Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ya'alon: Bin Laden's location known


The IDF's chief of General Staff said in an interview published Wednesday that the location of al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden is known, and he is in hiding on the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier.

"I don't think that they don't known where he is. There are operational difficulties in putting your hands on him, for all sorts of reasons. But it is not true that they don't know where he is located," Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told Maariv.

Ya'alon, a former head of IDF Intelligence, said, "Ultimately, in order to get your hands on him you will need what we perfected and that is what we call 'targeted assassination.'"

Iran hard-line volunteers undergo training for suicide attacks in Iraq, Israel

By Ali Akbar Dareini

TEHRAN, Iran – More than 200 young men and women presented themselves Thursday as volunteers to carry out suicide bomb attacks against Americans in Iraq and against Israelis.

The meeting was organized at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, by the Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a shadowy group that has sought volunteers for attacks in Iraq and Israel since last year.

It was the third such ceremony that the group has held, but there has been no independent confirmation any of its volunteers has carried out a bombing.

Most of those attending Thursday's meeting, half of them women, were members of the Basij militia, a hard-line paramilitary group, and have already had military training. But the movement says it provides more training for suicide attacks.

The movement's spokesman, Mohammad Ali Samadi, told the audience that the volunteers were preparing for "martyrdom attacks against occupiers of Palestine, the assassination of (British author) apostate Salman Rushdie and attacks against occupiers of holy places (in Iraq)."

The volunteers, who chanted "Allahu akbar" – "God is great" – and "Death to America," wore white shrouds symbolizing their willingness to die and headbands with the slogan "There is no Allah but the Almighty." No weapons or explosives were visible at the ceremony.

The two previous such ceremonies – in December and April – each had 200 volunteers.

The Iranian government has distanced itself from the organization, but the group has occasionally used buildings belonging to semi-official hard-line organizations. Certain hard-line lawmakers and some commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards have spoken in support of the movement.

The volunteers were given metal name plates to identify them after they've carried out attacks and presented wills to Samadi. They refused to show their will to reporters.

One woman, who only gave her first name Zahra, said a "sense of obligation" encouraged her to leave her family and become a suicide bomber.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

FAIR VICTORY: U.S. Senate Approves REAL ID

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved (100-0) the conference agreement on the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. As mentioned, the conference agreement contains Rep. Sensenbrenner's (R-WI) REAL ID Act, as well as additional funding offered by Sen. Byrd (D-WV) for border and interior enforcement.

Now that H.R. 1268 has cleared both bodies of Congress, it heads to the president's desk for his signature. We expect he will sign the bill within the week.


BAN ON DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS: Under the REAL ID provisions, all states must require proof of lawful presence in the U.S. if their driver's licenses are to be accepted as a form of identification to a federal official. Boarding a commercial airplane and entering a federal building or a nuclear power plant are among the official federal purposes. Some concessions were made allowing states to issue "driving certificates" that do not meet the national requirements, but they would not be valid for official purposes. The terms of these cards would be a maximum of one year. While we oppose the issuance of these driving certificates, they will make it easy for state and local law enforcement to identify and detain illegal aliens during the course of their normal activities.

MORE DRIVER'S LICENSE SECURITY: Temporary driver's licenses issued to foreign visitors by a state must expire when the visitor's visa expires, with a maximum term of one year. Had this been in place prior to 9/11, the illegal aliens among the terrorist hijackers who overstayed their visas would not have had valid driver's licenses.

EXPEDITES COMPLETION OF U.S./MEXICO BORDER FENCE: Provides the Secretary of Homeland Security authority, subject to federal judicial review of Constitutional questions, to waive laws hampering the completion of border fences and roads for national security purposes. This will expedite completion of the border fence along the dangerous San Diego/Tijuana border.

INADMISSIBLITY AND DEPORTATION OF TERRORISTS: Ensures all terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility to the U.S. are grounds for deportation from the U.S.

ASYLUM REFORMS: The REAL ID provisions will help weed out fraudulent asylum applications by allowing immigration judges to determine witness credibility in asylum cases.

LIMITS DEPORTATION-DELAYING APPEALS: Provides reforms to ensure the prompt removal from the U.S. of terrorists, criminal aliens, and illegal aliens after proper judicial review. Aliens order deported will no longer be able to abuse the appeals process to remain in the country.

INCREASES ENFORCEMENT AGENTS AND DETENTION SPACE: The final bill includes funding for 500 additional border patrol agents, 50 immigration and customs inspectors, 168 enforcement agents and detention officers, and 1,950 detention beds. (This funding was added by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) during Senate floor consideration.)

Cheap labor proponents and open-border advocates fought vigorously to make this bill a vehicle for amnesty, foreign worker increases, and other immigration liberalizing provisions. They were far from successful. With your help, we defeated Sen. Craig's massive AgJOBS amnesty/guestworker bill. Some concessions were made during negotiations and the following foreign worker increases were accepted...

H-2B SEASONAL GUESTWORKER INCREASE: The Mikulski amendment was included in the final bill, exempting H-2B seasonal guestworkers who have worked in the U.S. in the past from the 65,000 annual cap.

FOREIGN NURSE INCREASE: An additional 50,000 foreign nurses will be permitted.

