Entries in terror (11)


Misspelled Word Drives Man to Terror Attempt

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(SALEM, Ore.) -- A man accused of trying to blow up a sign at the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission office told employees that he acted because a word on the building's sign was misspelled.

The sign, which is missing the letter "D" in the word "and," reads "Teacher Standards an Practices Commission," according to the Statesman Journal. The man, 50-year-old Leonard Burdek, told multiple employees that the sign prompted his attempted bombing.

Burdek walked into the building and placed a pressure cooker with wires sticking out of it onto the counter in front of a receptionist, says the Statesman Journal. After the receptionist asked him to leave, she began to dial 911, prompting Burdek to take the pressure cooker and go.

After he left, the staff immediately locked the doors of the building.

According to the Statesman Journal, shortly after the initial incident, employees spotted Burdek in a van nearby and informed police. Burdek was taken into custody at about 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Burdek apparently complained that the instructions he had found online to build the device were rife with misspelled words as well.

While the device did not turn out to be a bomb, Burdek was charged with disorderly conduct.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Arraignment For Texas Terror Suspect

Lubbock County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images(LUBBOCK, Texas) -- The man accused of buying chemicals and equipment to build a weapon of mass destruction makes another court appearance Monday.

Federal investigators say Khalid Aldawsari had picked out several locations around the country, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, targeting them for destruction. 

The 20-year-old landed on the FBI's radar when the company from which he was trying to buy a crucial bomb ingredient contacted the feds. Aldawsari faces a maximum life prison term and a quarter-million-dollar fine if he's convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Insulated Beverage Containers to Undergo Extra Security at Airports 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Travelers toting thermoses and insulated beverage containers through the nation's airports Friday might face heightened security measures, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

"The possible tactics terrorists might use include the concealment of explosives inside insulated beverage containers, so in the coming days, passengers flying within and to the U.S. may notice additional security measures related to insulated beverage containers," the TSA said in a statement released early Friday.

According to the TSA, while no specific threats have been reported, agents at airports have been trained to "detect a variety of threats, including the concealment of explosives in common items.

"Passengers traveling with insulated beverage containers can expect to see additional screening of these items using procedures currently in place, including X-ray screening, physical inspection and the use of explosives trace detection technology," read the statement.

The latest warning from the TSA follows a stronger one from the White House, which called for extra vigilant this holiday season, warning of a possible -- though unspecified -- terror threat from al Qaeda. The caution echoed a weeks' worth of warnings from law enforcement authorities.

"We remain vigilant to attempts by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to carry out cowardly attacks against innocent men, women and children, and we are working very closely with other governments to share all threat information immediately and to coordinate closely our counterterrorism and security activities," John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, said in a statement earlier this week.

Attorney General Eric Holder, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security also alerted the public to a possible attack, citing a year's worth of thwarted attempts, beginning with 2009's Christmas Day "underwear" plot. It was a year ago that a suspected al Qaeda operative tried to detonate explosives packed in his briefs, onboard a flight bound from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Director of National Intelligence Not Briefed on London Arrests Before Interview

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was caught off-guard Monday by a question on the widely-covered arrest of 12 men in an alleged terror plot in London. Wednesday, Clapper's spokeswoman admits it was because he had not been briefed on the arrests.

In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, taped Monday afternoon, Clapper was asked about the arrests, which had happened hours before and were featured on all of the network morning news broadcasts. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, who were also participating in the joint interview, were aware of the arrests.

"First of all, London," Sawyer began. "How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here? Director Clapper?"

"London?" Clapper said after a pause, before Brennan entered the conversation explaining the arrests.

Later in the interview, Sawyer returned to the subject.

"I was a little surprised you didn't know about London," Sawyer told Clapper.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't," he replied.

On Tuesday, Clapper's office had declined to say whether he knew about the specific disrupted plot, but issued a statement calling Sawyer's question "ambiguous." Wednesday, his office appears to have changed their position.

"Director Clapper had not yet been briefed on the arrests in the United Kingdom at the time of this interview taping," said ODNI spokeswoman Jamie Smith in a statement to ABC's Jake Tapper.

Smith explained that Clapper had been working on other matters during the day, following developments on the Korean Peninsula and issues surrounding the ratification of the START nuclear pact. He was not briefed on the London arrests, she said, because it was not centered in the homeland and required no action on his part.

