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Entries in Taliban (9)

Friday
Feb082013

Terror Sting: California Man Arrested in Taliban Car Bomb Plot

Doug Menuez/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Federal agents arrested a California man Friday morning in a terror sting after he allegedly tried to detonate a car bomb at an Oakland bank as part of a Taliban plot.

The FBI said the explosive device that Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, of San Jose tried to use was not operable and posed no threat, and that Llaneza's Taliban contact was actually an undercover agent.

According to authorities, in November Llaneza met with a man he believed was linked to the Taliban and the mujahideen in Afghanistan. At their initial meeting, Llaneza allegedly proposed a car-bomb attack against a bank and making the bombing look like the work of anti-government militias. According to the criminal complaint, Llaneza wanted to spark a government crackdown and a right-wing backlash that would lead to civil war.

Llaneza and his Taliban contact, who was really an informant, then allegedly constructed the bomb inside an SUV parked in Hayward, Calif. On the evening of Feb. 7, according to the complaint, Llaneza parked the SUV outside a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Road in Oakland and then walked to a nearby location, where he met the undercover agent. He was arrested by the South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force after he allegedly attempted to detonate the bomb via cellphone.

Llaneza appeared before a federal judge in Oakland Friday morning, and will return for a bail hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13. He is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec102012

Navy SEAL Killed in Raid to Free American Doctor from Taliban

John Moore/Getty Images (file photo)(WASHINGTON) -- One of the Special Operations troops involved in the raid to free an American doctor from the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan died of his wounds on Sunday.

A U.S. official confirmed the service member killed in the raid was a member of SEAL Team Six.

“I was deeply saddened to learn that a U.S. service member was killed in the operation, and I also want to extend my condolences to his family, teammates and friends,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement released on Sunday.  “The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy’s grip.  They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night.  In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld.  The torch of freedom burns brighter because of them.”

President Obama also praised the Special Operations force for their bravery.

“Yesterday, our special operators in Afghanistan rescued an American citizen in a mission that was characteristic of the extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism that our troops show every day,” Obama said on Sunday.

“Tragically, we lost one of our special operators in this effort,” he said.  “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, just as we must always honor our troops and military families.  He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free.”

Dr. Dilip Joseph and two colleagues were kidnapped on Dec. 5 by a group of armed men while returning from a visit to a rural medical clinic in eastern Kabul Province, according to a statement from their employer, Colorado Springs-based Morning Star Development.  The statement said the three were eventually taken to a mountainous area about 50 miles from the border with Pakistan.

Morning Star’s crisis management team in Colorado Springs was in contact with the hostages and their captors almost immediately, the statement said.

On Saturday evening in Afghanistan, two of the three hostages were released.  Morning Star did not release their names in order to protect their identities.  Dr. Joseph remained in captivity.

Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ordered the mission to rescue Joseph when “intelligence showed that Joseph was in imminent danger of injury or death”, according to a military press release.

Morning Star said Joseph was in good condition and will probably return home to Colorado Springs in the next few days.

A Defense Department official told ABC News that Joseph can walk, but was beaten up by his captors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep242012

Criminal Charges for Marines in Taliban Urination Video

The video appears to show four men in uniform looking around before urinating on three dead bodies. (http://apacheclips.com)(WASHINGTON) -- Two U.S. Marines have become the first to be criminally charged for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters on camera.

Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola are allegedly two of the four Marines shown in a video made in July 2011 in southern Afghanistan in which the men urinate on the corpses of three Afghan men while chuckling, according to Marine Corps spokesperson Col. Sean Gibson. A voice can be overheard in the background of the video apparently addressing the killed fighters, saying, "Have a nice day, buddy."

The two staff sergeants were officially charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties," failing to properly prevent or report misconduct by junior Marines under their command, the indiscriminate firing of a grenade launcher and the indiscriminate firing of an enemy machine gun.

Three other Marines from the same unit previously received non-judicial punishments after pleading guilty in connection with the video. Punishments for those Marines included a reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, and punitive letters for permanent placement in their personnel records.

In addition to the five Marines already facing punishments, a Marine Corps statement said "there are other pending cases related to this incident" and that further "disciplinary actions regarding other Marines will be announced at a later date."

All of the Marines identified so far were assigned to Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, Commander General of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, referred both staff sergeants to a Special Court Martial. Referring their cases to a Special Court Martial skips the evidentiary hearings needed to proceed to a General Court Martial and also limits their potential punishments.

Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said the maximum punishments available under a Special Court Martial is one year of confinement, a two-thirds forfeiture of pay for one year, a reduction in rank to Private and a bad conduct discharge.