INCREASE FOR AUSTRALIAN WORKERS: About 10,500 Australian guestworkers will be allowed to enter the country annually under terms similar to the H-1B high-tech visa category.
Despite these modest concessions, this is still a HUGE VICTORY for the immigration reform movement!

Islamism Brews in Britain

London Letter

Every election has its memorable moment. For the 2005 British general election, that moment came when the Islamist George Galloway defeated the black, Jewish pro-war member of parliament, Oona King, for Bethnal Green and Bow in the East End of London. Mr. Galloway overturned a Labor majority of more than 10,000. As the result was announced, Mr. Galloway yelled exultantly at his ecstatic devotees: "Tony Blair, this is for Iraq!"

Mr. Galloway is not just a demagogue, but a defender of Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and Yasser Arafat. Mr. Galloway is now the leader of Respect, a party dedicated to mobilizing disaffected Muslims and left-wing yuppies who are against Mr. Blair. A year ago, he was thrown out of the Labor party for inciting British troops in Iraq to mutiny. Mr. Galloway used to spend Christmas with his friend Tariq Aziz - Saddam's erstwhile foreign minister, who is now awaiting trial - whom he insists is a "political prisoner." Saddam's propaganda footage showed him with the dictator. But there he is, still sitting in the mother of parliaments.

The precise nature and extent of Mr. Galloway's involvement with the Saddam regime is, to say the least, still unclear. Since the regime fell, his conduct has been investigated by parliamentary, party, and charity officials. None of these inquiries found proof of corruption, and the Daily Telegraph lost a sensational libel case after it alleged (on the basis of documents found in the Baghdad foreign ministry) that he had been in Saddam's pay, though the newspaper is appealing. Mr. Galloway's name surfaced again in the course of the Volcker inquiry into the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, though the degree of his involvement in the scandal is yet to be seen.

Mr. Galloway boasted that he had "come back from the dead," as he basked in publicity, evidently enjoying his humiliation of feisty little Ms. King. He is proud of his nickname, "Gorgeous George," which he acquired as a result of his public admission of extramarital affairs that ended his first marriage. In mid-campaign, Mr. Galloway's Palestinian Muslim second wife, Amineh-Abu Zayyad, gave an interview to the London Sunday Times. She told the press that when she heard he would call his new party "Respect," she wept. "How can he call it this when he doesn't even treat his own wife with respect?" After Ms. Zayyad alleged that she received calls from women who claimed to have had affairs with him, she said that Mr. Galloway tried to persuade her to stay in Beirut until the election was over. "George said it was the intelligence services, his enemies, that were trying to get at me." She now says she wants a divorce.

Pressed by a BBC anchorman, Jeremy Paxman, to say whether he felt proud of unseating one of the few black women members of Parliament in Westminster, Mr. Galloway lost his temper. "All those New Labor members of parliament who voted for Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush's war have on their hands the blood of 100,000 people in Iraq ... That is a more important issue than the color of her skin," he said, accusing Mr. Paxman of insulting all 15,801 Londoners who had voted for him. He then stormed out of the interview.

It is those voters, overwhelmingly Muslim, who should concern us at least as much as Mr. Galloway. Across the country, city after city with a large Muslim minority showed an above average swing against Mr. Blair and Labor. It seems pretty clear that the great majority of Britain's 2.5 million Muslims obeyed the instructions of their imams or community leaders and voted en bloc for whichever antiwar party seemed to have the best chance of defeating the Blair government. The Muslim defection from their traditional allegiance to Labor cost Mr. Blair up to half of the seats he lost and partly accounts for the unusually strong anti-Blair vote in London.

That Muslim vote is now also Islamist, in the sense of subordinating all other considerations to religious objectives. This is a new political phenomenon for a country that still fondly imagines itself to be a United Kingdom. It is also a phenomenon that is likely to outlast the coalition presence in Iraq, or even the present phase of the war on terror. Since the results of a recent Guardian opinion poll, among others, provides evidence that a large proportion of British Muslims not only thought the attacks of September 11, 2001, were justified, but would like to be governed by shariah law, it makes sense now to talk about an Islamist vote in Britain.

The implications of the emergence of a European Islamism are profound and worrying. The greatest Western scholar of the Islamic world, Bernard Lewis, has already warned that Europe may well become a Muslim continent by the end of this century. If that comes to pass, it may be that the British election of 2005 will be seen as a milestone on the road to what another eminent expert, Bat Ye'or, has already dubbed "Eurabia."

Al-Qaida turf battles aid counterterror efforts

Rivalry may have helped in arrest of bin Laden associate
The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - American and Pakistani intelligence agents are exploiting a growing rift between Arab members of al-Qaida and their Central Asian allies, a fissure that’s tearing at the network of Islamic extremists as militants compete for scarce hideouts, weapons and financial resources, counterterrorism officials say.

The rivalry may have contributed to the arrest last week of one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants, a Libyan described as al-Qaida’s No. 3 and known to have had differences with Uzbeks. Captured Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik suspects have been giving up information about the movements of Arab al-Qaida militants in recent months, four Pakistani intelligence agents told The Associated Press, leading to a series of successful raids and arrests.

“When push comes to shove, the Uzbeks are going to stick together, and the Arabs are going to stick together,” said Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism expert with the Congressional Research Service in Washington. “I think the Uzbek guerrillas have had no home. Some of this could be a battle for survival.”