Still, Smith acknowledged, that Clapper "should have been briefed on the arrests, and steps have been taken to ensure that he is in the future."

In an on-camera briefing at the White House Wednesday, Brennan strongly defended Clapper, calling him a "consummate" DNI.

"Should he have been briefed by his staff on these arrests? Yes," Brennan said before criticizing the media for what he called "breathless" coverage of the British arrests.

"I'm glad that Jim Clapper is not sitting in front of the TV 24 hours a day and monitoring what's coming out in the media," Brennan said. "As of that time, there was nothing that the DNI needed to do or to be engaged in that would have required him to set aside other pressing intelligence matters to be briefed on things that were being put out in the press."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Terrorist Threat Posted on Facebook Leads to Arrest

Photo Courtesy - Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Virginia resident, who authorities say chatted on Facebook about blowing up Washington, D.C. subway cars, has been arrested and charged with making threats across state lines.

The FBI alleges that Awais Younis, who was born in Afghanistan but now lives in Arlington, Virginia, made comments online about placing pipe bombs on crowded metro subway cars and under a manhole cover in Georgetown.

Authorities say when a friend responded to the Facebook comment by saying “You wouldn’t do that.”  Younis allegedly replied, “Watch me.”   The friend then contacted the FBI.

Investigators say on his Facebook page Younis, who is in his 20s, is seen posing with an AK-47 assault rifle outside a tent in Afghanistan.  The photo's caption is, “My family business.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Terror Suspect Invited to Lunch at Pentagon After 9/11

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A terror suspect, now believed to be hiding in Yemen, had lunch at the Pentagon just weeks after the 9/11 attacks, ABC News confirms.

Just weeks after Sept. 11, American-born radical cleric Anwar Aulaqi was invited to a private lunch at the Pentagon as part of an effort to reach out to the Muslim community.  When asked by ABC News if Aulaqi had actually attended the lunch, Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan said, "We believe that to be true."

"We believe it was hosted by a small group within (but not including) the Department of Defense General Counsel's staff," a Pentagon spokesman tells ABC News.

Days before, Aulaqi had been interviewed by the FBI about the hijackers. The 9/11 commission report later found:

"Another potentially significant San Diego contact for [9/11 hijackers] Hazmi and Mihdhar was Anwar Aulaqi, an imam at the Rabat mosque.  Born in New Mexico and thus a U.S. citizen, Aulaqi grew up in Yemen and studied in the United States on a Yemeni government scholarship.  We do not know how or when Hazmi and Mihdhar first met Aulaqi.  The operatives may even have met or at least talked to him the same day they first moved to San Diego.  Hazmi and Mihdhar reportedly respected Aulaqi as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him."

Aside from 9/11, Aulaqi has also been linked to the failed Christmas Day airline bombing and the Fort Hood shootings.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Four Convicted in Synagogue Bomb Plot

Photo Courtesy - RiverdaleTemple [dot] org(NEW YORK) -- A federal jury in Manhattan found four defendants guilty Monday of plotting to blow up a synagogue and a Jewish community center as well as plotting to use a shoulder fired missile to take down a military plane at a suburban New York airport.

The case centered on the evidence of an informant whose tactics had been criticized by defense lawyers as approaching entrapment. The informant was also criticized for allegedly leading the defendants down the path to jihad.

The jury deliberated for eight days before reaching Monday's verdict, and according to sources there was a sense of relief at the Department of Justice when the case was decided.

The jury heard taped conversations in which ringleader James Cromitie, 44, and three other men spoke extensively about their plans as the informant, Shahed Hussain -- posing as a representative of a Pakistan-based terrorist group -- recorded the discussions. Hussain had made hundreds of hours of recordings.

Cromitie's attorney argued during the trial that Hussain entrapped the defendants and that Hussain's testimony on the stand was filled with lies.

"The bottom line is when it comes to Hussain's testimony, it's worthless. It's garbage," lawyer Vincent Briccetti told the jury. "He lied to you."

The attacks were never carried out, but prosecutors argued that was not a mitigating factor.

"The defendants thought this was real -- real bombs, real missiles," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told the jury. He said that Cromitie was intent on committing a terrorist act and that the informant had not put that idea in his head.

