began to find connections to the 29-year-old, who was one of 13 killed in the Nov. 5 massacre. Amy had studied for two years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where Hayes had received his undergraduate degree. Both studied psychology.

And Hayes’ daughter, Amber Kunz, was living at Fort Hood, married to an Army staff sergeant. Hayes and his wife, Cheryl, had visited the base just weeks before the shooting to celebrate the birth of their first grandchild.

"There was just many connections," he said.

So Hayes, who had already been thinking about starting a scholarship, decided to call it the Amy Krueger Memorial Scholarship and limit it, when possible, to students in the armed forces.

"She obviously showed dedication not only to others but to serving her country," he said. "We wanted a part in honoring that."

The $500 scholarship will be awarded annually to psychology students who are interested in continuing their studies past the undergraduate level. Hayes said while he expected it would take at least five years before the endowment would be permanent, the first scholarship would be awarded this spring.

Amy, who had been working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the time she enlisted in the armed forces, was eventually hoping to acquire a master’s degree, her mother, Jeri Krueger said.

"Her ultimate goal was to practice psychology," she said. "Amy loved to help people.

"She was a very good listener, and she was a good guidance to a lot of people."

She said her daughter, who left Whitewater to enlist shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, had seen her experience in the combat stress unit, assisting soldiers in working through trauma from the battlefield, as a way to use her background in psychology to help her fellow soldiers.

And, Hayes said, he saw that as another connection between himself and the fallen soldier.

"I felt a connection to her mission — her mission in life," he said.

Hayes said Amy represented, to him, the sense that "the work that you’re doing is more important than yourself, and that service to others has in it its own reward."

And for Cheryl Hayes, the military connection was similarly strong. She said she felt, in part through visits to her daughter and son-in-law at Fort Hood, that it was important to support military families.

"Being down at a military base like that ... you wonder what all of those people have gone through, going to war," she said. "I just can’t fathom that, putting their life on the line for everybody back here.

"(A scholarship) is the least we can do for people in the military. I hope there is some very good use out of it."

Jeri, Amy’s mother, said her family had found the scholarship a "wonderfully generous thing."

"Some people think there’s a lot of bad in the world," she said. "But ... the good far outweighs the bad.

"(Amy) would be honored to have that in her name. The fact that is in psychology ... in some roundabout way she now gets to help others pursue that goal.

"Her name will always be kept alive at Whitewater."


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« Reply #901 on: December 22, 2009, 06:25:22 PM »

Director Asks Judge Webster to Conduct Independent Review

Crime Blotter
December 22, 2009

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III has asked Judge William H. Webster to conduct an independent review of FBI policies, practices, and actions prior to the tragic events at Fort Hood. Following the November 5, 2009 shootings, Director Mueller ordered an immediate, preliminary review of the FBI´s actions, as well any relevant policies and procedures that may have impacted FBI efforts before the shootings. The preliminary review has been completed, and Judge Webster will now lead an independent, outside effort that will look both at the initial findings and allow for additional review as he and his staff determine.

"As a former FBI director, director of central intelligence, and federal judge, Judge Webster is uniquely qualified to undertake this task and look at the procedures and actions involved in this matter," Mueller said. "He, in the past, has led independent reviews of various FBI systems and broader policies and provided valuable recommendations. In this case, Judge Webster will have complete access and whatever resources necessary to complete the task."

Judge Webster will coordinate his review with similar reviews underway by Department of Defense (DOD) and DOD-appointed officials, and will follow the DOD time frames. Mueller emphasized that Judge Webster´s review will be careful not to interfere with the ongoing, Army-led shooting inquiry and military legal proceedings.

"We must be sure that the systems we have in place give investigators the tools they need to carry out their responsibilities. At the same time, we must ensure constitutional protections and the confidence of the American public we serve," Mueller said. "It is essential to determine whether there are improvements to our current practices or other authorities that could make us all safer in the future


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« Reply #902 on: December 22, 2009, 06:36:00 PM »

Video:  Pentagon: Islam Expert Fired for Telling the Truth

Pentagon Muslim Policy Set by Adviser with Terrorist Ties
Written by Joe Wolverton, II   
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 15:39

In Matthew 13:57, Jesus informed doubter and disciple alike that, “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house.” Former Pentagon Islamist specialist, Stephen Coughlin can testify to the truthfulness of the Lord’s lamentation. His replacement, Egyptian-born Hesham Islam, can testify to the truthfulness of another maxim, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

In 2001, former Lockheed and General Dynamics executive Gordon England was appointed by President George W. Bush to be Secretary of the Navy and soon thereafter, Hesham Islam joined his staff. When England, known condescendingly in intelligence circles as “Gullible Gordon,” ascended to the number two spot at the Pentagon (replacing notorious neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz) he took his protégé, Hesham Islam, with him.

Officially, Islam is England’s senior adviser of international affairs; unofficially he is the Pentagon’s point of contact with the Muslim community, attending fetes and addressing outreach forums hosted by a diverse spectrum of religious groups including the ignominious Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization with nefarious connections that Islam and England invited to closed-door meetings at England’s office at the Department of Defense.

The intimacy and access afforded to the ISNA is worrisome to some terrorism experts already wary of the seemingly inexplicable dismissal of Coughlin, a noted and respected authority on the subject of American radical Islamists. One expert went so far as to describe Hesham Islam as “an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators.” Those are the measured words of an educated man who recognizes alarming trends in the Pentagon’s official treatment of an organization identified in a federal suit filed by the Department of Justice in Texas as an affiliate of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. And, furthermore, the Brotherhood has partnered with another radical group, the Holy Land Foundation, in a scheme to funnel money to Hamas, the infamous and murderous Palestinian terrorist group whose intifadas and jihads have resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians throughout the Middle East.

Why would a man with questionable qualifications (his official biography was removed from the Defense Department website after reporters identified numerous inconsistencies), specious experience (he brings little to the diplomatic table other than close ties of nationality and religion to Islamist extremists), and open hostility to American interests (in his master’s thesis, Hesham Islam decries the influence exerted by American Jews on American foreign policy, including the hampering of arms sales to “friendly Arab states”) be glowingly praised by his boss as “my close confidante” and the close counselor whose advice he listens to “all the time?” And the more important question — and one whose answer is perhaps critical to the security of the United States — why would such a man displant another man (Stephen Coughlin) whose work was universally acclaimed by his superiors (with the exception of England) for its foresight and perspicacity? There is no clear answer, but a brief survey of Coughlin’s recent research might reveal a clue to his demotion.

According to published reports, since 2002, Mr. Coughlin has made it “his mission to set aside the feel-good assumptions about Islam which have been guiding U.S. strategy and take an unblinkered look at the facts.” One of the most salient of these facts that were being exposed and examined by Mr. Coughlin was the probably presence in the United States armed forces of Muslim radicals with a furtive goal of carrying out the militant and murderous aims of jihad. Coughlin warned the Pentagon brass that there were dedicated jihadists wearing the uniform of the United States of America and lying in wait to attack their fellow soldiers in furtherance of their warped religious principles.

Another example of Coughlin’s warning voice being raised is his own thesis to the National Defense Intelligence College, entitled “To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad,” wherein Coughlin cites extensive evidence of radical Islamists calling for their devotees to work undercover to subvert the U.S. military and to “destroy Western civilization from within.” In light of the November 5 atrocity at Fort Hood committed by a major in the United States Army and a self-proclaimed “Soldier of Allah,” Mr. Coughlin’s admonitions seem eerily prophetic.

The problem with Mr. CoughlinGordonEngland-t-ap from the Pentagon’s point of view has less to do with his foresight than with the politically incorrect tenor of his scholarship. He has no axe to grind, but feels it his duty to alert America’s military leaders to the threat posed by Islamic radicals and their sleeper cells within and without the ranks of America’s armed forces. Mr. Islam has no such magnanimous motive — quite the opposite, in fact. As one senior Army intelligence officer reportedly said, “We’ve got terrorist supporters calling the shots on our policies towards Muslims from the highest levels.”

Gordon England’s promotion and patronage of Hesham Islam, and the ratification of that deplorable and potentially dangerous decision by Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs, despite (maybe even because of?) Mr. Islam’s unrepentant and cozy connections with avowed international purveyors of terror seem to indicate a willingness by our own defense establishment to embrace the doctrines and deeds of militant Islamists and their high-ranking mouthpiece masquerading as a peaceful policy adviser.