The Pakistani agents, who hold sensitive jobs in various military and intelligence agencies in several cities, all spoke on condition their names not be used.

Overlapping turf
U.S. officials declined to comment on the schism. One, however, noted that al-Qaida and its allies do not always function as a cohesive unit. And another cautioned, “There may be a division, but you haven’t won anyone over to your side.” The official spoke on condition his name not be used because of the sensitive topic.

Abu Farraj al-Libbi, the Libyan and top al-Qaida operative, was captured in the northwestern part of Pakistan on May 2 after a fierce gunbattle. Now in Pakistani custody, he’s accused of planning two assassination attempts on President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Al-Libbi used Pakistanis, not Central Asians, to carry out the December 2003 attacks on Musharraf — a sign of who he trusted, authorities said. And al-Libbi sent a Pakistani suicide bomber, they said, to try to kill the prime minister in 2004.

An agent in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s equivalent of the CIA, said tensions with the Central Asians began building in late 2001, when hundreds of Arab al-Qaida militants — including possibly bin Laden — poured across the Afghan border into the Pakistani tribal areas of South and North Waziristan.

Hundreds of Central Asians who had fought alongside the Taliban fled across the border, too, joining countrymen who had settled in Waziristan in the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviets.

The official said many new arrivals took up residence in rambling mud-brick compounds run by the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, whose fighters also were hiding in the area. The Arabs settled in different towns in Waziristan, setting up training facilities in Shakai where they trained Pakistani recruits.

Unwanted attention
Many Central Asians had been living in the region for years without incident. But the flood of Arab al-Qaida suspects brought unwanted attention and problems.

At the same time, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan was left rudderless. Its commander and co-founder, Juma Namangani, was reportedly killed in a U.S. bombing campaign in late 2001.

He was replaced by Tahir Yuldash, known as a political philosopher rather than a military leader, said Katzman of the Congressional Research Service.

“They didn’t have a strong figure any more to articulate their interests,” said Katzman, whose agency advises U.S. lawmakers. “They had to rely more on the Arab leaders of al-Qaida.”

The heat began to rise amid a Pakistani military crackdown that flushed many militants out of the region in 2003 and 2004.

The Uzbeks and other Central Asians found themselves competing with Arab members of al-Qaida for hideouts and resources with Arabs having the political and economic advantage, Katzman said.

Increasingly independent
Adding to the tensions was a lack of trust by senior al-Qaida figures in the Central Asian fighters, said a senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official.

Another Pakistani security agent said the Central Asians “were al-Qaida’s foot soldiers, but they were never promoted. They felt ignored. The Central Asians were not happy,” he added. “Osama bin laden and (his Egyptian deputy) Ayman al-Zawahri only trusted Arabs.”

Increasingly, the two sides began operating independently, often competing for the same money, weapons and dwindling areas of influence among the Pakistani tribesmen. Captured Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik fighters felt far more loyalty to Yuldash than to the Arab al-Qaida men.

The Pakistani intelligence official said it was difficult to get captured Uzbeks to talk about Yuldash, “but it was a lot easier to grill them for clues about the Arabs and their possible hideouts. They felt far less loyalty.”

Another possible motivation for cooperation among captured Central Asians is a fear of being turned over to their home countries, which also have cracked down on Islamic militants.

Turning point
Information from captive Uzbeks and Chechens — as well as paid informants working with Pakistani and American intelligence — helped authorities carry out a devastating raid on al-Qaida’s training camp in Shakai in June 2004, Pakistani officials told AP.

That raid was a turning point, driving al-Qaida militants from their hideouts and making them easier to find.

Several militants, including a nephew of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed — the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind who was captured in March 2003 — were arrested in Karachi after the Shakai raid. Ultimately, police seized Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, a 25-year-old computer expert whose hard-drives held information about apparent plans to attack Heathrow Airport, financial sites in the United States and other targets.

Khan led authorities to Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian with a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head for his role in the deadly 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. Ghailani, a confidant of al-Libbi, was arrested July 25 after a gunbattle in eastern Pakistan.

Less is known about what led to al-Libbi’s arrest.

The Interior Ministry official told AP al-Libbi narrowly escaped arrest in the northwestern city of Peshawar in August 2004, but that authorities never completely lost his trail.

Pakistani army: Command and control is destroyed
An intercept by U.S. agents of a cell phone call made by al-Libbi reportedly helped Pakistani agents track him down. They lay in wait — some disguised in women’s all-encompassing burqas — then pounced as he and a colleague drove by motorcycle across a cemetery in Mardan.

Pakistani security agents say they’re confident they have broken al-Qaida’s back, although bin Laden and al-Zawahri remain at large.

“Al-Qaida is no longer intact in Pakistan as a network,” said Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the chief army spokesman. “Every organization needs a command structure and communication, and we have effectively destroyed both of them.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

EU split on Islamic terror threat

The Australian
Cameron Stewart

MORE than a year after the Madrid train bombings that left 191 people dead, and hundreds more injured, Europe is struggling to come to grips with the spectre of Islamic terrorism.

The strong words and lofty promises made by European leaders in the emotion-charged days after the Madrid tragedy now seem increasingly hollow as the continent struggles to adopt a unified approach to dealing with the terrorist threat.
The problem is being fuelled by sharp differences among the 25 member nations of the European Union about the gravity of the threat posed by Islamic terrorism – a division that creates further division about the steps needed to tackle it.

