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Entries in FBI (157)

Monday
Mar192012

Trayvon Martin's Family Seeks FBI Investigation of Killing

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The family of Trayvon Martin is asking the FBI to get involved in the investigation of the killing of the unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student, who was shot last month by a self-appointed neighborhood watchman outside his stepmother's home.

Martin, a black high school junior, was making his way home with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea on Feb. 26 when George Zimmerman spotted him, called a non-emergency dispatch number to report that Martin looked intoxicated, followed him, and then minutes later after an altercation, shot him.

Zimmerman, 28, who is white, claimed self defense.  He was never arrested and has been charged with no crime, sparking national outrage.

ABC News has learned police seemed to accept Zimmerman's account at face value that night and that he was not tested for drugs or alcohol on the night of the shooting, even though it is standard procedure in most homicide investigations.

Now, Martin family attorney Ben Crump has written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, and it's being circulated by several members of Congress who are putting pressure on him to get the FBI involved.

An FBI spokesman told ABC News: "We are aware of the incident, we have been in contact with local authorities and are monitoring the matter."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar152012

FBI Warns of Homegrown Violence After Afghan Massacre

Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal authorities have issued a warning there could be "acts of violence" in the United States sparked by the recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan allegedly by an American soldier.

"The FBI and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] are concerned that this event could contribute to the radicalization or mobilization of homegrown violent extremists [HVEs] in the homeland, particularly against U.S.-based military targets which HVEs have historically considered legitimate targets for retaliation in response to past alleged U.S. military actions against civilians overseas," the FBI and DHS said in a joint "awareness bulletin" to law enforcement agencies on Wednesday.

The bulletin noted that there is no specific threat at this time and said it is "unlikely" the recent killings and other "high-profile perceived offenses against Islam" would motivate any homeland extremist to violent action.  "However," the bulletin says, "[the killings] will likely be incorporated into violent extremist propaganda and could contribute to an individual's radicalization to violence."

High level federal officials have repeatedly warned that one of the greatest threats facing the American homeland comes from self-radicalized, homegrown terrorists who may be inspired by -- but have little to no contact with -- major terrorist groups.

In December, a Congressional report released by the staff of Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said such homegrown terrorists were a "severe and emerging threat" to the U.S. military at home and said military communities in the U.S. "have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland."

Tensions at home and abroad have been strained since an American soldier was accused of systematically murdering 16 Afghan civilians -- mostly women and children -- in the middle of the night Sunday, apparently in an unprovoked attack in Kandahar.

The soldier, identified only as a staff sergeant hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, surrendered when he returned to his base in Afghanistan and has since been moved to Kuwait.

The killings have sparked several heated protests in Afghanistan during which Afghans burned an effigy of President Obama as well as the cross.

Speaking of the alleged killing spree, Obama said Tuesday, "The United States takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered."

"The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it's unacceptable. It's not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military," he said. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

FBI: Budget Cuts Could Hamper Bomb Tracking

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert S. Mueller warned lawmakers Wednesday that a possible budget cut could delay his agency’s efforts to find terrorists and bombmakers.

The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) at Quantico was established in late 2003 to help counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) faced by U.S. soldiers in war zones.

FBI officials say they have analyzed over 80,000 IEDs at TEDAC, but Mueller, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, said that the proposed budget cut could lead to a greater backlog in the analysis of devices, preventing timely fingerprint analysis of suspected and known terrorists.

“We have the process of evaluating IEDs that have been discovered in Iraq and now Afghanistan,” Mueller said, “and we take those IEDs and  process them through our laboratory for fingerprints for DNA, for the designs.  We have a backlog and that -- our ability to get through that backlog -- will be impacted by that rescission.”

The FBI’s budget request for 2013 includes a $162 million cut from the FBI’s Salaries & Expense account. FBI officials declined to say how large the backlog of IEDS waiting to be analyzed is.

“I’ve got monies allocated to address that backlog,” Mueller added. “If we’re cut, I can’t do that backlog and that enhances the risk that we will not have a fingerprint of an individual on an IED, and that individual may get into Europe or may get into the United States.”

“That is less important than making certain we follow every lead on every potential terrorist in the United States,” Mueller continued. "So I have to prioritize.  But with the prioritization comes an enhanced risk.”

There have been an estimated 127,105 IED attacks in Iraq and 52,963 IED attacks in Afghanistan since 2004, according to military records.