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« Reply #903 on: December 23, 2009, 01:13:03 PM »

At Fort Hood, a 'sense of sorrow' clouds holidays

By Donna Leinwand and Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY
For the first time in 22 years, Sheryll Pearson won't put up a Christmas tree. Suddenly, the holiday she's always loved is "horrible."

Pearson's son, Mikey — Army Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, who specialized in defusing bombs — is dead, gunned down last month in the rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with the slayings.

For families of the victims, for the injured and for the many who call the post at Fort Hood home, the Nov. 5 tragedy remains a fresh, stinging wound in what should be a joyous holiday season. Injured soldiers are wrestling with rehab as their units deploy overseas. Soldiers who live at Fort Hood have put on a brave face as they regain their sense of security. Professional counselors and chaplains are trying to help everyone make sense of it all.

The soldiers at Fort Hood are accustomed to witnessing death. The sprawling, 340-square-mile post between Dallas and Austin is one of the largest military installations in the world, home to about 50,000 soldiers. Among the units based there is the 1st Cavalry, which has sent troops for multiple tours of duty in Iraq.

Yet the deaths they've witnessed have been in combat, not at home — not in the place they expect to find solace and security.

"People are grappling with the unthinkable having happened," says Maxine Trent, a marriage and family therapist who coordinates Scott & White's Military Homefront Services, a counseling program for soldiers and their families in Killeen, the community that surrounds the post.

In November, 35 people sought counseling related to the massacre, and another 32 sought help for combat stress, Trent says. As Christmas approaches, she expects more people to seek help.

"People are trying to figure out how to feel safe again. There's just a pervasive sense of sorrow," Trent says. "The holidays can be a difficult time anyway."

Col. Edward McCabe, senior chaplain at Fort Hood and a Catholic priest, says organizations at the post will reach out to soldiers who cannot go home for the holidays with open houses and small gatherings. He says he worries about the emotional health of the soldiers and their families.

"Even as we approach Christmas, there's a residual angry, aggressive sentiment among the soldiers that remains," he says. "I think it is very much related to the big incident of the shooting, but I can't define it precisely."

Soldiers who witnessed the shooting, victims, families of victims and community members will view the tragedy from a different perspective and will have to cope with a wide array of feelings, Trent says.

The soldiers who have come to her clinic are talking about "the trauma of what they saw and the experience of the day," she says. "Some have very grotesque, vivid images. Others are wondering about the senseless loss of life. There were people who were grievously wounded. The folks who were at 'ground zero' and felt a direct threat to their lives will have different issues than people who weren't."

'I'm lucky to be alive'

Staff Sgt. Joy Clark, 27, of Des Moines, a licensed occupational therapist assistant scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as part of a mental health team, was among those at "ground zero."

She had been at Fort Hood just 24 hours when a bullet pierced her forearm, shattered a bone and shredded an artery. Surgeons grafted bone from her hip to the bone in her forearm. It will be a month before she'll know whether the graft worked, and then at least six months of healing and rehabilitation to regain strength and range of motion in the arm, she says.

"The people immediately to my left and my right both died, so I'm lucky to be alive," Clark says. "I'm so grateful for that."

She and her husband, a draftsman at a real estate firm, returned to Des Moines just before Thanksgiving.

They'll spend Christmas with their families and try to get tickets to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., to see Iowa State play Minnesota. She's focusing on her rehab, and hopes to be biking, hiking and fishing by summer.

"We got her back," says Clark's father, Jerry Nelson. "There's a lot to be thankful for. Starting at the top, selfishly, she's alive. The surgeons were able to save her arm. All the rest of her battle buddies, our heart goes out to them."

Christmas will be as it always is, with family over to the house on Christmas Day, he says.

"I think we've done all the patting each other on the back and hugging already," he says. "Just having her home here is great."

Emotionally, he says, his daughter seems to be doing OK.

"We've talked about it. She's a pretty tough cookie," Nelson says. "She's had training on trauma. I think for Joy, she's had those kind of experiences that will help her cope with this situation."

But Nelson says he's still getting over the shock.

"When you walk into a hospital room like that, I'm not looking at Staff Sgt. Joy Nelson Clark. I'm looking at my daughter," Nelson says. "I didn't see the soldier. I saw my little girl. It's been an emotional situation. We feel very, very lucky that she is a survivor. And some weren't. It was that close and that quick."

As part of a mental health unit, Clark says she's keenly aware of how families and her fellow soldiers will cope with their pain and sorrow. Three people in her unit died in the shootings, she says, and 17 were injured.

"There were a few who survived but were too wounded to deploy. We lost people we know," Clark says. "Of course, we're going to grieve. There's some anger there. What's nice is that there are so many resources available. The Army understands we need time to deal."

Still, the mission continues. Those in her unit who survived uninjured deployed to Afghanistan the first week of December.

'It just brings sadness'

Many of the soldiers who did not deploy are on leave until February or remain at Fort Hood, which buzzes with activity as the holidays approach.

One Fort Hood housing area transformed its community center into a Santa's Workshop, with gingerbread cookies and crafts for the kids. Latrice Russell, 26, wife of an Army specialist who has deployed three times to Iraq, volunteered as Santa's elf. The tragedy, she says, has awakened an urge to help others.

"I didn't personally know anybody (wounded or killed), but it felt like I did," says Russell, who has lived at Fort Hood for six months. "My heart went out to the families and the kids. They go to Iraq and fight and then to be here at home and something like that happens — it's terrible."

After the shooting, Fort Hood officials added more military police patrols to Darnell Army Medical Center and health treatment areas on the post where some of the injured were cared for "to ease fears and act as a deterrent," the Army says on the Fort Hood website.

Fort Hood also is increasing the number of random vehicle checks to look for unregistered firearms and requiring soldiers to register all firearms with police on the post.

Melissa Gonzales, 37, who moved to the post with her three teenagers the day before the shootings, has noticed small changes.

"I think they're taking extra precautions now," she says, noting that guards now scrutinize the front and back of her ID. "They're more serious. Everyone is just a little more alert."

She didn't known anyone killed or injured in the massacre but feels the grief around her.

"I think when you see military soldiers lose their life in their own territory, it just brings sadness to everyone here," she says.

Michael Craft, 29, who served eight years in the military until February 2007, met his wife, Krishonda, in 2000 at the same building where the gunshots rang out last month. Then it was a sports bar called Sports USA. He says he's been in that building "thousands of times."

"I never thought somebody from the military would ever do something like that. That was the furthest thing from my mind," Craft says.

Krishonda Craft, 31, who decked out their three daughters in felt antlers for Killeen's Christmas parade, says the shootings drew the community together.

The community has weathered the deaths of soldiers for years and knows how to move past adversity, her husband adds.

"They take a lot here on the chin," he says. "This is a tougher town. It happens a lot here. We lose our soldiers. You have to move on through it."

Counting on kindness

For Sheryll Pearson, the pain remains acute as she remembers Christmases past and tries to push through her sadness.

Christmas last year was the best, Pearson says. Her whole family gathered at their home in Bolingbrook, Ill., including Mikey, the youngest of her four children, who was on a two-week leave. It was the last time she saw him.

"Everybody was here. All my kids were together, all my grandchildren. I made a ham dinner," she says. "He was supposed to be home for this Christmas."

Pearson's son, she says, was particularly giving and loved Christmas. He put thought into his gifts, such as the elegant jewelry box painted with birds he bought for her one Mother's Day.

"He knew I loved birds," she says, through tears. "Michael loved to learn and he loved to see places. He was very outgoing."

If he didn't have a military career, he wanted to teach music theory, she says. "But he joined to serve his country and to expand his horizons."

She'll struggle through her first Christmas without Mikey for the sake of her 11 grandchildren, her sole distraction from grief.

Her casualty officer — a soldier the Army assigns to help military families after a loved one dies or is injured while on active duty — pushes her to get out of the house. She calls him "Major."

"Major made me go out Christmas shopping for the grandchildren," she says. "It's just hard."

McCabe, the post's senior chaplain, understands how difficult the holidays are for military families seared by deaths and injuries to loved ones, or fractured by frequent deployments.