"This has become a real issue for us," a senior EU counter-terrorism expert says. "Ask the people of Finland how many of them are concerned about terrorism and about 6 per cent say they are. But ask the same question in Spain, and 93 per cent are worried about it. This makes it hard to get all member countries to agree on a solution."

The irony is that the Madrid bombings were supposed to be the glue that finally motivated European leaders to adopt a joint pan-continental approach to fighting terrorism, a battle that until then had been the domain of the national police and intelligence services, which paid only lip-service to sharing sensitive information on terrorists with their European neighbours.

In late March last year, barely two weeks after the Madrid bombings and with the haunting images of the slaughter fresh in everyone's minds, an angry group of EU justice ministers gathered to draw up an ambitious declaration on combating terrorism.

This promised an aggressive Europe-wide assault on terrorists, including the appointment of a counter-terrorism tsar, the setting up of joint databases, more resources for Europol, the European police agency, and a raft of other measures designed to prove the continental nations would fight terrorism as one.

In theory there was reason for optimism. After all, the EU was on the cusp of adding 10 new members to boost its membership to 25, stretching its tentacles from Ireland in the west to Poland in the east, and signalling more than ever that Europe was merging as a political and economic union to be reckoned with.

If the EU could bind so many nations with their vastly different cultures, languages and history into a massive single market with a mostly common currency and a shared commitment to democracy, then surely the fight against terrorism could also be conducted with one voice across the continent.

Well, not quite.

As former French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy stated, the union between European nations is not yet strong enough to extend to the full sharing of secrets that are considered central to national security, such as classified intelligence on terrorists.

"Intelligence is the most difficult and complex thing to share," says Sarkozy. "You have to protect your sources, which is already hard enough to do within the same country."

There is some sharing of counter-intelligence information between European countries on a bilateral and often informal basis, but the EU is struggling to convince its members that all counter-intelligence should be freely shared and made available between all 25 member states.

As one EU official joked: "The idea of British secret agent James Bond reporting his secret findings to Latvia is hard to imagine."

The problem is fuelled by the fact that when it comes to intelligence, including intelligence on counter-terrorism, some EU states are more equal than others.

For example, Britain has access to a higher level and quality of intelligence than other EU members because it is a member of the world's most powerful and secretive intelligence-sharing arrangement – the five-nation alliance with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

While London could theoretically share lower-level counter-terrorist intelligence with all the EU member states, the US would strongly oppose the sharing of highly sensitive intelligence with small countries such as the Czech Republic and Latvia, where the protection of the information and its source could not be guaranteed.

When fighting terrorism in Europe, the EU is hampered by the fact that one of its central achievements – the free movement of people across borders – makes it harder to track terrorists, who can move freely between countries with vastly different languages and police forces.

"It's very hard to prevent an incident like the Madrid bombings in somewhere like the EU, because the free movement of peoples is one of the objectives of the EU," says Jan Winkler, deputy minister of foreign affairs in the Czech Republic. Terrorism is hardly new to Europe, but struggles such as those involving the IRA in Northern Ireland and the Basque separatists in Spain have been targeted at a specific country for a specific cause, rather than posing a global threat like al-Qa'ida.

"What Madrid showed us was this sort of terrorism was not only directed at the Americans but is directed against our Western way of life in Europe also," says Jozsef Bali, Hungary's deputy state secretary for defence.

The problem is that not all EU countries – especially the smaller new members in eastern Europe – are convinced that Islamic terrorism poses any real threat to them.

While Britain, France and Spain put substantial national resources into fighting terrorism within their borders, many EU members are complacent about the threat.

After the Madrid bombings, EU members rejected the idea of a European intelligence agency on the grounds that the level of trust and co-operation between intelligence agencies needed to create such a body was not achievable.

Within the EU, there is no single body that deals with all matters relating to terrorism, and even the new European counter-terrorism tsar, Dutchman Gijs de Vries , has no power over member states beyond advising them and harassing them to take action.

More than a year after the Madrid attack, EU members have still not even agreed on ways to simplify the exchange of counter-terrorism information between law agencies.

The way forward is littered with obstacles from history. For example, the EU's push for closer co-operation between intelligence agencies and police on fighting terrorism is a problem in Germany, where the constitution says they must be separated because of the legacy of Nazism, when the police and intelligence services were combined in one agency.

The counter-terrorism resources given to the European police agency, Europol, remain absurdly inadequate. Europol operates on an annual budget off E58 million ($96million) compared with E450 million for Britain's domestic spy agency M15. And Europol has a staff of barely 350, compared with 28,576 agents in the America's FBI.

Some small steps have been taken, such as the European arrest warrant, which allows EU members to extradite suspected terrorists wanted by other EU countries.

But overall the security services of EU governments have proved reluctant to hand over their powers and secrets to an organisation which is still feeling its way on terrorism.

Despite the different views within Europe, there are common themes that are at odds with the views of the US. Europeans are generally more reluctant than the Americans to support the suspension of legal rights for terrorist suspects such as those held for years without charge at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

They are also more reluctant to accept the loss of civil liberties in the quest to prevent the next terrorist attack.