Cromitie and the other defendants -- David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- were arrested on May 20, 2009. They were charged with conspiring to blow up the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center in the New York City borough of the Bronx. They are also accused of planning to fire surface-to-air-missiles at a New York military facility.

On the tapes, Cromitie can be heard telling Hussain, "I am a soldier in America, but not for America."

One juror in the case was dismissed after she told Judge Colleen McMahon that she was uncertain if she could ignore extraneous information she saw in her transcript binder during the third day of deliberations Oct. 8.

Sentencing was set for March 24, when the defendants could face up to life in prison.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Whistleblower: New Details in Suit Against Military Translator Company

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New details of allegations of fraud have emerged against a contracting firm that provides translators to the U.S. Army. The allegations were contained in a revised lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia by a former manager at the company who claims that his former employer, Mission Essential Personnel (MEP), is sending unqualified translators to Afghanistan.

Paul Funk, who oversaw the screening of Afghan linguists for MEP, had seen his previous complaint against MEP dismissed on September 23rd by Judge Leonie Brinkema for lack of specificity. However, Brinkema dismissed Funk's case without prejudice and gave him leave to refile his suit no later than Oct. 7.

In his amended complaint, Funk provides new specifics to back up his claim that MEP, which holds a contract worth up to $1.4 billion to supply interpreters to the U.S. Army, was giving passing grades on language exams to some applicants who failed to meet the Army's proficiency standards. As a result, Funk alleged in his suit, the Columbus, Ohio-based contractor shipped unqualified linguists overseas to be embedded with American troops.

In the new filing, Funk names dozens of translators who he says were hired after failing proficiency exams and sent to serve alongside American troops. Funk alleges the company knowingly hired unqualified translators because the moment they went on MEP's payroll, the company could then bill the United States government for the costs. Once the translators were "in the pipeline," the lawsuit alleges, "salary and other payments to these individuals would then be reimbursed, with a cost-plus payment, by the United States."

Funk's attorney Kit Pierson told ABC News he will attempt to get court approval to review MEP's internal records to further support Funk's claims.

"Today's amended complaint describes MEP's activities in painstaking detail," Pierson said. "We now plan to subpoena documents from MEP and look forward to a speedy trial."

In an earlier interview with ABC News, Funk said he had determined that more than one quarter of the translators working alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan failed language proficiency exams but were sent onto the battlefield anyway.

"I determined that someone -- and I didn't know [who] at that time -- was changing the grades from blanks or zeros to passing grades," said Funk. "Many who failed were marked as being passed."

MEP has emphatically denied Funk's claims, and executives with the company told ABC News they believe Funk is disgruntled and said he threatened to "wage war on the company" after he "resigned due to financial improprieties in his office." Company officials said the dismissal of Funk's earlier complaint offers ample support to their position that the claims are groundless.

"As expected, the plaintiff has refiled his case against MEP for the third time," MEP spokesman Sean Rushton said in an email to ABC News. "We have not had time to fully review the complaint. We look forward to addressing the allegations in the new complaint in an appropriate manner under the rules of the court."

Rushton added that the company is "dedicated to supporting America's servicemen and women. Our process for recruiting, vetting, preparing, placing, and managing linguists and other professionals is the best of its kind, employing multiple safeguards. The US Government has awarded MEP the highest ratings for its performance and increased fill orders for our linguists by 1,300 percent in three years."

Marc Peltier, MEP's chief operating officer, said in an interview with ABC News that he had "no reports from the field" of translators who could not communicate in Dari or Pashto. He said the company has received "100 percent outstanding" ratings from the Army and shared a copy of what he said was an internal company survey that showed 82 percent of its customers were satisfied with the performance of its translators. In a letter to ABC News, CEO Taylor said the company was founded to provide U.S. troops with "the highest level of assistance possible" and "has not just lived up to its goals, but in working with our troops in the field, represents a genuine success."

The newly filed complaint outlines in far greater detail Funk's description of how he believes the company allowed poorly skilled translators to be hired, and why.

The complaint describes specific instances where Funk alleges that prospective translators who had "submitted blank written examinations to determine [their language] proficiency had received passing grades." Funk said he repeatedly sounded alarms about the alleged deficiencies, including in one memo in which he allegedly wrote that "Written Testing appears to be compromised."