This year, in his first Christmas Mass after the tragic shootings at Fort Hood, he says he'll emphasize the power of goodness even amid violence and tragedy.

"You have to believe," McCabe says, "that the kindness and generosity and the love that people have always, always triumphs over evil and violence."

Leinwand reported from Washington. Jayson reported from Fort Hood, Texas.


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« Reply #904 on: December 23, 2009, 01:34:53 PM »

Domestic Terror Incidents Hit a Peak in 2009

By  Bobby Ghosh / Washington   Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

You may not have noticed because most of the plots were foiled, but 2009 saw an unprecedented surge in terror "events" on U.S. soil. When analysts tally these events, they refer to anything from a disrupted plot to U.S. citizens traveling abroad to seek terror training or a lone gunman running amok in the U.S. And by the calculations of Rand Corporation expert Brian Jenkins, more terrorist threats were uncovered in the U.S. during 2009 than in any year since 2001.

"There appears to be an increase in [terrorist] activity in the U.S.," warns Jenkins, who calculates that there have been 32 terror-related "events" on these shores since 9/11, and that 12 of those occurred in 2009. (See the top 10 inept terrorist plots.)

Some of the more noteworthy "events" of 2009:

• In January, Bryant Neal Vinas, a Long Island convert to Islam, plead guilty to helping al-Qaeda in a plot to blow up a train in Penn Station.

• Late in 2008, Shirwa Ahmed, a Somali-American college student from Minneapolis, became the first American suicide bomber on record when he killed 29 people in an attack in Somalia. Earlier in the year, the FBI had revealed that at least 20 Somali-Americans from the Minneapolis area had traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, a radical militia tied to al-Qaeda. Five Somali-Americans are believed to have died in fighting there this year, and Somali officials say at least one more unnamed American citizen has become a suicide bomber on behalf of al-Shabab. (See pictures of a Jihadist's journey.)

• In June, Abdulhakim Muhammed, an Arkansas convert to Islam, was accused of killing one soldier and wounding another in an attack at a military recruitment center in Little Rock.

• In September, an Illinois man, Michael Finton, who converted to Islam in prison, was accused of trying to blow up a Federal building in Springfield.

• In October, David Coleman Headley, a Chicago businessman, was arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper that had published controversial cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammed. (Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian resident of Chicago was also arrested in connection with the same plot.) Headley was later additionally charged with abetting the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008. (Read "The Chicago Suspect: Are Pakistani Jihadis Going Global?.")

• In November, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrants who had grown up in the U.S., was accused of going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, killing 13 and wounding 30. (Read "The FBI Probe: What Went Wrong at Fort Hood?.")

• Also in November, eight Somali-American men from Minnesota were charged with terrorism-related counts involving al-Shabaab. Six other had been charged previously. Most of the men were charged in absentia because they remain in Somalia, along with dozens of Somali-Americans who are believed to have joined the Qaeda-linked militia.

• And earlier this month, five men from the Washington, D.C., area were detained in Pakistan, where local officials say they had been trying to join the fight against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Ramy Zamzam, said to be the leader of the group, is a Howard University dental student; two others are sons of businessmen.

• Some other cases involve legal residents who are not U.S. citizens, such as Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan suspect arrested in Denver and charged with a plot to bomb targets in New York, and Jordanian Hosam Smadi, arrested in Dallas, accused of trying blow up a skyscraper. (Read "Three Key Questions About Zazi and Terrorism.")

Terrorism experts and Muslim community leaders caution that the spurt in such events doesn't necessarily add up to a trend. For one thing, the cases are unconnected. "Each case has its own special circumstances," says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Nor is there likely to be wide-scale extremism in the American Muslim community. Jenkins points out that that there's "no underground network, and no deep reservoir of resentment." Hooper notes that the problem "is not coming from rhetoric within the community; it's not the case that young men are being radicalized in American mosques."

Indeed, one of the lessons of 2009 is that the Internet can suffice as a recruitment tool for extremists. From Smadi to the Virginia Five, many of the men accused of terrorist-related activities in the past year first made contact with jihadist groups online, officials say. "More and more people are going online to find inspiration," says Danny Coulson, a former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI.

Jihadist recruiters have grown increasingly sophisticated in their use of the Internet, and many of them specifically target American audiences. Extremist e-preachers such as Anwar al-Awlaki, an American living in Yemen who exchanged e-mails with Maj. Hasan, communicate in English, which makes them more accessible to American Muslims. Pakistani authorities believe the Virginia Five were recruited by a man known as Saifullah, who communicated mainly through e-mails.

Not all jihadi recruiters want their American recruits to travel abroad for training or to join existing groups. "They've figured out that people who travel to Pakistan or Afghanistan or Somalia are probably being watched by the authorities," says Coulson. "So they'll just encourage you to act independently, without direct affiliation with any group. That makes it harder for law enforcement."

The good news: If recruiters can use the Internet, so too can U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Terrorism experts say U.S. authorities have become much better at finding plotters online, and putting them under surveillance. Smadi, for instance, was first spotted on a jihadi website.

Coulson argues, in fact, that one reason so many terrorism-related cases popped up in 2009 was the improvement in the ability of U.S. authorities to detect plots. It helps, too, that ordinary Americans have grown more alert to the danger. "More and more people will call in the police or FBI when they see something suspicious going on," he says.

Also, the American Muslim community has become better at nipping potential threats in the bud. In the case of the Virginia Five, the families of the men approached CAIR, which encouraged them to get a lawyer and make contact with the FBI. Hooper says community leaders are working harder to promote mainstream Islamic thinking among younger American Muslims, to counter extremist interpretations they may discover online.

Despite these efforts, however, terrorism experts warn that some American Muslims will continue to succumb to extremist calls for holy war against their own country. Some will be inflamed by the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, says Hooper: "Extremists use U.S. foreign policy as a recruitment tool."

Jenkins suggests there may also be a generational conflict at work: He points out that many of the American Muslims accused of terrorism this year are young men, who "would have been at a very impressionable age when 9/11 happened." Although the majority of the community were repelled by the terrorist attacks on that day, he says, "some would have been inspired by it and caught up in the jihadist narrative."

If 2009 alerted Americans to the domestic terror threat, it's a safe bet that there will be more reminders of the danger in 2010.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1949329,00.html?xid=rss-topstories#ixzz0aXQCEgyC


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« Reply #905 on: December 23, 2009, 01:41:37 PM »

Should the U.S. Destroy Jihadist Websites?

By  Mark Thompson / Washington   Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

The Internet has played a key role in radicalizing a number of key players in alleged terror plots this year. From Fort Hood accused shooter Nidal Hasan to the five young Americans detained in Pakistan this month allegedly en route to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan, authorities claim the suspects needed no face-to-face contact with jihadist recruiters. Instead, the Internet is serving as an electronic funnel for extremists to infuse U.S.-based Muslims with a justification for jihad.

But wait a minute. The U.S. military invented the Internet 40 years ago. Why can't it simply hunt down and destroy the web sites that inspire murderous fanatics? While the Saudi government estimates there are 17,000 such websites, most experts say that only around a half-dozen of these generate original material. "Most jihad cyber domains initiate very little, if any, original discussion, primarily reposting material from popular jihad forums," said a report earlier this month from MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, an organization that monitors and translates much jihadist material. "Hence, disabling the few prominent domains could seriously cripple Islamists' ability to conduct mass online discussions, and could also hamper the rapid spread of jihad material in cyberspace." (See pictures of a Jihadist's Journey.)

The topic is now the subject of increasing debate. On one side are military theorists such as John Arquilla of the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, who believe that driving militant Islamists off the web would destroy their ability to carry out jihad. But scholars such as Chris Boucek, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, maintain that defeating online jihad won't happen by shutting down websites — they say the best antidote to jihadist websites is countering their arguments for killing with better-reasoned Islamic logic.

Last week the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing into the topic just as Arquilla was arguing in a post on Foreign Affairs magazine's website that the time had come to view al-Qaeda's cyberspace as a battlefield. "Instead of thinking of cyberspace principally as a place to gather intelligence, we need to elevate it to the status of 'battlespace,'" he argued. "This means that we either want to exploit terrorists' use of the Web and Net unbeknownst to them, or we want to drive them from it." Arquilla tells TIME that al-Qaeda doesn't "put people on planes anymore because they know we're good at spotting them, and if we take away cyberspace we would achieve a crippling effect on the global terror network." (Read "The Chicago Suspect: Are Pakistani Jihadis Going Global?")

