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Entries in Compound (7)

Wednesday
Nov282012

Texas Targets Warren Jeffs' Compound in 'Final Chapter' of Battle Against Sect

Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice(AUSTIN, Texas) -- It was once a gleaming symbol of a bizarre, hidden world -- a Texas compound where authorities say Warren Jeffs could make polygamy the law of the land.

Today, the 1,600-acre plot of land known as the Yearning for Zion Ranch is directly in the crosshairs of the Texas Attorney General's office.

According to a 91-page affidavit filed Wednesday by the State of Texas, "Warren Steed Jeffs orchestrated the purchase of the Suspected Place for the purpose of facilitating and perpetrating criminal offenses, including Bigamy, Sexual Assault, and Aggravated Sexual Assault."

Jeffs was convicted a year ago of sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.

Officials call their attempt to seize the group's compound "the final chapter" in a multimillion-dollar battle against the polygamist sect, which authorities believe was centered around sexual abuse and funded through money laundering.

Authorities say Jeffs used the compound's temple to commit his crimes, saying it "was constructed in a special manner so that Warren Steed Jeffs could perpetuate sexual assaults in the Temple building."

And they quote from Jeffs' own designs and the group's "Priesthood Records": "There is a table, but it will be made so it can be a table or it can be a bed. It should be made so the tabletop can come off. It will be on wheels… This will be made so that it can be taken apart and stored in a closet where no one can see it. When I need it, I will pull it out and set it up… It will be covered with a sheet, but it will have a plastic cover to protect the mattress from what will happen on it."

Authorities detail Jeffs in his own words to make their case that the compound's very existence was centered around protecting criminal activity.

"The devil knows where we are, but through our faith the wicked and the righteous can be blinded and not find this place," Jeffs wrote, according to authorities.

ABC News had rare access inside the compound following a police raid in 2008. At that time, women inside denied that young girls had sex forced upon them.

"That is a lie. They are not forced," a woman identified as Marilyn said.

But Elissa Wall, a former child bride from the ranch, says that terrible things went on within the compound and that its end is long overdue.

Already, most of the compound's residents have left, following a series of arrests involving the group's men. No word what will become of it if the State of Texas wins the right to seize it -- a rural chunk of land haunted by its past.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

CIA Will Get Access to Osama Bin Laden Compound

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The CIA will get access to the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound where former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden lived,  evaded capture for years, and died, sources confirm to ABC News.

U.S. intelligence officials will be allowed into the compound "within days," a source said, a sign that American-Pakistani cooperation may slowly be returning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Geronimo Descendants Want Apology from President Obama

Hulton Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of the descendants of Apache Chief Geronimo is waiting for an apology from the White House.

"Geronimo" was used as a code name by Navy SEALs when they signaled that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a raid on the al Qaeda leader's compound in Pakistan this past Sunday

In a statement to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Harlyn Geronimo, a great grandson of the Native American warrior, said associating his ancestor's name with the world's most wanted fugitive was "a grievous insult."

Besides demanding an apology from President Obama or Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Harlyn Geronimo, who served two tours in Vietnam with the Army, wants "this use of the name 'Geronimo'" expunged "from all the records of the U.S. government."

The matter will be taken up by committee lawmakers who were participating Thursday in a meeting already scheduled to discuss "the impact of racist stereotypes on indigenous people."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

Bin Laden Evidence: Al Qaeda Considered 9/11 Anniversary Attack

CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An early read of the materials seized from Osama bin Laden's compound has not yet produced evidence of a specific, imminent terror plot against the U.S., but does show the group continues to have murderous aspirations, according to U.S. officials and documents obtained by ABC News.

The trove of evidence U.S. Navy SEALs recovered during their raid of Bin Laden's compound, which cost the al Qaeda leader his life, shows that al Qaeda remained fixated on so-called soft targets like transportation.

A new bulletin issued Thursday night by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News describes the terror organization's chilling desire to derail a train.

"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group.  "As one option, al-Qa'ida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."

"You can't guard hundreds of miles of track," said ABC News consultant and former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke.  "And if they can get to one location that is not well guarded and put explosives on it or do something to cause the train to derail that's a lot easier than going after an aircraft."

In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change.  We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time."  Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler.

Chandler said that since Sunday, DHS had taken "a number of actions," including adding additional officers at airports and reviewing protective measures for potential terror targets.