The video was recorded during a counterinsurgency operation in Helmand Province on or about July 27, 2011, but it was not posted on the Internet until January 2012. As it spread on the Internet, it drew instant condemnation from top Pentagon officials who feared that it would lead to a backlash against American troops serving in Afghanistan.

Shortly after the video appeared online, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos initiated a criminal investigation to authenticate the video. He also commissioned a command investigation by a three-star general to determine what factors may have led to the recording of the video. Both investigations concluded in March.

Based on the information gleaned from the command investigation, Mills ordered a further inquiry completed in June that looked into possible misconduct by members of the unit involved in the incident beyond those depicted in the video.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

American Taliban John Walker Lindh Challenges Prison Prayer Policies in Court 

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) -- John Walker Lindh, dubbed the American Taliban when he was captured at the beginning of the Afghan war, is suing prison officials for the right to pray five times a day with fellow Islamic inmates.

Lindh, 31, is expected to testify in an Indianapolis courtroom Monday regarding the ban on daily group prayers in prison.

Lindh is being held in the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

"I am a Muslim and my religion requires that I perform five daily prayers in congregation. This is mandatory and not optional," Lindh wrote in a handwritten complaint to prison officials that was also filed in federal court.

A ban on daily group prayer was instituted in 2007 after Muslim inmates ignored a lockdown caused by a fire alarm, court documents stated. Inmates are free to pray in their individual cells.

Every Friday, Lindh and his fellow inmates in the specialized unit, are permitted to gather in the multipurpose room of the prison for the Jum'ah prayer service, which the Koran dictates must be done in a group, court documents stated.

The Communications Management Unit, which was established in 2006, has been referred to as "Guantanamo North." Inmates whose communications are considered "high risk" to the prison community and the public's security are housed in individual cells within the unit, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Lindh's lawsuit offered a glimpse inside the unit, where communications between prisoners and their visitors are tightly monitored.

Inmates in the unit are "out of their cells for virtually the entire day and are allowed to engage in a whole variety of congregate activities," court documents stated. Group prayer, however, is prohibited.

Amos Guiora, a professor of law at the University of Utah who teaches religion and terrorism courses, said daily group prayers in the unit are unlikely to be a terrorism concern.

"I don't think it raises security concerns, but if it goes beyond the text of the prayer than I can understand how it could be seen as a security question," Guiora said.

The daily prayers typically take "only a few minutes," according to Lindh's lawsuit.

Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teenager, was captured in Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001. During his sentencing, he condemned terrorism and said he made a "mistake" joining the Taliban.

"Although I thought I knew a good deal about the Taliban when I went to the front line, it's clear to me now that there were many things of which I was not aware," he said.

Lindh is eligible for release in 2019.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun042012

Live Rocket-Propelled Grenade Removed from Marine’s Leg

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- It was a medevac mission like few others that required heroic choices from all involved.

On January 12, Marine Lance Corporal Winder Perez was wounded in a Taliban attack in southern Afghanistan. The live explosive and a foot-long remnant from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) remained lodged in his leg.

A crew of four New Mexico National Guardsmen agreed to take on the risky assignment of flying him by medevac helicopter to get medical care.

“Each of us on the aircraft had to agree to take the patient on,” Spc. Mark Edens told ABC News affiliate KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“There was quite a bit of alarm among the crew at the time, as you can imagine,” Capt. Kevin Doo told KOAT.  “If the RPG exploded, you know Spc. Edens and Sgt. Hardesty are working on the patient directly over him, shrapnel alone would have been devastating. And about 18 inches behind where the patient is lying is over 300 gallons of jet aviation fuel, and it would have been catastrophic.”

When Perez arrived at the field hospital 65 miles away, he was not brought inside.  Instead Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Gennari and Army Staff Sergeant Ben Summerfield, an explosives expert, stood by his gurney and undertook the risky move of removing the foot-long section of the RPG from his leg. Wearing full combat gear and a flak jacket, Summerfield literally yanked the RPG from his leg, so that medical teams could treat his injuries.

Perez continues to recover from his wounds at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May142011

Six Accused of Providing Financial Support to Pakistani Taliban

Joe Raedle/Getty Images (File)(MIAMI) -- An Imam from Miami and his two sons are among six people charged with providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76, and his sons Irfan Khan, 37, and Izhar Khan, 24, all of whom reside in Florida, face a slew of charges U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer said Saturday. The three other people facing charges are Pakistan residents Ali Rehman, Alam Zeb and Amina Khan.