But Arquilla's logic doesn't add up, counters Evan Kohlmann of the non-profit NEFA Foundation, created following 9/11 to track Islamic terrorism. Shutting down jihadist web sites "would be like firing cruise missiles at our own spy satellites," he argues, referring to the intelligence the U.S. and its allies glean from such sites. Besides, it can't be done. "If you shut down one of their websites today, they have a complete copy elsewhere and can put it up on a new server and have it up tomorrow," Kohlmann says. Such websites are the only window the rest of the world has into al-Qaeda and other such groups. "If you start shutting down the websites," he adds, "it's like chopping up a jellyfish — you end up with lots of little pieces that are very difficult to monitor." Kohlmann believes that the websites are a treasure trove of valuable intelligence, most of which is being overlooked by the U.S.

And there seems to be growing support for the view that instead of trying to blow up al-Qaeda's websites, it may make more sense to battle their ideology online with better arguments. "We're talking about a movement that's based on ideas and grievances, so we need to understand those ideas and grievances," Boucek says. "Failing to engage in debate on those issues means we're ceding all of that to them, and that makes no sense to me."

At the recent House subcommittee hearing, Boucek lauded a Saudi program where government-funded religious scholars go online to assorted jihadi websites and debate what is and isn't permitted by Islam. "They try to show people that there's a different way than what they might be thinking," he told the panel. "This is basically saying, 'If you go online to look for answers about religion and you listen to these guys, you'll go off on the wrong track'." The Saudis, in their so-called Sakina campaign, then take these written chats and post them elsewhere. "There's a multiplying effect when they put this on their website for other people to read," Boucek said. "Also on their website are different documents and studies, recantation videos, things like that that explain extremism and radicalization."

Boucek and other experts believe Washington should launch a a similar program with experts going onto jihadi websites and arguing with young Muslims over what the Koran allows. The approach shouldn't be heavy-handed and would probably be better handled by academics than by government officials. "You can't have the American military telling people what their religion allows," Boucek says. But someone, he adds, should be arguing the other side on these websites. "It's shocking to me that eight years into this conflict, we don't have a formal institution doing this."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1949373,00.html#ixzz0aXS0ssSc


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« Reply #906 on: December 23, 2009, 01:54:33 PM »

Fort Hood victim to visit valley

Sgt. Shawn Manning to see family in Hailey and Twin Falls

Express Staff Writer

Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning, a Twin Falls native who was severely wounded in last month's shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, will visit family next week in the Magic and Wood River valleys, his mother confirmed Monday.

"He will be here during the holidays," said Shari Taylor, who lives in Hailey. Manning's brother Brian Manning also lives in Hailey and his sister Kym Lott and her husband, Eric, live in Twin Falls. Shawn Manning and his wife, Autumn, currently live in Lacey, Wash.

"He's still in a lot of pain, and he's got some healing to do, but it's a miracle he survived at all and will have no permanent injuries," Taylor said.

Manning was one of 42 people, mostly soldiers undergoing processing for overseas deployment, shot at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, allegedly by Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Thirteen of them died.

Manning, one of the first victims, was shot six times, once in the chest, three times in the abdomen and once each in a leg and foot. Manning's family reported earlier that "all of the shots missed major organs and arteries."


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« Reply #907 on: December 24, 2009, 07:13:39 AM »

Imam Linked to Ft. Hood Rampage Believed Among 30 Al Qaeda Killed in Airstrike

Thursday, December 24, 2009
The radical Muslim imam linked to the rampage at Fort Hood is believed to have been killed in a Yemen airstrike that may have also taken out the region's top Al Qaeda leader and 30 other militants, a security official told Reuters on Thursday.
The raid in Yemen's east targeted an Al Qaeda leadership meeting held to organize terror attacks. It is believed to have killed Anwar al-Awlaki and at least two senior members in the organization, including the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Awlaki is suspected to be dead [in the air raid]," Reuters quoted an unnamed Yemeni official as saying.

The head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasser al-Wahishi and his deputy, Saeed al-Saudi Shahrani, were present at the meeting and are believed to have died, but their deaths could not immediately be confirmed.

"The raid was carried out as dozens of members of Al Qaeda were meeting in Wadi Rafadh," a source told AFP, referring to a rugged location about 400 miles east of the capital.

"Members of the group's leadership, including Saad al-Fathani and Mohammad Ahmed Saleh al-Omir, were among those killed," he was quoted as saying.

"Saudis and Iranians at the Wadi Rafadh meeting were also among the dead," said the source, without going into detail.

In an interview posted on Al Jazeera's web site, al-Awlaki said he received an email from Maj. Nidal Hasan on Dec. 17, 2008, "asking for an edict regarding the [possibility] of a Muslim soldier [killing] colleagues who serve with him in the American army."
Awlaki, born in the U.S., said subsequent emails "mentioned the religious justifications for targeting the Jews with missiles"

A Yemeni official, also speaking on condition of anonymity to AFP, said those attending the meeting "planned to launch terrorist attacks against economic installations in Yemen, in retaliation for Yemeni strikes launched last week."

On Dec. 17, warplanes and security forces on the ground attacked what authorities said was an Al Qaeda training camp in the area of Mahsad in the southern province of Abyan. Saleh el-Shamsy, a provincial security official, said at least 30 suspected militants were killed. Witnesses, however, put the number killed at over 60 in the heaviest strike and said the dead were mostly civilians.

Much like the effort with Pakistan's Frontier Corps, the U.S. military has boosted its counterterrorism training for Yemeni forces, and is providing more intelligence, which probably includes surveillance by unmanned drones, according to U.S. officials and analysts.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry said 25 suspected Al Qaeda members were arrested Wednesday in San'a and it has set up checkpoints in the capital to control traffic flow as part of a campaign to clamp down on terrorism.

The United States has repeatedly called on Yemen to take stronger action against Al Qaeda, whose fighters have taken advantage of the central government's weakness and increasingly found refuge here in the past year. Worries over the growing presence are compounded by fears that Yemen could collapse into turmoil from its multiple conflicts and increasing poverty and become another Afghanistan, giving the militants even freer reign.

The country was scene of one of Al Qaeda's most dramatic pre-9/11 attacks, the 2000 suicide bombing of the destroyer USS Cole off the Aden coast that killed 17 American sailors. The government allied itself with Washington in the war on terror, but U.S officials have complained that it often strikes deals with militants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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« Reply #908 on: December 26, 2009, 07:04:40 PM »

This SITE Intelligence Group handout photo obtained Nov. 10, 2009, shows Anwar al-Awlaki, a former... Expand
This SITE Intelligence Group handout photo obtained Nov. 10, 2009, shows Anwar al-Awlaki, a former U.S. resident living in Yemen and accused al Qaeda supporter, who commented on his Web site Nov. 9, 2009, that the attack at Fort Hood, perpetrated by the alleged gunman, Maj. Nidal Hasan, was a "heroic act." Sources tell ABC News that an air raid in Yemen this morning may have killed two top al Qaeda officials as well as the imam believed to have inspired the alleged Fort Hood shooter. Collapse
(SITE Intelligence Group/AFP/Newscom/AP Graphic)

Radical Yemeni Cleric Believed Unhurt in Airstrike

Relatives: Radical Yemeni cleric not harmed in government air raid on al-Qaida meeting
By AHMED AL-HAJ Associated Press Writer
SAN'A, Yemen December 25, 2009 (AP)

A U.S.-born radical cleric is alive and well following reports he may have been killed in a Yemeni airstrike against suspected al-Qaida hideouts, friends and relatives said Friday.

The government said it targeted a meeting of high-level al-Qaida operatives in Thursday's airstrike in the remote Shabwa region. It claimed at least 30 militants were killed, possibly including Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric who has been linked to the shooter in last month's attack at the Fort Hood military base in the U.S.

On Friday, a friend of the cleric, Abu Bakr al-Awlaki, told The Associated Press he was not among those killed. He refused to say if the cleric was attending the meeting.

Abu Bakr al-Awlaki was in Shabwa and in contact with the gunmen in control of the area following the strike. He is not related to the cleric, but the two are from the same tribe and carry the same last name.