But none of this offsets the reality that terrorism has exposed the limits of a united Europe. Beyond the feel-good rhetoric, there have been few concrete results. The dream that Madrid would galvanise the continent into a single anti-terrorist juggernaut has vanished. The EU has helped unite Europe in many ways, but its feeble response so far to dealing with terrorism shows just how elusive a truly united Europe remains.

Facing New York City, Potential Targets Rely on a Patchwork of Security

New York Times
KEARNY, N.J., May 7 - It is the deadliest target in a swath of industrial northern New Jersey that terrorism experts call the most dangerous two miles in America: a chemical plant that processes chlorine gas, so close to Manhattan that the Empire State Building seems to rise up behind its storage tanks.

According to federal Environmental Protection Agency records, the plant poses a potentially lethal threat to 12 million people who live within a 14-mile radius.

Yet on a recent Friday afternoon, it remained loosely guarded and accessible. Dozens of trucks and cars drove by within 100 feet of the tanks. A reporter and photographer drove back and forth for five minutes, snapping photos with a camera the size of a large sidearm, then left without being approached.

That chemical plant is just one of dozens of vulnerable sites between Newark Liberty International Airport and Port Elizabeth, which extends two miles to the east. A Congressional study in 2000 by a former Coast Guard commander deemed it the nation's most enticing environment for terrorists, providing a convenient way to cripple the economy by disrupting major portions of the country's rail lines, oil storage tanks and refineries, pipelines, air traffic, communications networks and highway system.

Since 9/11, those concerns have only been magnified. Law enforcement officials have warned of the need to prepare for an assault on one of the four major chemical plants in the area or an attempt to ship nuclear or biological weapons through its two port complexes.

Trying to safeguard more than 100 potential terrorist targets in two miles surrounded by residential communities, industrial areas and commuter corridors has proved a daunting challenge. Federal, state and local officials have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to install gates, roadblocks and security cameras and to provide additional patrols, surveillance and intelligence operations.

But even those in charge of the effort say the job is incomplete, bogged down by obstacles that are a microcosm of the nation's struggle against potential terrorist threats.

After distributing tens of billions to state and local governments since 9/11, the federal Department of Homeland Security cut New Jersey's financing this year to about $60 million from $99 million last year. Many security experts have complained that the formula - which provides Montana with three times as much money per capita as New Jersey - is guided more by politics than by the likelihood of an attack.

Meanwhile, security at Newark Airport, while more rigorous and time-consuming for passengers, has been marred by embarrassing breakdowns, as screeners have repeatedly failed to prevent federal officials from sneaking weapons and fake bombs onto planes.

The time and expense of screening shipping containers has slowed attempts to tighten security at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth, where customs officials say their radiation screening devices are ineffective and need replacement.

The private companies that own 80 percent of the most dangerous targets have given varying degrees of cooperation, officials said, and the chemical industry has effectively blocked attempts in Washington to mandate stricter regulations.

As a result, many of the most crucial security tasks are left to local police departments, some of which say they are too understaffed and poorly equipped to mount a proper counterterrorism effort.

"They tell us to patrol, do this, do that, but don't give us the money or equipment," said Sgt. Michael Cinardo of the Kearny Police Department, one of several law enforcement agencies responsible for patrolling around the chlorine plant.

He said the department requires patrol officers to stop by the plant at least five times each shift.

Security against terrorism is a particularly sensitive issue in New Jersey. More than 700 people killed on 9/11 lived there. And, in October 2001, the first major bioterrorism attack on United States soil was launched from a New Jersey post office when a series of anthrax-laced letters were mailed to members of Congress and the news media. The State Health Department's muddled response came to symbolize the nation's need to prepare itself to face new threats.

Since then, New Jersey officials have spent more than $350 million in state tax money on counterterrorism, building an apparatus that is run by seasoned law enforcement experts and is generally well regarded.

New Jersey's Homeland Security Department, established in 2002, has helped to train, coordinate and increase staffing at local law enforcement and emergency medical agencies; assembled a 1,000-person task force to focus on urban areas; and purchased boats, decontamination suits, radio systems and a computerized intelligence network so federal agents and the New Jersey State Police can share information with all 566 municipalities.

In the most dangerous two miles, they have erected concrete barriers outside hospitals and office buildings and put fences along elevated highways that pass chemical plants. The State Police patrol the skies, highways and coastal waters, and federal officials have used various surveillance techniques. On the New Jersey Turnpike, troopers try to check any vehicle that stops for as little as five minutes.

But given the sheer number of vulnerable sites - three major oil and natural gas pipelines, heavily traveled rail lines and more than a dozen chemical plants - many security experts acknowledge that the response is inadequate.

In the months after 9/11, government officials routinely refused to discuss the most mundane aspects of security, saying that they did not want to offer inside information to potential enemies. Now, said Sidney J. Caspersen, the director of the state's Office of Counterterrorism, there is more risk in remaining silent.

"The terrorists already know what's out here," Mr. Caspersen said. "They have been found with blueprints of our buildings, and a lot of the information is available over the Internet or at a public library. The only question is whether we will find a way to protect these targets before they find a way to attack them."

The answer to that question will depend largely on the ability to operate with limited money and a tangle of bureaucracies.