The budget rebalancing could also cut $37 million from the FBI’s internal computer security system in an effort to centralize all FBI records.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar072012

FBI Turns Off 3,000 GPS Devices Following Supreme Court Ruling

iStockphot​o/Thinksto​ck(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. Supreme Court decision prompted the FBI to turn off nearly 3,000 Global Positioning System (GPS) devices used to track suspects, according to the agency’s general counsel.

When the decision–U.S. v. Jones–was released at the end of January, agents were ordered to stop using GPS devices immediately and told to await guidance on retrieving the devices, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann said in a recent talk at a University of San Francisco conference.  Weissmann said the court’s ruling lacked clarity and the agency needs new guidance or it risks having cases overturned.

The Jones case stemmed from the conviction of night club owner Antoine Jones on drug charges. Law enforcement had used a variety of techniques to link him to co-conspirators in the case, including information gathered from a GPS device that was placed on a Jeep primarily used by Jones. Law enforcement had no valid warrant to place the device on the car.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a five-member majority, held that the installation and use of the device constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment based on trespassing grounds. The ruling overturned Jones’ conviction.

“It is important to be clear about what occurred in this case,” Scalia wrote. “The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

It was a narrow ruling only directly impacting those devices that were physically placed on vehicles.

Weissmann said it wasn’t Scalia’s majority opinion that caused such turmoil in the bureau, but a concurring opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. Alito, whose opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, agreed with the Court’s conclusion in the case but wrote separately because his legal reasoning differed from the majority.

Alito focused not on the attachment of the device, but the fact that law enforcement monitored Jones for about a month. Alito said “the use of longer-term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy.”  He also suggested that Scalia’s reliance on laws of trespass, will “provide no protection” for surveillance accomplished without committing a trespass.

“For example,” Alito wrote, “suppose that the officers in the present case had followed respondent by surreptitiously activating a stolen vehicle detection system that came with the car when it was purchased?”

In his talk at a University of San Francisco Law Review Symposium, Weissmann suggested that Alito’s concurrence means that several members of the court are concerned with long-term surveillance by technologies beyond GPS systems and that the FBI needs new guidance in order to ensure that evidence does not get thrown out.

“I just can’t stress enough,” Weissmann said, “what a sea change that is perceived to be within the department.”

He said that after agents were told to turn off the devices, his office had to issue guidance on how some of the devices that had been used without a warrant could actually be retrieved without violating the law.

Weissmann said the FBI is working on two memos for agents in the field. One seeks to give guidance about using GPS devices.  A second one targets other technologies beyond the GPS as they may also face restrictions.

“I think the court did not wrestle with the problems their decision creates,” said Weissmann.

In the Jones opinion, he said, the court didn’t offer much clarity or any bright line rules that would have been helpful to law enforcement.

Catherine Crump, an attorney with the ACLU, welcomed the court’s ruling as a first step toward preserving privacy rights.

“Alito’s concurrence concerned the FBI because if tracking someone’s movements violates their privacy, that should be true no matter what technology the FBI uses,” says Crump. “The FBI now needs to give guidance to agents in the field, and the Alito decision raises serious questions about the constitutionality of other ways of tracking suspects.”

As for Antoine Jones, the man whose conviction was thrown out because of the ruling, the government has announced that it wants to retry Jones without using evidence obtained from the GPS device. The trial is expected to start in May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb262012

FBI Seeks Help Finding ‘Eco-terrorists’ Who Firebombed Feed Trucks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI is asking the public for help in identifying a group of “eco-terror criminals” who claimed responsibility for destroying 14 trucks at a ranch owned by California’s largest beef producer in January.

During the early morning hours on Jan. 8, 2012, a group of animal liberation activists cut through a fence at the Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, Calif., and set improvised incendiary devices beneath tractor trailers on the property, causing $2 million worth of damage.

“The danger that this presents to all of us in the community cannot be overstated,” the FBI said in a statement released Friday that asked the public for help. “Although the offenders may believe that they are being careful, each moment they spend working with these extremely sensitive and volatile materials places friends, family, neighbors, children, and other members of our community in grave danger.”

No injuries were reported at the ranch.

An anonymous group claimed responsibility on the North American Animal Liberation Front‘s website.

“We’re not delusional enough to believe that this action will shut down the Harris Feeding Company, let alone have any effect on factory farming as a whole. But we maintain that this type of action still has worth, if not solely for the participant’s peace of mind, then to show that despite guards, a constant worker presence, and razorwire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable,” the group said in a statement.

The Harris Feeding Company spans 800 acres and produces almost 250,000 fed cattle per year.

This is the most notable crime in terms of scale in recent years that has been tied to the animal liberation movement.