Thursday's airstrikes were the second in a week against al-Qaida and were carried out with U.S. and Saudi intelligence help. The newly aggressive Yemeni campaign, backed by American aid, reflects Washington's fears that the terror network could turn this fragmented, unstable nation into an Afghanistan-like refuge in a highly strategic location on the border with oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni government said it struck a gathering of senior al-Qaida figures in Rafd, a remote mountain valley in eastern Shabwa province, where they were plotting new terror attacks.

In addition to al-Awlaki, the top leader of al-Qaida's branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, and his deputy Saeed al-Shihri were also believed to be at the meeting, Yemen's Supreme Security Committee said.

But Yemeni officials still have no access to the area, which is controlled by armed gunmen and supporters of al-Qaida, and could not confirm for certain who was killed in the attack.

Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

In Washington, a U.S. government official who was briefed on the strike told The Associated Press that there has been no confirmation yet of who was killed in the strike. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the attack.

Al-Awlaki was born in the United States and moved back to Yemen in 2002. Al-Awlaki reportedly corresponded by e-mail with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov.5.

People close to al-Alwaki said it is unlikely the cleric would be sitting through a field meeting convened by fighters, considering he saw his role as a scholar and one that gives religious advises and rulings.

The cleric's brother, who only agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said he also received assurances that his older sibling is still alive.

A tribal chief in Shabwa, who only used his alias Abu Mohammed, said he was informed that Anwar al-Alwaki was alive and is unharmed. He refused to elaborate.

So far, residents of the area and relatives of those killed say six bodies have been retrieved from the area of the strike and buried. The relatives spoke on condition of anonymity because they were still at the area controlled by the gunmen.


AP writer Pamela Hess contributed to this report from Washington.



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« Reply #909 on: December 26, 2009, 07:20:29 PM »


Sunday December 27,2009
By Ted Jeory

AN AL QAEDA commander whose messages have been promoted at British mosques and universities was last night named as the inspiration for the Friday’s failed US bomb plot.

Yemen-based cleric Anwar al Awlaki, a spiritual leader of the 9/11 hijackers and of Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan, was said to be the man who demanded the attack on the Detroit-bound jet.

Senior Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra said that according to his US intelligence sources, Awlaki and the failed bomber, University College London student Umar Abdulmutallab, had been in touch with each before Friday’s flight.

The 38-year-old cleric is believed to have been the target of a US-backed Yemeni air strike last week.

Security sources believe the military assault was launched after American, Yemeni and Saudi intelligence services discovered major terror plots against Western targets.

Initial reports suggested that Awlaki and dozens of other Al Qaeda operatives were killed, but his allies claim he survived.

If his links to the Northwest Airlines bomb are confirmed, it will again expose the increasing threat of radicalisation on Britain’s university campuses.

Although an inspiration for mass murder, the American born imam is a hero to Islamic student societies throughout Britain.

He is invited regularly to send video messages to students who believe he is a devout man of peace.

He has also spoken at the radical East London Mosque, while his work has been promoted by its controversial offshoots, the Islamic Forum Europe and the Young Muslim Organisation.
Just yesterday, hours after the US terror plot, students at the City University Islamic Society in London were defending Awlaki on their message board.

They said his attackers were “liars and evil doers” and called for him and Al Qaeda “soldiers” to be blessed.

Last night, shadow community cohesion minister Paul Goodman urged the Government to protect students from extremist preachers.

He said: “Whether or not Awlaki turns out to be linked to this horrendous terror attempt, there’s no doubt that some individuals, organisations and Islamic religious organisations defended and promoted Awlaki long after it was clear that he was a supporter of violent extremism.

“The Government has got a duty to ensure that these organisations are reminded that tolerance of extremism is unacceptable to mainstream Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

Mr Goodman’s comments were echoed last night by the Centre for Social Cohesion think tank (CSC), which has long warned about the danger of radicalisation on college campuses.

Last year it published the findings of a controversial poll, which found that a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of religion can be justified.

It warned that student Islamic Societies were operating unchecked and exerting too much influence over more vulnerable students.

In another report, it specifically detailed Awlaki’s long history of sermons in Britain.

It said his speeches were advertised for an event at London University in 2003, the same year that he was invited as a “distinguished guest” at the annual dinner of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

He was also advertised as a speaker at Westminster University in 2006, while last April, the City University Islamic Society invited him to deliver a sermon by video.

The university only banned the screening after public pressure from the CSC.

Think tank spokesman Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens said university authorities consistently “turn a blind eye to the problem of radicalisation on their campuses”.

He said: “We spend much of our time informing them of the extremist nature of preachers invited by the Islamic societies, yet they tend to follow a ‘shoot the messenger approach’.

“They ignore our advice and instead criticise us for supposedly trying to sow tension and division.

“The latest incident involving a London University student comes as no surprise to those who follow campus extremism.

“Universities must begin to take more seriously the effect that hate preachers have in poisoning young minds.”

He said that it was no longer right for university bosses to hide behind the “free speech” argument and urged them not to be afraid of being wrongly labelled Islamophobic.

“Although a noble sentiment, it is also staggeringly naive considering the integral role preachers like Awlaki play in the radicalisation process,” he said.

“The sooner universities wake up and accept the reality of what is happening under their noses, the safer we will be from terrorist attack.

“Universities must have staff who are able to identify extremists, and must also not be afraid to expose them for fear of being labelled racist or Islamophobic.”

He added: “A number of Islamic societies, like that of City University and UCL, currently operate almost totally unhindered, and have free rein to invite and promote any extremist they want.”

Last night, another think tank found more evidence linking Awlaki to Abdulmutallab’s former student colleagues at University College London.

It found that the college’s Islamic society has been raising money for the Ummah Welfare Trust, a charity whose account with Barclays Bank was closed earlier this year over its connections to the Hamas-supporting Interpal charity.

Awlaki is designated as one of the trust’s favourite speakers.

Haras Rafiq, spokesman for Counter Extremism Consultancy Research and Interventions, said: “More and more Islamic societies are continuing to invite speakers that have extremist views and are hence giving them access to young impressionable minds. They are bound to have an effect on their audience.

“They have to be more diligent on who they invite and ensure that they are not giving legitimacy to people who preach hate and violence. This has been going on for far too long and has to stop now.”

Previous attempts to teach university staff how to spot extremists have been met by Islamic student leaders with warnings of racism.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies has said that “demonising Muslims is unacceptable and dangerous, whether in educational institutions or in communities”.


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« Reply #910 on: December 26, 2009, 07:33:20 PM »

Exclusive photo: Farouk Abdul Muttallab

 Northwest Airlines bomber is son of prominent Nigerian, banker Dr. Muttallab   

Written by Saharareporters, New York   
Saturday, 26 December 2009 02:30

Saharareporters has identified the family of Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the 23 year old would–be bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253, who was arrested yesterday in Detroit, Michigan.  He is the son of the recently retired Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutallab.


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« Reply #911 on: December 26, 2009, 07:36:11 PM »

Dallas newspaper recognizes Fort Hood heroes

Associated Press
Dec. 26, 2009, 11:48AM

DALLAS — Declining to single out just one, the Dallas Morning News named “the heroes” of Fort Hood its Texan of the Year.

The recognition comes less than two months after a shooting spree at one of the nation's largest military posts left 13 dead and 29 wounded. An Army psychiatrist has been charged in the deaths.

The heroes include civilian police officers Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, who shot the gunman and ended the shooting spree, and a number of soldiers who helped others when they themselves were wounded.

But the list of heroes at Fort Hood “goes far beyond the casualties and responders involved in the Nov. 5 shooting rampage,” the newspaper wrote for a Saturday edition story.

Men, women and even children on and off the base have embraced the call to duty and service, the newspaper said. They're not looking for personal glory or attention and they serve because they firmly believe in their mission, it said.

Fort Hood spokesman Christopher Haug said everyone at the post appreciated the award and was grateful for the support they've received.

“Central Texas and Texas as a whole has been very supportive of the military,” Haug said. “This is just an honor for the folks here and the sacrifices that they make in order to ensure America's freedom.”

Deployments at Fort Hood have increased from 5,850 troops in 2005 to 43,000 last year with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troop morale and re-enlistments have suffered because soldiers sent overseas are worried about their children and spouses, Army officials said.