The information on a potential rail attack was among a variety of conerns being shared with Homeland Security and regional authorities, and it was not yet known what other soft targets might have considered.

According to Richard Clarke, the fact that such proposals were discovered in bin Laden's possession shows how integral he still appeared to be to terror plots.

The evidence appears to confirm that bin Laden still had a role in approving al Qaeda plots, just as he did for the 9/11 terror attack.

One U.S. official told ABC News that the materials found at the bin Laden hideout included schematics and websites involving a variety of plots al Qaeda was considering.

One official described the documents reviewed so far as "aspirational" but not indicative of final stage planning. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May062011

SEALs Brought Highly-Trained Dog with Them into Bin Laden Compound

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor/Released(WASHINGTON) -- They may look like your normal house dog, but these military dogs are highly trained, invaluable assets in the war on terror.  They are capable of detecting explosives, finding enemies and chasing down anyone who tries to escape.

SEAL Team Six, the elite military operatives who killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Sunday night, were accompanied by one such canine companion.

"The capability they [the dogs] bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine," said Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  "By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our industry.  Our Army would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource."

The dogs are a fighting force on four legs that are able to parachute into action, rappel into combat and swim into a skirmish.  They are outfitted with protective body armor and a powerful bite.  According to the U.S. Air Force, the bite from a German shepherd, one of the breeds used by the military, has a force of between 400 and 700 pounds.

While its bite may be impressive, it is a military dog's exceptional ability to detect bombs that makes it indispensable to soldiers.

"They've spent millions of dollars trying to come up with the best bomb detection technology," said Rebecca Frankel, deputy managing editor of foreignpolicy.com, who writes War Dog of the Week for the site.  "After all that money and all that time devoted to it, they've come to the conclusion that in fact a dog and a handler best any technology on the ground today."

The Taliban has also noticed the value of the dogs.

"It's unfortunate, but the Taliban has wisened to the fact that these dogs are so successful at uncovering IEDs and so they are actually a target," Frankel told ABC News.  "If they have them [the dogs] out on a lead or let them go in front of the unit often times I do think they attract sniper fire earlier."

Last year, at a cost of more than $20,000 per unit, the SEALs bought four tactical vests for their dogs, according to The New York Times.  The vests are reported to have infrared and night-vision cameras that allow handlers to use a monitor from up to 1,000 yards away to see what the dog sees.  The handler is also able to communicate with the dog through a speaker on the vest.

Frankel says there are upwards of 3,000 dogs deployed and that using dogs in war is nothing new.

"Dogs have been fighting with U.S. soldiers for centuries...unofficially in the Civil War and then officially inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942 for World War II." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Experts: Secret Helicopters Revealed in Osama Bin Laden Raid

A Blackhawk UH-60 in flight. U.S. Army(WASHINGTON) -- Before an elite team of U.S. Navy SEALs executed a daring raid that took down Osama bin Laden, the commandos were able to silently sneak up on their elusive target thanks to what aviation analysts said were top secret, never-before-seen stealth-modified helicopters.

In the course of the operation that cost the al Qaeda leader his life, one of the two Black Hawk helicopters that carried the SEALs into bin Laden's Pakistani compound grazed one of the compound's walls and was forced to make a hard landing.  With the chopper inoperable, at the end of the mission the SEALs destroyed it with explosives.

But photos of what survived the explosion -- the tail section of the craft with curious modifications -- has sent military analysts buzzing about a stealth helicopter program that was only rumored to exist.  From a modified tail boom to a noise-reducing covering on the rear rotors and a special high-tech material similar to that used in stealth fighters, former Department of Defense official and vice president of the Lexington Institute Dan Goure said the bird is like nothing he's ever seen before.

"This is a first," he said.  "You wouldn't know that it was coming right at you.  And that's what's important, because these are coming in fast and low, and if they aren't sounding like they're coming right at you, you might not even react until it's too late...That was clearly part of the success."

In addition to the noise-reducing modifications, a former special operations aviator told The Army Times that the general shape of what was left of the craft -- the harsh angles and flat surfaces more common to stealth jets -- was further evidence it was a modified variant of the Black Hawk.

A senior Pentagon official told ABC News the Defense Department would "absolutely not" comment on anything relating to the destroyed bird.

Neighbors of bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, told ABC News they didn't hear the helicopters the night of the Sunday raid until they were directly overhead.  The rotor covering, along with a special rotor design, suppressed the choppers' noise while inbound, Bill Sweetman, editor-in-chief of Defense Technology International, said.