In several instances, counterterrorism money sent to the state has been used for questionable purposes: the city of Newark spent $300,000 on two air-conditioned garbage trucks, and New Jersey Transit has proposed using $36 million in security money to overhaul the Hoboken Ferry terminal. Even groups like Taxpayers for Common Sense say that places like New Jersey, Houston and Long Beach, Calif., deserve more federal dollars.

As for the ports, the federal Homeland Security Department's inspector general's office recently criticized the agency for directing much of its $517 million in port security money to relatively low-risk sites in places like Kentucky and Tennessee, and not giving enough to busy, vulnerable facilities like Port Newark. Although the Port of New York and New Jersey recently received an additional $42 million for counterterrorism efforts, Port Newark lacks the up-to-date equipment now used to search cargo at ports like Hong Kong.

"We put more resources into securing the average large bank in Manhattan than we do for the entire security of Port Newark," said Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander who is now a security analyst for the Council on Foreign Relations and who conducted the study that first identified this part of North Jersey as the nation's most terror-prone two miles. "That's just irresponsible."

Some New Jersey officials have hoped that the newly appointed secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, will be sympathetic to the state's situation because he is a native of Elizabeth. But when he visited New Jersey during a terror drill last month, Mr. Chertoff was noncommital about restoring cuts.

"Frankly, it's not a matter of spending a great lot of money," he said. "It's a matter of taking resources we have and having a plan in place so we use them effectively."

New Jersey officials say that the cuts will force them to reduce surveillance of possible targets, cancel training sessions for first responders and counterterrorism experts, and forestall the purchase of equipment to detect chemical, nuclear or biological agents. The state has said it will also have to scale back plans to fortify storage facilities and rail lines near the Pulaski Skyway, an area known as "chemical alley."

Even if New Jersey were to receive more money, however, its counterterrorism effort would still face other difficulties.

At Newark Airport, which handles 32 million passengers a year, the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have spent tens of millions of dollars on high-tech baggage screening equipment, more guards and other security improvements. But Transportation Security Administration employees failed to detect weapons or fake bombs in about a quarter of the 81 tests conducted between last June and September. In December, when a machine detected a simulated explosive, baggage screeners lost track of it and it was loaded onto a flight to Holland.

Meanwhile, even less has been done to secure the nation's greatest vulnerability to terror attacks, its 15,000 chemical plants, 123 of which pose a threat to at least 1 million people, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A spokeswoman for the Chemistry Council, an industry group representing 150 of the nation's largest chemical plants, said its members had already invested $2 billion in improved security and were working with Congress to establish federal safety guidelines.

"We want to work with the Department of Homeland Security and Congress to make these plants safer in a way that works for everyone," Kate McGloon, the spokeswoman, said.

Michelle Petrovich, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, said agency officials had visited more than half the nation's 300 most dangerous plants and urged the companies to enhance perimeter security and switch to less hazardous chemicals and processes. As a result, Ms. Petrovich said, she believes North Jersey is "one of the safer areas because it has received the most attention in terms of protective measures."

But Richard A. Falkenrath, a former deputy homeland security adviser to the White House, said that effort has done little to make the public safer. "Saying that you're doing something doesn't mean you're actually making a difference," said Mr. Falkenrath, who recently testified before Congress, urging tighter regulation of the chemical industry.

Since 2001, at least two major efforts to bolster chemical plant security have been stalled, in part by industry lobbyists.

The latest proposal to tighten security at chemical plants, which appears to be gaining support in Congress, would establish safety guidelines. But Senator Jon S. Corzine said that it is only a half measure because it would not mandate that plants in densely populated areas stop using highly dangerous chemicals like chlorine gas and switch to more benign alternatives, like sodium hypochlorite. The plants use such chemicals to make antiseptics for water purification plants.

For those who live in the shadow of these plants, there is little expectation that the federal government will mount a more vigorous security response.

Carolyn M. Chapluske of Kearny, who has lived in North Jersey all her life, said, "People pay taxes and deserve to be protected. But they probably won't. It's just the way things work."

Influx of terrorists

Guess what this means for us with open borders ...............

Stewart Bell
National Post

Fateh Kamel answers the door of his Montreal townhouse. The alleged ringleader of the Groupe Fateh Kamel, from which Ahmed Ressam emerged, he returned to Canada in January after serving time in a French prison for terrorit-related crimes.

A number of "jihadist returnees" have arrived back in Canada from other countries and some may intend to commit acts of terrorism, according to a declassified intelligence report.

The report, by the government's Integrated National Security Assessment Centre (INSAC), says "a number of other Islamic extremists have recently returned to Canada from abroad.

"Those dedicated extremists possessing terrorist training and Canadian documentation may return to Canada in order to carry out an attack.

"They may also use their documentation to gain access to Western diplomatic missions, or other interests, for the purpose of terrorist attack," says the report, released under the Access to Information Act.

Several Canadians have attended terrorist training camps and participated in international extremist groups. Those that have returned to Canada have raised alarms about the threat they may pose to Canadians.

Last month, the National Post found the alleged former leader of a Canadian extremist cell living in a townhouse in Montreal. Fateh Kamel returned to Canada in January after serving a prison term in France for terrorist-related crimes.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says Mr. Kamel, 45, fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, recruited volunteers to fight in Bosnia in the 1990s and was associated with Osama bin Laden. He also played a central role in terrorist threats in France, CSIS wrote in a public report.