“I honestly believe the family pays more in these conflicts than the soldiers do,” says Sgt. Maj. Daniel E. Szczepankiewicz of the Warrior Transition Brigade at Fort Hood. “When we deploy, although it's much more dangerous, it's much easier” emotionally.

Fort Hood commanders have turned increasingly to the surrounding communities of Killeen, Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Belton, Temple and Harker Heights for help with programs intended to make life easier for families.

For example, schools throughout the area have support groups to help students cope with parents' multiple deployments, stress in families and marriages and death.

“Fort Hood is the epicenter of sacrifice,” said Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, praising the community's efforts to help the soldiers' families.

Although no one wants to downplay the significance of the Nov. 5 shooting spree, many associated with the sprawling Central Texas base said they don't want one tragedy to eclipse the sacrifices thousands of others in their community have made.

“At Fort Hood, it's all personal,” the newspaper wrote. “It's all family.”

While the shooting drew attention to the mental strain borne by many in the military, it also showed the remarkable ability soldiers, their spouses and their children have “to suck it up and remain focused on the mission,” the newspaper said.

Fort Hood's heroes are the seventh recipients of the newspaper's Texan of the Year award. Last year, Craig Watkins, the state's first black district attorney, was honored.


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« Reply #912 on: December 26, 2009, 07:45:46 PM »

U.S. Charges Suspect, Eyeing Link to Qaeda in Yemen

WASHINGTON — The 23-year-old Nigerian man who was charged on Saturday with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas told investigators he had obtained explosive chemicals from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a law enforcement official said.

Authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection claimed by the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was burned in his failed attempt to bring down the airliner. But the law enforcement official said the suspect’s account was “plausible,” adding, “I see no reason to discount it.”

“The facts are still emerging, but there are strong suggestions of a Yemen-Al Qaeda connection and an intent to blow up the plane over U.S. airspace,” said Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat who heads the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence.

Mr. Abdulmutallab told F.B.I. agents he was connected to the Al Qaeda affiliate, which operates largely in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, by a radical Yemeni cleric whom he contacted via the Internet.

A senior Obama administration official said Mr. Abdulmutallab had come to the attention of American officials at least “several weeks ago,” but the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack.

The investigative file was opened after Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father warned officials at the United States Embassy in Nigeria of his son’s increasingly extremist religious views, the official said.

“The information was passed into the system, but the expression of radical extremist views were very nonspecific,” said the senior administration official, who has been briefed on the inquiry but spoke on condition of anonymity because it is continuing. “We were evaluating him, but the information we had was not a lot to go on.”

The incident prompted a significant change to airline security. International passengers will not be allowed to move about aircraft during the last hour of a flight, and there will be extra screening of baggage at airports.

Mr. Abdulmutallab was charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft and placing a destructive device on an aircraft, the Justice Department announced on Saturday. He was arraigned later on Saturday in a conference room on the first floor of the University of Michigan Hospital burn unit, where he has been in intensive care with third-degree burns since Friday.

In an affidavit filed in support of the criminal charges, the authorities said that Mr. Abdulmutallab had attempted to ignite the device, which was attached to his body, resulting “in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion.” According to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a highly explosive substance.

Mr. Abdulmutallab smiled briefly but said little in the arraignment. One of his burns was visible. His left hand was cuffed to a wheelchair, and he had bandages on his left thumb. His right hand was bandaged, as was his right thumb and right index finger. He was slender in frame, with tight cropped curls and a baby face unharmed by the explosives.

According to two pool reporters, he was asked how he was feeling and he responded: “I’m doing better.” He added that he felt “better than yesterday.”

Judge Paul D. Borman of the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan said Mr. Abdulmutallab faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine from the two charges. When asked if he understood the charges, Mr. Abdulmutallab said, “Yes, I do.” He will have a retention hearing in Detroit on Jan. 8, but the Justice Department requested a hearing to collect D.N.A. from him on Monday.

Mr. Abdulmutallab will remain in the hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he will continue to be treated.

It was unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. That list is maintained by the United States National Counterterrorism Center. It includes about 550,000 names.

Those people, however, are not necessarily placed on the federal government’s so-called no-fly list, which prohibits persons entering the United States because of known or suspected terrorists links. Mr. Abdulmutallab was not on that list, federal officials say.

Mr. Abdulmutallab was carried off the plane handcuffed to a stretcher, his trousers sheared off. He is cooperating with law enforcement authorities, officials said.

Federal officials say that while they have ruled out any links to Al Qaeda’s affiliate in North Africa, which includes Nigeria, they were closely examining Mr. Abdulmutallab’s claims that he was guided by Qaeda leaders in Yemen.

The cleric he said he had contacted via the Internet is not believed to be Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born imam who has spoken in favor of anti-American violence and who corresponded with Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people in a shooting spree last month at Fort Hood.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Yemeni Embassy in Washington said: “We have yet to receive official information on the incident. If and when the would-be bomber’s alleged link to Yemen is officially identified, authorities will take immediate action.”

Mr. Abdulmutallab was issued a regular visitor’s visa by the United States Embassy in London in June 2008, according to the senior administration official. There was no “derogatory information available” on him at the time he applied, and he was granted a two-year visa, which is still valid, the official said.

Mr. Abdulmutallab grew up in a rarefied slice of Nigeria, the son of an affluent banker. He attended one of the West Africa’s best schools, the British School of Lomé in Togo. After high school, he went to Britain and enrolled at the University College London to study engineering.

University College London, in a statement, said that a student named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had enrolled in mechanical engineering courses between September 2005 and June 2008. But it cautioned that it could not confirm that this was the same individual apprehended in Detroit. In London, Scotland Yard was conducting searches of apartments around the college.

His father, Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, until recently had served as chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria, and his mother’s family is originally from Yemen, according to news accounts in Nigerian newspapers.

Investigators are now examining how Mr. Abdulmutallab, at age 23, apparently rebelled against this privileged upbringing to pursue an extremist goal. It was while still in high school that Mr. Abdulmutallab began preaching to fellow students about Islam, according to a report in ThisDay, a Nigerian newspaper.

ThisDay reported that more recently, Mr. Abdulmutallab had moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and told his family that he no longer wanted to associate with them.

Dora Akunyili, a Nigerian government spokeswoman, told ThisDay that the Nigerian government also would assisting in the investigation of the incident.

Mr. Mutallab, in an interview with the BBC, said that he was not sure where his son had been before to the incident, and added that he was now cooperating with investigators.

“I believe he might have been to Yemen, but we are investigating to determine that,” Mr. Mutallab told the BBC.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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« Reply #913 on: December 26, 2009, 08:56:10 PM »

Airports on Alert After Bomb Attempt on Detroit Plane (Update3)

December 26, 2009, 02:29 PM EST

By Nicholas Johnston and Martin Z. Braun

Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Airport security and passenger restrictions were increased around the world after a suspected terrorist tried to blow up a Detroit-bound transatlantic flight with 278 passengers on board.

The man was attempting to destroy Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam with an explosive device, said Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. The suspect was identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, a government official said.

President Barack Obama, who is on vacation in Hawaii, conferred by telephone with national security and counter- terrorism officials on the investigation and “heightened air travel safety measures,” according to a statement from White House spokesman Bill Burton.

“The president will continue to actively monitor the situation,” Burton said.

The Department of Homeland Security said travelers to the U.S. should expect additional screening and longer check-in times. Passengers aboard planes entering the U.S. will be required to remain seated in the final hour of flights, and won’t be allowed to access their carry-on baggage or have personal items on their laps, Air Canada said in a statement on its Web site, citing rules imposed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

TSA couldn’t immediately be reached for confirmation.

Airport Security

Security at airports in the U.K., continental Europe, Canada, parts of Asia and Australia was increased today, and a European Commission statement said the authorities are in contact with Dutch and U.S. officials.

The incident on the Airbus A330 flight from Schiphol airport “definitely appears to be al-Qaeda-related,” King said in an interview. “This was not a firecracker. This was for real.”

The senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Pete Hoekstra, said he had information that the suspect may have had contact with a radical imam based in Yemen with ties to the suspected shooter in the Fort Hood killings in Texas.