Hafiz Khan and his younger son were arrested in Miami, while the older son was taken into custody in Los Angeles. The other three defendants are said to be still at-large in Pakistan. The six suspects were indicted following an investigation by the FBI and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Authorities allege that from sometime in 2008 through November 2010 the suspects provided the Pakistani Taliban with money, financial services, and other forms of support. The defendants are accused of seeking to aid the terrorist organization in its fight against the Pakistan government and the government’s perceived allies such as the United States.

All six are charged with conspiring to provide, and providing, material support to a conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap persons overseas, as well as conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Hafiz Khan, Rehman and Zeb are also charged with providing material support to the Pakistani Taliban.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May042011

CIA Dir. Panetta Expects Release of Osama Bin Laden Death Photos

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- CIA Director Leon Panetta said Tuesday evening that he believes the photos documenting Osama bin Laden's death should and will be released, but both the CIA and White House say a decision has not been made.

Asked by reporters if a photo will be released, Panetta said, "I think it will be," adding that the White House will make the final decision.

Calls for the photos to be released have come from a broad spectrum of people, from families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to U.S. officials and even bin Laden's allies.

A 9/11 widow said Tuesday that she hopes President Obama will quickly release the photos because such proof would be "reassuring."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., whose Long Island district includes families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack and has been critical of Obama's record on national security, said having the photos released would eliminate any doubt.

"Let's not have any conspiracy theories develop, suddenly he's spotted walking through Singapore or something," King said.

The Taliban also wants to see them, releasing a statement Tuesday saying it would not believe bin Laden is dead until it sees proof or hears it from sources close to bin Laden.

ABC News has learned that the Obama administration possesses a number of photographs of Osama bin Laden's corpse after the 40-minute firefight at his Pakistani compound Sunday.  The photos were taken in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

The White House described the photos of bin Laden as "gruesome" and said they could be viewed as inflammatory by some.

Officials who have seen the photographs said bin Laden has a gunshot wound to his forehead and that brain matter is visible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

XM-25 'Punisher': The Army's New Taliban-Hunting Super Weapon

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The target is hiding in a building down range, but he's behind cover and won't pop out for a clear shot. But a U.S. soldier takes aim anyway and pulls the trigger, sending a small grenade round barreling through the air -- seemingly too high to even be close to a hit.

Then, at the precise moment the grenade round flies over the cover and is just above the enemy, it suddenly explodes, taking the target down.

That particular scenario is only played out with a model target in a new video of the Army's next generation grenade rifle system, but similar scenes have already taken place in several real firefights in Afghanistan for the few lucky soldiers who are equipped with the experimental XM-25, lovingly referred to as "The Punisher."

The video, released by the Army and posted on Military.com, is the closest look yet at the XM-25 and demonstrates not only the weapon's ability to detonate a grenade at a precise, preprogrammed distance, potentially eliminating enemies' ability to hide behind cover, but also its high-tech sighting system and various ammunition loads.

Five prototypes of the rifles have already seen combat in nine operational missions in Afghanistan as part of what the military called a "forward operational assessment" of the weapon. There, they helped soldiers put a quicker end to deadly firefights, according to a February report by the military.

"The XM25 brought the difference to whether they would stay there 15 to 20 minutes shooting [and] taking pot shots or the actual fight ended after using the XM-25," said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Smith, Soldier Requirements Division, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga., according to the report. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Hawaiian Man Charged in International Terrorism Case

Photo Courtesy - Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Hawaiian man was arrested last Friday, accused of trying to join the Taliban or a similar group.  According to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in the Eastern District of New York, Abdel Hameed Shehadeh is charged with making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism.

According to the complaint, Shehadeh devised a plan in early 2008 to travel to Pakistan to join the Taliban or a similar fighting group.  To put the plan into effect, Shehadeh flew on a one-way ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Islamabad, Pakistan on June 13, 2008.  But upon landing in Pakistan, he was denied entry by Pakistani officials and returned to the U.S.

Under questioning by FBI agents and New York police detectives, Shehadeh initially said he traveled to Pakistan to visit an Islamic university and to attend a friend's wedding.  The complaint alleged he subsequently admitted to FBI agents in Hawaii that the true purpose of his trip to Pakistan was to join a fighting group such as the Taliban.  The complaint also alleged Shehadeh attempted to recruit another person to join him immediately after the two discussed a sermon by radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.             

Shehadeh later attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army at the Times Square recruiting station in New York City, but his application was denied when it was discovered he concealed his trip to Pakistan.  In addition, the complaint alleged Shehadeh created and administered multiple websites dedicated to spreading violent jihadist ideology.

If convicted, the 21-year-old could face up to eight years in prison.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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