However, Mr. Kamel denied he was involved in extremism and said he barely knew Ahmed Ressam, an alleged member of his Montreal-based group who tried to blow up Los Angeles International Airport.

The report comes as U.S. officials are concerned about the possibility terrorists might attempt to cross the border from Canada to carry out an attack, a scenario attempted unsuccessfully by Ressam in 1999.

The U.S. State Department offered US$5-million rewards on April 20 for information on Canadians Abderraouf Ben Habib Jdey and Faker Ben Abdelaziz Boussora.

The men trained in Afghanistan and have said they want to die in a terrorist attack.

Authorities are concerned that Jdey may attempt to return to Canada or the United States to plan a terrorist attack. The whereabouts of Jdey and Boussora are unknown, although they may have been spotted in Turkey.

"Terrorist-related activities undertaken by individuals in Canada also include efforts to use Canada as a base for fundraising, recruiting supporters, acquiring, preparing and distributing false travel and identity documents," the INSAC report says.

"While some of these individuals are currently detained in Canada or abroad, others continue to be involved in terrorist-related activities. Al-Qaeda and like-minded Sunni Islamic extremist groups have adherents in both Canada and abroad who possess Canadian status."

The return to Toronto last year of members of the Khadr family, who lived in one of bin Laden's compounds in Afghanistan, prompted debate over how to deal with Canadians who have links to al-Qaeda.

The family patriarch, Ahmed Said Khadr, allegedly collected money in Canada and used it to finance al-Qaeda training camps. He was killed in a shootout with Pakistani security forces in October, 2003.

One of his sons, Abdurahman Khadr, testified in court last summer that "a lot" of Canadians attended terrorist training camps and then returned to Canada, and they "live their everyday life now and are not under arrest or anything."

The report notes that al-Qaeda listed Canada as its fifth most important Christian target in March, 2004, and that in November, 2002, bin Laden named Canada as a target in an audiotaped address.

INSAC (now called the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre) is an interagency group made up of representatives of CSIS, the RCMP, Department of National Defence, Department of Foreign Affairs, Communications Security Establishment and other departments.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Al Qaeda’s New York

The terrorists are still obsessed with the city—which is why the NYPD is trying to learn to think like terrorists.

By Guy Martin

By definition, New York makes people around the world want a piece of it. And in this context, the thousands of Al Qaeda planners, bomb-makers, sleepers, and wigged-out suicide cadres strewn from Kuala Lumpur to the Sunni triangle are just wannabe New Yorkers, as delirious as any wet-eared Broadway gofer to see their work writ large across the skyline. “We know we’re at the top of the Al Qaeda hit list,” says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in his trademark thirties-inflected copspeak. “The bombings in 1993 and 2001 and the landmarks plot showed that they came back here and would want to come back here.”

And if the next 25 years are to be a football game in which the offense lobs bombs with an infinite number of clandestine delivery methods, then we’re obligated to spend lots of time thinking about how and where.

Understanding the where is paramount. Al Qaeda is sentimental, which is to say its planners and strategists follow their hearts. It keeps them consistent. This is what Kelly means when he notes that for the past fifteen years, they have been announcing that they will attack—and then attacking—New York.

The density and wattage of the human-target grid here—Shea on a summer night, JFK at Thanksgiving, Macy’s on a Saturday, Times Square just about any time—make the city itself a meta-target and raise the value of each individual target in it. According to Osama’s medieval worldview, more dead Crusaders and Jews means more dead Crusaders and Jews, so that any place attacked in New York has intrinsic value, but it doesn’t get at the likelihood of what might be next.

“What turns a thing into a target?” says Brian Michael Jenkins, Rand Corporation terror expert. “First, high symbolic value. Then, what do they want to accomplish with their home audience? Operations are as much for display—to attract recruits, financial support, and to establish credentials—as they are intended to hurt us. They’re corporate communications.”

Targets are developed in two ways. The first is a top-down sort of structure, as when bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed selected, trained, and defined the missions of the several cells who ultimately flew on September 11. The second process, running concurrently, is that allied cells around the world reconnoiter targets on their own, throwing proposals to the central organization.

“Think of it like every taxi driver in Los Angeles is also writing a film script,” Jenkins continues. “So, they’re going to pitch these to an agent or a studio. If you’re bin Laden and the boys, you sort of have this constant incoming flow of target folders and project proposals: ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be great if we could take down the stock exchange?’ You might look at one of those and say, ‘Gee, that’s an interesting idea—let’s take it up from a pitch to a story treatment.’

“Since it’s not a fluid battle situation, the iterative process is very long, by which I mean that there will be revisions both up and down the command chain. They have a long horizon. They started doing feasibility studies for the second World Trade Center attack in 1996.”

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau, under Deputy Commissioner Michael Sheehan, supplies the 140 detectives who work with the FBI in the Joint Terrorism Task Force. “The question is, what’s happening now?” says Sheehan, in blue herringbone shirtsleeves at his conference table at One Police Plaza. “Is Al Qaeda’s central organization able to reorganize itself and launch strategic attacks like 9/11? Or are these smaller operational cells going to be launching strategic attacks, as in Spain? We know they’re trying. I had thought that the post-9/11 operations were much more local, decentralized, independent operations: Madrid, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and those of Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia, like Bali. But now I see ties back into Al Qaeda a little bit stronger than I thought, linkages going back to the training camps in the Afghan war.”