Yemen Connection

The suspect, who was taken into custody in Detroit, told authorities that the device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions on when it was to be used, CNN reported, citing a federal security bulletin. He was taken to a hospital to be treated for burns, the cable news network said. The fire from the explosion was large enough to require an extinguisher, CNN said, citing interviews with passengers.

University College London said today that a person it identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was enrolled on a mechanical engineering course between September 2005 and June 2008.

The circumstances and timing of the Christmas incident echoed the attempt by the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, to blow up American Airlines flight 63 to Miami from Paris on Dec. 22, 2001. Flight attendants and passengers subdued Reid as he tried to light explosives in his high-top sneakers. Reid, a British citizen who declared himself to be a member of al-Qaeda, later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in January 2003.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service is conducting searches in the U.K. capital “as part of ongoing inquiries,” a spokeswoman said by phone today. Officers are liaising with U.S. authorities, she said.

Bomb Materials

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Detroit is leading the probe, said spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold, a review that includes identifying the material used by the suspect.

The device consisted of a mixture of liquid and power, a government official said.

The plane was moved to a remote area, and authorities interviewed passengers and rescreened luggage after the Airbus A330 landed at about noon local time, the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement.

Representative Hoekstra said administration officials and officials with access to law-enforcement information told him the plane bombing suspect may have had contact with Anwar Al Awlaki, an anti-American imam linked to al-Qaeda. Al Awlaki also had ties to Nidal Hasan, the suspected Fort Hood shooter.

Sara Kuban, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, declined to comment on any link to al Awlaki, citing the ongoing investigation.

Seeking Links

The suspect may have been in a government law enforcement- intelligence database, the New York Times reported, citing a federal counterterrorism official who asked not to be identified.

Hoekstra said the Obama administration hasn’t done enough to inform Congress about the al Awlaki-Hasan contacts and wanted to ensure the same didn’t happen in this case.

The National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism in the Netherlands and the Dutch Royal Military Police “are investigating what happened,” Judith Sluiter, a spokeswoman for the national coordinator, said in a telephone interview today. The investigation covers the passenger’s movements and whether security checks were in place, she said.

Nigeria has started its own investigation on the suspect, Minister of Information and Communications Dora Akunyili said in an e-mailed statement today.

Nigeria is taking steps to verify the identity of the suspect and his motives, according to the statement. Nigerian security agencies will cooperate fully with the U.S. authorities in the investigations, the statement added.

A retired Nigerian banker, Umaru Mutallab, was meeting with Nigerian security officials because he thought the suspect might be his son, the Lagos-based newspaper ThisDay reported, citing family sources.

Security Measures

Because of the incident, the U.S. authorities are asking airlines to take extra security measures worldwide, the national coordinator said earlier today. Extra searches of passengers and luggage were implemented at Schiphol.

In the U.K., passengers traveling to the U.S. were advised to leave more time to check in and limit baggage being taken on board, a spokeswoman for BAA Ltd., which operates six U.K. airports including Heathrow, wrote in an e-mail.

Transport Canada said in a statement today that passengers flying to the United States from Canada are restricted to one carry-on bag, and subject to additional searches. The measures will be in place “at least for several days,” the agency said.

Body Checks

In Australia, travelers leaving Sydney on flights to the U.S. were to undergo more stringent body and luggage checks. Melbourne Airport had received instructions from the Australian government to boost security checks, spokesman Damian Tkalec said.

Taiwan imposed additional security checks of passengers and carry-on items at gates for U.S. flights from the island’s airports, Liu Chang-hui, spokesman for the Aviation Police Office, said. Carolyn Leung, a Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. spokeswoman, said Hong Kong’s biggest carrier stepped up security screening for U.S.-bound flights on U.S. advice.

India, Canada

Indian airports “are already on high alert due to the festive season,” Rohit Katiyar, a spokesman of Central Industrial Security Force, a government agency under home ministry, said today by telephone.

In Canada, Transport Minister John Baird instructed Transport Canada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority “to assume a heightened state of vigilance.”

Air Canada, the country’s largest airline, advised passengers traveling to the U.S. that enhanced security measures could lead to flight delays, cancellations and missed connections.

Nigeria, whose 140 million people make it Africa’s most populous country, is almost evenly split between the mainly Muslim north and a largely Christian south.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s Yemen-based arm, has issued threats against the U.S. following strikes against it, according to IntelCenter, an Alexandria, Virginia- based group that monitors terrorist organizations.

Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, convened a secure conference call yesterday with John Brennan, homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser, and Denis McDonough, National Security Council chief of staff, the White House said.

The Senate Commerce Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee will hold hearings next month on the incident, the committees’ chairmen, Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in separate statements today.

--With assistance from Jeff Bliss and Jonathan D. Salant in Washington, Sean B. Pasternak in Toronto, Vincent Nwanma in Lagos, Ed Dufner in Dallas, Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles, Shani Raja in Sydney, Rachel Graham in London, Martijn van der Starre in Amsterdam and James G. Neuger in Brussels. Editors: Mike Harrison, Mark Rohner

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Honolulu, at +1-202-236-9231 or njohnston3@bloomberg.net; Martin Z. Braun in New York at +1-212-617-6849 or mbraun6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at +1-212-617-2432 or dkraut2@bloomberg.net


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« Reply #914 on: December 26, 2009, 09:03:06 PM »

Pete Hoekstra

Pete Hoekstra: Detroit terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab may be connected to Fort Hood shooter

By Aaron Foley | MLive.com
December 26, 2009, 12:43PM

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Holland) spoke to the Associated Foreign Press shortly after a terror suspect was detained following a failed bombing attack aboard a plane flying into Detroit.

Hoekstra says that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab may have a common link with the Fort Hood shooter that shot 13 people in November.

    AFP, Dec. 26: There was a suggestion of links between Abdulmutallab and radical US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who had contacts with the US army psychiatrist accused of gunning down 13 people at a Texas military base last month.

    "He may have been in contact with the American imam al-Aulaqi," Peter Hoekstra, the most senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a member of Congress for Michigan, told AFP.

    "There are reports that he had contact and that he was recently in Yemen. The question we'll have to raise is was this imam in Yemen influential enough to get some people to attack the US again."


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« Reply #915 on: December 26, 2009, 10:06:41 PM »

Nigerian bomb suspect linked to Al-Qaeda in Yemen

27 December 2009 0946 hrs
DETROIT, Michigan - A Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day has confessed to training with an Al-Qaeda bombmaker in Yemen, security officials told the US media on Saturday.

The allegations highlight Yemen's growing centrality in global terror plots as the country's government carries out an offensive against Al-Qaeda suspects, that has reportedly killed 68 alleged militants in the past 10 days.

New details emerging about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab suggested his abortive attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was planned in Yemen by Al-Qaeda members who even sewed an explosive device into the 23-year-old's underwear.

Law enforcement officials told US media that Abdulmutallab had offered several details about his links to Al-Qaeda and his plan to take down the flight en route from Amsterdam.

Abdulmutallab told investigators that a radical Yemeni cleric he contacted through the Internet put him in touch with an Al-Qaeda leader living in Yemen, ABC News said.

He described spending a month at an Al-Qaeda compound north of Yemen's capital Sanaa and said he was denied permission to leave the site until he completed his training alongside a Saudi Al-Qaeda bombmaker.

US counterterrorism officials said the Nigerian claimed he received specific instructions about how to carry out the attack, NBC News said.

He claimed he was told to blow up the plane as it approached Detroit because it would produce more casualties and collateral damage on the ground if it crashed into a densely populated area.

Details emerging from Abdulmutallab's homeland suggested the young man had been a religious teenager who became radical after studying at University College London.

Nigeria's This Day newspaper reported that he relocated to Egypt and then Dubai, and while in the United Arab Emirates told his family that he was severing all contact with them.

His attitude worried his father so much that he informed the US embassy in Abuja about his son's activities.

But Dutch authorities said Abdulmutallab had a valid US visa when he passed through Amsterdam and his name was reviewed by US authorities before he boarded the Airbus 330 travelling from the Netherlands to the Michigan city of Detroit.

Details about when Abdulmutallab may have travelled to Yemen were still unclear, but charges filed against the Nigerian on Saturday revealed new information about the device he tried to detonate.