Activists burned a University of California-Davis veterinary laboratory in 1987, and in 1992 they firebombed a Michigan State University laboratory.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb222012

Would-Be Capitol Bomber Waives Right to Detention Hearing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amine El Khalifi, the 29-year-old Moroccan man charged last Friday in an FBI sting in a plot to bomb the Capitol made a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon and waived his right to a detention hearing.

The court appearance lasted only a few minutes with Khalifi not seeking bond for his release while the case proceeds.

Khalifi appeared before a federal magistrate wearing a green jumpsuit with "PRISONER" labeled on the back, as he was flanked by his defense lawyers from the Federal Defenders office.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Virginia is expected to indict Khalifi in the next 30 days after presenting the case to a federal grand jury.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb172012

FBI Arrests Man Who Allegedly Plotted to Attack the US Capitol

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A man who allegedly wanted to carry out a suicide bombing near the U.S. Capitol was arrested Friday in an FBI sting operation.

Sources tell ABC News the man wanted to target the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, and had reached out obtain a suicide vest.  FBI undercover agents apparently provided him with an inert suicide vest, and arrested him as he was on his way to his target Friday morning.

The suspect, said to be man of Moroccan descent, has not yet been identified.

The FBI had been monitoring the man for about a year and in recent weeks finalized the sting. The public was never in danger, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

In statement Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said, ‘“We can confirm that there has been an arrest of a suspect in Washington, D.C. in connection with a terrorism investigation.  The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which the suspect was closely monitored by law enforcement.

“Explosives the suspect allegedly sought to use in connection with the plot had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public.

“Additional information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Feb112012

Arrest Made in Videotaped Beating of Gay Man

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Police have made an arrest in the videotaped assault of a 20-year-old gay man in Atlanta last Saturday.

Christopher Cain, 18, was taken into police custody at the Fulton County Jail Saturday morning on charges of aggravated assault and robbery. Authorities say they are still looking for two suspects in connection with the attack on Brandon White.

The video, which surfaced shortly after last weekend's assault in southwest Atlanta, shows three men beating White while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Atlanta police say the FBI is assisting with the investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb032012

Anonymous Listens in on FBI, Scotland Yard Hacking Call

FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The hacking collective Anonymous managed to listen in on a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard as the law enforcement officers were discussing anti-hacking operations, the FBI admitted Friday.

Calling it "OpInfiltration," Anonymous members were allegedly able to steal a personal email which included instructions for dialing into the Jan. 17 private call. On Friday, the group published a recording of the call -- which discussed the timing of planned arrests and identities of suspected hackers -- as well as the email addresses of the officials on it.

In the call, a Scotland Yard official discusses a few suspected hackers in particular, including a 15-year-old that the official calls "an idiot" and another who's, "just a pain in the bum."

"Listen along, and laugh out loud at the law enforcement agents bumbling away," a description posted along with the recording said.

"The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms [communications] for some time now," an Anonymous spokesperson bragged on Twitter.

An FBI official acknowledged the infiltration, saying in a statement, "The information was intended for law enforcement officers only and was illegally obtained."

"A criminal investigation is underway to identify and hold accountable those responsible," the statement said.

An official with Scotland Yard also confirmed the recording, but declined to comment further.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

FBI Locates Missing Georgia Girls in Tennessee

Amber Henry and Kirsten Kamradt (Lamar County Sheriff Office)(LAMAR COUNTY, Ga.) -- Authorities have found two teenage girls from Georgia who apparently were taken in the middle of the night.

Amber Henry, 16, and Kirsten Kamradt, 14, went missing from their homes early Wednesday, said Capt. Todd Pippin of Lamar County Sheriff's Department.

According to Pippin, U.S. marshals and the FBI found the girls in Tennessee.

"Amber was released at a gas station and called for help," Pippin said. "Kirsten was still in the suspect's vehicle. Detectives found the vehicle in Hamblen County and pulled it over moments ago."

Kirsten was picked up by Joshua Crowe, 19, in a white Buick around 1 a.m. Wednesday, Pippin said. Dustin Elliot, 19, was with Crowe at the time. Detectives said what started off as a joy ride turned ugly when the men forced the girls across state lines.

"We are just happy they've been found and the families can have peace," Pippin said.

Kirsten's mother, Jennifer Kamradt, discovered her daughter missing when she woke up.

"I woke up to get her to school at about 7 in the morning -- she wasn't there," Kamradt said.

The girls know the two men through social networking websites, said Sgt. Mark Barry, also with Lamar County Detective Unit. According to Barry, one of the men may have a psychological condition that put the girls in danger.

Both men face kidnapping charges and remain in custody at this time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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