In the suit, Funk says he was asked to retest three applicants who had failed the exam.

"The explanation provided was that one of the three had not had a dictionary at the time of the examination," the revised complaint alleges. "When re-tested, each of the three individuals passed the written examination. Mr. Funk's Deputy Director, Idin Pirasteh, discovered – and reported to Mr. Funk – a 'cheat sheet' that had been used by one or all of these individuals for the re-examination. This cheat sheet contained written answers to the test questions."

Whistleblowers who file such suits stand to collect a portion of any monetary judgment, should the legal action succeed.

Funk was asked about the company's questions about his motives by the website TPM, and he dismissed them. "They tried to smear me at the very end, and I had nothing to do with any of the problems that they might have said or accused me of," he said, speaking by phone from Iraq, where he is now working for a different contractor.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Times Square Bomber Gets Life in Prison

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Marshals(NEW YORK) -- Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square on a crowded Saturday night, was sentenced to life in federal prison on Tuesday.

Shahzad said "Allahu Akbar" after hearing the sentence, and said he would "sacrifice a thousand lives for Allah."

"War with Muslims has just begun," said Shahzad.

Shahzad also said he was happy with "the deal" God had given him. "We have laws made by Allah. We don't need laws made by humans."

In handing down the sentence, Judge Mirian Cedarbaum said, "You are capable of education, and I do hope you spend time in prison thinking about whether the Koran gives you the right to kill innocent people."

Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to the failed May 1 attack, and admitted receiving terror training from the Pakistani Taliban. Two of the ten different terror and weapons charges to which he pleaded carry mandatory life sentences.

The 31-year-old naturalized American, who was born in Pakistan and lived in Connecticut, warned in June that further terror attacks were coming.

After Shahzad had pleaded guilty to the first charge, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Judge Cedarbaum said, "I gather you want to plead guilty to all [the charges.]

"Yes," said Shahzad, and then said he wanted to plead guilty and 100 times more," because he wanted the U.S. to know it will continue to suffer attacks if it does not leave Iraq and Afghanistan and stop drone strikes in Pakistan.

Calm, but clearly angry, and standing the whole time, Shahzad spent nearly an hour giving the judge a narrative of his failed bombing attempt, and how he changed from a financial analyst with an MBA to a would-be bomber and what he called "part of the answer" to the U.S. killing of Muslims. He also confirmed that he had placed the bomb in Times Square at its busiest in order to do the maximum damage.

Shahzad admitted driving a Nissan Pathfinder into midtown Manhattan on Saturday evening, May 1, when the city's theater district was packed with tourists. He abandoned the SUV, which was stuffed with fireworks, propane, gasoline and fertilizer, after trying to use the fireworks to ignite the vehicle.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


U.S. Plans Law Enforcement 'Surge' on Trains

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. authorities plan a law enforcement surge this week along Amtrak routes, an exercise called operation RailSafe.  The heads of the country's biggest mass transit systems were briefed on the possible terror threat, all part of what is being called an abundance of caution.

Amtrak is holding a high-security exercise on Friday in which uniformed officers will be a visible presence on national transit routes. RailSafe will include all the local police agencies along the Amtrak routes involved in the exercise. Amtrak's counterparts in Europe and Britain will also be holding an exercise called "Rail Action Day" on Friday, according to a senior Amtrak official in the security sector.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official said the exercise is "long-planned" and "is not connected in any way" to the terror threat in Europe.

The stepped-up security comes as the U.S. used drones Monday to attack a suspected center of the plot in Pakistan.

The target was one of the terror training camps in the Waziristan region, where U.S. officials say a contingent of German citizens of Afghan and Turkish descent have been preparing for jihad against Europe.

U.S. officials say some have already been dispatched, likely those with their faces obscured in a recently released propaganda tape.

However, Pakistani officials told ABC News that at least eight Germans, including the group's leader, known as Commander Fayaz, were killed today by CIA missiles launched from an unmanned aircraft. The suspected militants belonged to a group called Jehad al Islami.

The strike comes a day after the State Department issued a highly unusual travel advisory for Americans going to Europe because of the potential threat of Mumbai-style commando attacks on civilians, possibly by terrorists of German origin based in Waziristan. Authorities learned of the possible plot this summer from a German national who had been training for jihad and is being held by the U.S. in Afghanistan. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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