The US Justice Department alleged in charging documents that he went to the bathroom before the plane began its final descent, spending 20 minutes away from his seat before returning and saying he had an upset stomach.

"He pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odour and observed Abdulmutallab's pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire," the affidavit said.

"One flight attendant... stated that she asked Abdulmutallab what he had had in his pocket and he replied 'explosive device.'

"A passenger stated that he observed Abdulmutallab holding what appeared to be a partially melted syringe, which was smoking. The passenger took the syringe from Abdulmutallab, shook it to stop it from smoking and threw it to the floor of the aircraft," the affidavit added.

Remnants of the syringe had been recovered and were believed to be part of the explosive device, the document said.

The affidavit described the device as containing PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, "a high explosive" that is similar to nitro-glycerin.

The two apparent components of the device, the syringe and the explosive material were sewn into Abdulmutallab's underwear by Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen, ABC News reported, citing federal authorities.

Bernard Haykel, a US expert on the Arabian peninsula at Princeton University, told AFP that Yemen has longstanding ties to Al-Qaeda.

"Yemen has always been very important for Al-Qaeda. They always had a lot of recruits from Yemen, going back to the 1980s, when many Yemenis have gone to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. It's a very old connection," he said.

He added that after the defeat of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, "many of the Saudis who survived the Saudi government attacks on them regrouped in Yemen.

The country has come under US scrutiny in recent months, particularly in the wake of the Fort Hoods shootings in Texas, which killed 13 people.

The man accused of perpetrating that attack, Nidal Hasan, was linked to Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who has encouraged US Muslims to carry out militant attacks and praised the Fort Hood massacre.

- AFP/ir


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« Reply #916 on: December 26, 2009, 11:54:59 PM »

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is escorted from the plane after his failed attack  Photo: CNN

Detroit attack: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from London student to jihadist

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253, may have become recruited to the terrorist cause during three years he spent studying in Britain, his family said.
By Robert Mendick, Julie Henry and Rebecca Lefort
Published: 9:08PM GMT 26 Dec 2009
The 23-year-old was sent to London to study by his wealthy father, a prominent Nigerian banker who is reported to have become despondent over his son’s growing radicalism.

Abdulmutallab enrolled at University College London (UCL) in September 2005, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering in June last year.
During his time in London, he lived in a three-bedroom apartment in London’s West End. Other members of Abdulmutallab’s large family also occupied the flat from time to time, part of the imposing, seven-storey block in Mansfield Street that has a an English Heritage blue plaque on a wall in honour of the philanthropist Sir Robert Mayer, who once lived there.

One woman, who works as a carer for an elderly female resident, said: “They [Abdulmutallab’s family] are not always there, they only come when it is school holidays, they don’t really stay there. Most of the people in these apartments have got houses in the country, so most of them are empty.”

Police on Saturday carried out searches at the flat, the lease on which, according to records, is owned by a US investment company. Scotland Yard confirmed that it was liaising with the US authorities investigating the failed attack. Officers also visited UCL.

According to a Nigerian source based in the US, a relation of Abdulmutallab’s had claimed that the student, from a Muslim family, had been “recruited” to a more militant form of Islam in London.

On completing his degree, Abdulmutallab was believed to have moved to Yemen, where he was further radicalised and allegedly underwent some form of training culminating in the failed terrorism attempt.

Abdulmutallab was issued with a visa to the US on June 16 last year, coinciding with the completion of his UCL course. The visa was valid until June 12, 2010. His reason given for visiting the US was to attend a religious ceremony.

The source said: “After school at a top establishment in west Africa, Umar was sent to London to college. But when his degree course ended, he ‘disappeared’ to Yemen, where he was being taught Arabic. His family are suggesting he probably got recruited in London but became radicalised in Yemen. He had been in Yemen for about a year or even a year and a half although during that period he had flown between Yemen, Nigeria and the UK.”

Yemen is fast becoming the breeding ground for jihadists. Pete Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the US House Intelligence Committee, said he had information that the suspect may have had contact with a radical imam based in Yemen who had ties to the suspected gunman in the Fort Hood killings in Texas.

Abdulmutallab is reported to have told authorities that the explosive device was acquired in Yemen along with instructions on when it was to be used from al-Qaeda operatives, although it is claimed he later withdrew that remark.

Mohammed Mutallab, a cousin of the alleged bomber, told The Sunday Telegraph that the family was shocked that he had been arrested and believed he had been radicalised in Britain.

A Nigerian online newspaper reported, however, that Abdulmutallab had already held extremist views while at a boarding school in west Africa, where he earned the nickname “Alfa” in reference to his prowess as an Islamic scholar.

His father, Umaru Mutallab, is one of Nigeria’s most respected businessmen. He stepped down as chairman of the First Bank of Nigeria earlier this month.

Mr Mutallab, who is also a former government minister, was reported to have been travelling from the family compound in Katsina in the north of Nigeria to the capital Abuja to talk to security officials.

One report suggested that Mr Mutallab had warned US authorities and Nigerian security services about his son’s activities.


The accused's father, Umaru Mutallab, is one of Nigeria?s most respected businessmen

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« Reply #917 on: December 28, 2009, 09:07:11 PM »

Saved by a bad detonator

By Cal Thomas

Had it not been for a malfunctioning detonator, a plane carrying nearly 300 people on Christmas Day might have exploded. Only the faulty device, along with some fast-acting passengers, prevented a disaster.

But the detonator was not the only malfunction in this near catastrophe. Government also broke down. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been on a watch list for the past two years. That list contains names of people known to have extremist links.

British press reports say Mr. Abdulmutallab has been on its security MI5's radar but was deemed insufficiently threatening to warrant surveillance. Still, he was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year, according to the London Times.

I was once on a watch list because my name is similar to that of someone wanted by the law. It is inconceivable that someone with a real terrorism profile could get on a plane bound for the United States with explosives strapped to his body and not be detected. When I was on a list, my identification was taken into a back room, where calls were made to determine that I was not the one they were seeking. Sometimes a series of S's would be stamped on my boarding pass. This did not qualify me for a free drink or an upgrade, but an intimate pat-down, along with a complete search of my carry-on bag. I had to turn on my laptop computer to prove it was not an explosive device.

How did Mr. Abdulmutallab, whose father recently warned State Department officials about his son's radical beliefs and extremist connections, get on a plane bound for Detroit? What good is it to report suspicious behavior, as the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly urges us to do, if those reports are not taken more seriously?

Did America's reluctance to profile contribute to this latest near disaster? That question should be among many asked at a congressional hearing.

Mr. Abdulmutallab is said to have traveled to the failed state of Yemen, where he acquired his explosive device and received training for the attack he nearly pulled off. The Obama administration is sending several Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. This is the equivalent of the Coolidge administration sending New York Mafia members to Chicago for re-education during the Roaring '20s.

Richard A. Clarke, former terrorism czar and now an ABC News consultant, told the network that the screening devices in Nigeria and at other airports need to be upgraded to more modern systems that penetrate clothing and reveal internal organs. They are expensive and intrusive, and certain "civil liberties" groups might go to court to block them. Mr. Abdulmutallab's profile should have extended beyond his religion. Press reports say he paid $3,000 cash for his ticket and checked no bags. Some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers paid cash for their tickets and checked no luggage.

This latest incident and the killings at Fort Hood, Texas, by a Muslim Army officer ought to be a verdict on the Obama administration's strategy of apologizing for America and reaching out to Muslim nations. None of it has mollified terrorist states or terrorists operating within those states or, for that matter, potential terrorists operating within the United States.

Administration officials have acknowledged the strong likelihood of terrorist cells in the United States. The question should not be how to make terrorists like us, but how to find them, eliminate them and, most important of all, keep them from entering the country in the first place.

The Obama administration, like the Clinton administration, continues to view terrorists as criminals who ought to be subject to the American judicial system. In fact, they are soldiers in a war unlike any this country has ever faced. Until we start treating these people as soldiers and not criminals, there will be more incidents like this, as there have been previous ones. Without a serious approach to domestic terrorism, the next attempted attack on an airliner might succeed, as did the ones during another less serious time that gave us Sept. 11, 2001.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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« Reply #918 on: December 28, 2009, 09:12:08 PM »

Al Queda: It was us

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« Reply #919 on: December 28, 2009, 09:27:10 PM »

Islamist threat remains top concern

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