"Helicopters make a very distinctive percussive rotor sound which is caused by their rotor blades and if you can blend that down, of course that makes a noise that is much less likely to be heard and much more likely to blend into any background noise that there is," Sweetman said.

The U.S. has attempted to use stealth helicopters before.  In the mid-90s, the Army developed several prototypes of the Comanche helicopter, a reconnaissance helicopter that was at the time a revolutionary step in stealth technology.  But in 2004 the Department of Defense scrapped the program and promised to used technology developed for the Comanche on other crafts.

Since then, the government has been working to silence the Army's Black Hawk helicopters but an official program for the stealth choppers was never publicized.  The wreckage, Sweetman said, is the first the public has ever seen of an operational stealth-modified helicopter.

Goure said he believes the stealthy Black Hawks have been in use for years without the public's knowledge.

"We probably have been running hundreds of missions with these helicopters over the last half dozen years, and the fact is, they've all been successful -- or at least the helicopters have all come back," he said.

But now that one went down and photographs emerged of large sections being taken from the crash site under a tarp, former White House counterterrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said U.S. officials may have reason to worry about where those parts end up.

"There are probably people in the Pentagon tonight who are very concerned that pieces of the helicopter may be, even now, on their way to China, because we know that China is trying to make stealth aircraft," he said.

The Chinese military is known to have a close relationship with the Pakistani military.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May032011

Osama Bin Laden Evidence Trove: US Hopes to Follow Money Trail

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S agents charged with disrupting and dismantling al Qaeda are hoping Sunday's harrowing raid of Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound yields valuable financial clues that could help them expose the underpinnings of the entire organization, including the identities of the major donors who have bankrolled the terror network.

American authorities are ready to follow the money, experts say, hoping detailed ledgers and financial records were scooped up during the raid in which bin Laden was killed. They say any wealthy financiers whose donations helped support the bin Laden terror network now have reason to be nervous.

"Al Qaeda has traditionally been funded by deep-pocket donors," said Stuart Levy, who served as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence and is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "If people have been giving money, and they don't know yet whether their name is being identified in this intelligence, or that their name might be on a list of potential donors, they might have real reason to worry."

Top counterterror officials said the Navy SEALs who conducted the raid on bin Laden's fortified lair did not leave empty handed. But they have not disclosed what exactly they carried away along with bin Laden's corpse.

John Brennan, the president's chief counterterrorism advisor, told reporters the military team "took advantage of their time there to make sure that we were able to acquire whatever material we thought was appropriate."

He wouldn't describe in detail what they found, but said the quantity of the material was not as encouraging as its quality. A special CIA team has been designated to go through it.

"We feel as though this is a very important time to continue to prosecute this effort against al-Qaida, take advantage of the success of yesterday and to continue to work to break the back of al-Qaida," Brennan said.

Levy noted that in Iraq, detailed financial books were discovered in 2007 that provided a roadmap for al Qaeda in Iraq's financial structure. In 2010, a drone strike by U.S. forces took out the man believed to be al Qaeda's chief financial officer, Saeed al-Masri. Little is known about the bookkeeping that occurred after that.

"Others replaced him, but we don't know that they exerted the same control," Levy said.

Whether bin Laden took over that work himself, or kept those records with him remains unclear. But if he did, Levy said, those records could do lasting damage to the entire al Qaeda network.

Investigators are relishing the chance to put their hands on actual records that will enable them to dissect bin Laden's operations, said John Nagl, a counter-terrorism expert who serves as president of the Center for New American Studies. His ability to operate in the world without leaving a trace of himself is what helped him evade capture for more than a decade.

"He did a very good job in hiding himself from the outside world," Nagl said. "He cut himself off from all electronic emissions."

But for his use of couriers whom the CIA was eventually able to track, he may never have been found, Nagl said. "The ability to track his curriers, to find someone he trusted, then to follow that person all the way back to the rats nest was absolutely essential in this," he said.

Regardless of what records have been uncovered in the raid, bin Laden's death will in some respects cripple al Qaeda's ability to raise money – and not just because bin Laden served as an inspirational leader to his followers, Levy said. The network's infamous leader served as a stabile presence for donors who wanted to support the al Qaeda mission. Now, those soliciting donations will have no way to prove to potential donors that they really represent the terror movement.

"That could really create chaos for their fundraising," Levy said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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