FBI agents executed a search warrant at a North Side residence this morning, marking a possible break in the investigation into last month’s vandalism at synagogues and Jewish schools on the North Side and in Lincolnwood.
Agents searched a home at 6029 N. Artesian Ave. about 7:30 a.m., according to FBI spokeswoman Cynthia Yates.
The warrant was executed as part of an ongoing investigation. More from the Southtown Star
By Fred Burton and Ben West – from Stratfor.com
U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order Feb. 1 approving the continued use of renditions by the CIA. The order seems to go against Obama’s campaign promises to improve the image of the United States abroad, as renditions under the Bush administration had drawn criticism worldwide, especially from members of the European Union. The executive order does not necessarily mean that renditions and other tactics for dealing with terrorist suspects will proceed unchanged, however.
Obama came into office promising changes in the way the United States combats terrorism. One of these changes was a new emphasis on legal processes and a shift away from controversial methods of treating terrorist suspects, like rendition, harsh interrogation techniques and secret prisons. The Obama administration can and will roll back some of these tactics, as demonstrated by the president’s Jan. 22 order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. But some will continue. Continue reading
In a recent article posted at truthout.org, Phillip Butler makes a case for the arrest of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for crimes against the U.S. Constitution. Butler is a veteran military pilot and was a POW in Vietnam for 2,855 days. Since his repatriation in 1973, he has earned a PhD in Sociology and according to his author bio, “he mentors business and organization leaders and is a community activist.”
His article is well-written and thorough, using the Third Geneva Convention and its rules regarding the interrogation of POWs as the basis for his assertions. In the article, Butler accuses the Bush Administration of “gross attempts to institutionalize torture.” In addition to being well-written, the article is also gravely out of step with the times.
Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention states:
“No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”
In a war between two legitimate nations, each with a well-organized and identifiable military, this is an acceptable practice. Unfortunately, such is not the case in the war being waged against the free world by Islamic fundamentalists.
As 2009 begins, a new administration assumes power in Washington D.C., and world events continue to illustrate the global threat of Islamic supremacism, we must continue to focus on our efforts in preparedness, planning, and persistence in defending equality and liberty. The responsibility to defend equality and liberty against Islamic supremacism is not an option for a free society; it is fundamental to our very survival.
1. Importance of Timely Preparedness Efforts Now
While the November 2008 Mumbai attacks have illustrated how Islamic supremacist terrorists can attack anytime, anywhere, it is essential that we continue to take steps to protect ourselves as much as practical from such attacks. The effort to defend equality and liberty from Islamic supremacism is not fatalistic; our defense of such inalienable human rights remains one of most optimistic movements in human history. It is based on more than optimism, however; such defense of equality and liberty is based on our declaration of such inalienable human rights that are an innate part of our identity as Americans. Therefore, we must also not be fatalistic in our stance regarding our personal and family preparedness against another Islamic supremacist terrorist attack. Those standing against Islamic supremacism remain valuable and precious resources.
Over the past several weeks, I have heard of additional reports from the counterterrorism community not only of heightened perceptions of threats to America’s security during the transfer of power, but also for a number of months following this. We have seen the history of Islamic supremacist terrorists in seeking to challenge new government administrations in the UK and elsewhere around the world. Whether or not such threat perceptions materialize into any future attacks, it makes sense now to revisit our current preparedness plans and resources – just as we take precautions against any other type of potential emergency.
Full article by Jeffrey Imm HERE
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart – from Stratfor.com
On Jan. 8, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard testimony from a number of experts about the lessons learned from the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack. According to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Mumbai attack deserves attention because it raises important questions about the plans of U.S. authorities to prevent, prepare for and respond to similar attacks directed against targets in the United States.
As we’ve previously pointed out, the tactics employed in the Mumbai attack were not new or remarkable, although the attackers did incorporate some tactical innovations due to their use of modern technology. As shown by a long string of historic terror attacks, armed assaults can be quite effective. There are a number of factors, however, that would reduce the effectiveness of a similar attack inside the United States or many Western European countries.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The NYPD is examining ways to shut down cell phone calls in and around future hostage-taking scenarios without also shutting down the communications devices of the police trying to rescue them, Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a congressional hearing yesterday.
Cell phones were simple tools used to deadly effect in the Mumbai terror attacks, Kelly told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs yesterday.
According to phone transcripts, the attackers received instructions and real-time updates about the officers amassing against them. Some of the phones they used for the calls apparently were taken from hostages. More here
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart
For the past several years, we have published an annual forecast for al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since the January 2006 forecast, we have focused heavily on the devolution of jihadism from a phenomenon focused primarily on al Qaeda the group to one based primarily on al Qaeda the movement. Last year, we argued that al Qaeda was struggling to remain relevant and that al Qaeda prime had been marginalized in the physical battlefield. This marginalization of al Qaeda prime had caused that group to forfeit its position at the vanguard of the physical jihad, though it remained deeply involved in the leadership of the ideological battle.
As a quick reminder, Stratfor views what most people refer to as “al Qaeda” as a global jihadist network rather than a monolithic entity. This network consists of three distinct entities. The first is a core vanguard, which we frequently refer to as al Qaeda prime, comprising Osama bin Laden and his trusted associates. The second is composed of al Qaeda franchise groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq, and the third comprises the grassroots jihadist movement inspired by al Qaeda prime and the franchise groups.