Such hydra-headed fluidity between groups and the continuum of activity reaching back fifteen years mean that NYPD counterterrorists must read the tea leaves in the operational detail of other attacks and investigations worldwide and distill the trends into possible narratives for the city. (And one concern near the top of Kelly’s list is that the bomb-making expertise developed in Iraq will be exported to New York.)

“In New York, you could begin making a list of targets downtown, and you’d have a very long one before you reached midtown,” says Jenkins. “But I’m convinced that the visuals trump the actuals for Al Qaeda. What I mean is, some of the infrastructure things that we may be concerned about, such as the Internet, may not be valuable targets, not just because of the lack of bloodshed but because of the visuals. These bombs are about a demonstration of prowess.”

Obvious targeting narratives determined the NYPD’s massive deployments around last summer’s Republican convention. Madison Square Garden at a mid-season Knicks game, however, doesn’t rate quite so high, which is to say the “softer” recreational targets get a slight—very slight—break from Al Qaeda.

Bombing the United Nations, which “gave” Afghanistan to the invading Americans after 9/11, or ripping a hole in the federal courthouse on Foley Square, where Al Qaeda foot soldiers have been tried and sent to prison, would be more pointed payback. The U.N., the city, and the U.S. government have understood the value of these targets and fortified them accordingly.

East 65th between Fifth and Madison has two NYPD Mobile Command Unit vans parked on it most days, not only because Temple Emmanuel is at the corner of Fifth, but also, not 100 feet down 65th, is the consulate of Pakistan, a reviled partner in the “war on terror.”

The grandfather of all New York targeting is Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh and Egyptian firebrand who arrived in Brooklyn in 1990 and is now incarcerated. Not only did he engineer the landmarks plot from his seat in the Al-Farooq Mosque on Atlantic Avenue, he inspired the nine-year campaign to destroy the World Trade Center. The landmarks plot was busted by the FBI as the plotters were mixing the fuel oil and the fertilizer for their truck bombs at a rented garage in Queens, but in a real sense it never stopped. This is both the tactical ineptitude and the brilliance of Al Qaeda: It has an endless supply of conspirators to take over.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, who has spent two years in custody under extreme interrogation on—so it is rumored—the Indian Ocean air base of Diego Garcia, has given us a relatively clear picture of the targeting chain. Although he’s allegedly no longer in possession of a coherent personality as a result of his recent stresses in purgatory, KSM, as he’s called by U.S. officials, had the imagination to dream the big dream and the operational finesse and attention to detail to work on multiple projects. He was Jenkins’s ultimate “studio mogul.” And his vast legacy of targets and his reconnaissance network continue to affect investigations and deployments worldwide.

“Al Qaeda operations,” says an analyst, “are as much for display as to hurt us. They’re corporate communications.”

One of KSM’s many agents was Iyman Faris, an Ohio truck driver and naturalized American. He was arrested with brio in March 2003, a month after the world’s best nameless interrogators began to sweat his boss. Faris was assigned to reconnoiter the Brooklyn Bridge. Specifically, he was to research methods for cutting the cables, and to buy the necessary oxyacetylene cutters. Faris determined that, after 9/11, as he communicated in his ham-handed code, “the weather is too hot.”

His case reveals two valuable targeting facts. First, KSM’s assignment to Faris occurred simultaneously, or shortly after, 9/11. KSM had just arranged the apocalypse on one side of lower Manhattan. He wanted Faris to move it a thousand yards east. The second fact has less to do with targeting and more to do with luck—namely ours. In deciding how he wanted to blow up the bridge, it seems that KSM overlooked his naturalized American agent’s own gifts. Iyman Faris had a national hazardous-materials truck-driving license.

“Faris is Al Qaeda, the real deal,” says Sheehan. “He’s a bit of a whack job; most terrorists are. He’d been in the war, in Afghanistan; he knew bin Laden; KSM told him to come to Manhattan. But that’s not the point. Faris could operate an eighteen-wheeler around the country with hazardous materials. Now, he had a long way to go to get operational, but this is our nightmare, an absolutely frightening profile.”

Three weeks ago, the United States District Court in New York released an indictment against a very energetic, British-educated, Indian-born Al Qaeda reconnaissance man named Dhiren Barot, a.k.a. Esa al-Hindi. Now in the hands of U.K. authorities, Barot will eventually be extradited to New York to face conspiracy charges. His arrest was the result of a daisy chain of 2004 arrests and interrogations in Pakistan, including the arrest of two of the suspected bombers of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. In their safe house, the Africans harbored some 51 compact discs of reconnaissance information and targeting research allegedly compiled by Barot.

Though dated from 2001, the reports were extraordinarily well written, according to Sheehan, who read them closely. Barot’s targets included the World Bank and the IMF in Washington, the Prudential building in Newark, the Citicorp building on Lexington Avenue, and, for the second time, the New York Stock Exchange. Twelve years ago, the NYSE occupied a place of honor on the landmark plotters’ target list, but they hadn’t cased it with Barot’s chilling specificity, down to the chair counts in the boardroom. However distant he was from becoming operational, Barot’s work means that the stock exchange still scratches the old Al Qaeda itch. It has become an idée fixe. Which, as we’ve seen, is a dangerous thing.

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