As indicated by the title of this forecast, we believe that the trends we have discussed in previous years will continue, and that al Qaeda prime has become marginalized on the physical battlefield to the extent that we have not even mentioned their name in the title. The regional jihadist franchises and grassroots operatives pose a much more significant threat in terms of security concerns, though it is important to note that those concerns will remain tactical and not rise to the level of a strategic threat. In our view, the sort of strategic challenge that al Qaeda prime posed with the 9/11 attacks simply cannot be replicated without a major change in geopolitical alignments — a change we do not anticipate in 2009.
CAMDEN – A jury today convicted five men on charges they plotted to kill members of the U.S. military, Acting United States Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr. announced.
After 5½ days of deliberations, which began Dec. 17, the jury convicted Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, brothers Dritan Duka, Shain Duka and Eljvir Duka and Serdar Tatar on Count One of the seven-count Superseding Indictment that charged them with conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military. The jury acquitted each of defendants of Count Two, which charged attempt to murder members of the U.S. military.
For the conspiracy conviction only, each of the defendants faces a sentence of any number of years up to life in prison.
The case was tried by Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Hammer, Jr., Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Terrorism Unit. U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler, who presided over the 12-week trial, scheduled sentencing of the three Duka brothers for April 22. Judge Kugler scheduled sentencing of Shnewer and Tartar on April 23.
The remaining counts of the Superseding Indictment, which was returned in January, charged the three Duka brothers, who are illegal immigrants, and Shnewer with firearm offenses; including possession of machine guns. See below for conviction details on each of the defendants.
The defendants’ arrests occurred on May 7, 2007, in Cherry Hill as Dritan and Shain Duka were meeting a confidential government witness to purchase four automatic M-16 rifles and three semi-automatic AK-47 rifles to be used in a future attack on military personnel. The other defendants were arrested at various locations at about the same time.
“These men planned, trained and ceaselessly talked unambiguously about their intention to ambush and kill U.S. soldiers,” said Marra. “The word should go out to any other would-be terrorists of the homegrown variety that the United States will find you, infiltrate your group, prosecute you and send you to a federal prison for a very long time.”
“Vigilance was the key to disrupting the dangerous terrorists convicted today and we are glad they are off the street,” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. “We appreciate the tip from an alert citizen who reported this suspicious activity to law enforcement. Without tips from concerned citizens or cooperation from our law enforcement partners, it is much more difficult to safeguard our nation and protect the
United States from terrorist attack.”
“Today’s verdicts underscore the need for continued vigilance against homegrown terror threats,” said Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “While these defendants were not members of an international terrorist organization, their involvement in weapons training, their surveillance of domestic targets and their discussions of killing U.S. military personnel posed a serious threat that required the law enforcement disruption and the prosecutions upheld by the jury today.”
In convicting the defendants, the jury found that one member of the group conducted surveillance at Fort Dix and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard in Philadelphia. The co-conspirator obtained a detailed map of Fort Dix, where they hoped to use assault rifles to kill as many soldiers as possible,
according to trial testimony and evidence.
During the trial, the jury viewed secretly recorded videotapes of the defendants preforming small-arms training at a shooting range in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and watching training videos amongst themselves that included depictions of American soldiers being killed and of known foreign Islamic radicals urging jihad against the United States.
The defendants and the charges on which each was convicted are as follows:
• Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, 23, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the members of the U.S. military, and the attempted possession of AK-47 semi-automatic assault weapons to be used in the attack.
• Dritan Duka, 30 of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military; possession of machine guns; possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence; and two counts of possession of firearms by an illegal alien.
• Shain Duka, 27, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military; possession of machine guns; possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence; and two counts of possession of firearms by an illegal alien.
• Eljvir Duka, 25, of Cherry Hill: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military, and possession of firearms by illegal aliens. The jury acquitted on one count of possession and attempted possession of machine guns in furtherance of a crime of violence.
• Serdar Tatar, 25, of Philadelphia: conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military.
A sixth co-defendant, Agron Abdullahu, 26, of Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County, pleaded guilty before Judge Kugler on Oct. 31, 2007, to aiding and abetting the Duka brothers’ illegal possession of weapons. Abdullahu was arrested on May 7, 2007, along with the defendants convicted today. On March 31, 2008, Judge Kugler sentenced Abdullahu to 420 months in federal prison.
The charge of conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military carries a sentence of any number of years up to life in prison. The charge of possession of a machine gun in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment. The charge of attempted possession of AK-47 semi-automatic assault weapons to be used in the attack carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Each count of unlawful possession of machine guns carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison. Each count of being an illegal alien in possession of firearms carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison.
Marra credited the Special Agents of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and the FBI South Jersey Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Fedarcyk, in Philadelphia, for investigation of the case.
Marra and Fedarcyk also thanked investigators with member agencies of the FBI South Jersey Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises ICE’s Philadelphia Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John P. Kelleghan, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of the Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk, NJ State Police, under the direction of Col. Joseph “Rick” Fuentes, Superintendent, and the Delaware River Port Authority Police, under the direction of Chief Dave McClintock, for their tireless efforts on the investigation.
Additionally, Marra and Fedarcyk would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance and support: the U.S. military services at Fort Dix, Fort Monmouth, Dover Air Force Base, and the U.S. Coast Guard in Philadelphia, along with the Cherry Hill Police Department, Mt. Laurel Police Department, Cherry Hill Fire Department, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, and N.J. Homeland Security.