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Entries in Terror Plot (7)

Tuesday
Nov202012

Four Men Charged with Planning Attacks on Americans Overseas

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Federal authorities announced on Monday that four men from Southern California are in custody after being charged with attempting to kill Americans overseas.

Sohiel Omar Kabir, a naturalized citizen and former U.S. Air Force member, is being detained in his native Afghanistan while Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and Arifeen David Gojali are being held in Riverside, Calif.

According to the criminal complaint, Deleon, Santana and Gojali had plans to meet up with Kabir in Kabul this month in order to join al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

They are facing a long list of charges, including conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country; killing and attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States; and killing nationals of the United States.

It’s alleged that Kabir had introduced Deleon and Santana to commit “violent jihad” in 2010 and Gojali was recruited later.  Kabir has been overseas for the past year.

The plot was uncovered by the FBI through an informant.  Deleon, Santana and Gojali were arrested last Friday by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force without incident.

The defendants each face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

Feds: US Terrorist Took Out Murder Contract on Witnesses

A convicted member of a North Carolina cell of Islamic radicals, Hysen Sherifi,who planned to attack Quantico Marine Corps base in Virginia, has been accused of plotting to kill the witnesses who helped convict him. (ABC)(WASHINGTON) -- A man already convicted of taking part in a terror plot to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., has now been accused of plotting the beheading of key witnesses against him and his co-conspirators.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed this week, Hysen Sherifi tried to arrange for the witnesses to be murdered for $5,000 apiece by a hitman named "Treetop," but the go-betweens in the murder-for-hire scheme were actually federal informants.

Hysen Sherifi was convicted of providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to murder U.S. military personnel and firearms charges in October 11 for his role in the foiled Quantico plot. Three other men in his North Carolina-based terror cell pled guilty to terrorism charges in 2011, and three more defendants were found guilty at trial. Another defendant still awaits trial, while an eighth suspect remains at large.

Sherifi, 27, was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison on Jan.13. In an FBI affidavit unsealed this week, however, authorities claim that prior to Sherifi's sentencing he tried to take out a murder contract on key witnesses against him.

According to the affidavit, Sherifi confided in an informant that he wanted to kill three witnesses who testified against him and a prisoner he believed had stolen from him.

"[The Informant] contacted the FBI to advise that Hysen Sherifi had confided in him and requested his/her assistance for the purpose of hiring someone to kill several individuals. Three of the intended victims are witnesses who testified against him at his federal trial."

The affidavit alleges that Sherifi showed his brother's girlfriend, Nevine Aly Elshiekh, notes that he wanted passed on to another individual who was also an informant in the case.

Elshiekh allegedly passed the information on to the second informant, who claimed to be in contact with a hitman known only as "Treetop." During a Jan. 2, 2012, meeting the second informant allegedly showed Elshiekh a picture of one of the targets and the two discussed a $5,000 payment for the killings. "I got the picture from Treetop," the informant allegedly told Elshiekh, "and Treetop wants to make sure it's the right person to be killed."

On Jan. 8, 2012, Sherifi's brother Shkumbin Sherifi visited his brother at the New Hanover County jail. Two hours later, Shkumbin allegedly arranged a call with the second informant to meet him and get money to him. The court papers note that Shkumbin Sherifi allegedly brought the informant $4,250.

During the meeting the informant allegedly asked Shkumbin Sherifi, "You need to ask [Hysen] Sherifi which one he want [sic] killed. The black guy or Arab."

Shkumbin allegedly told the informant, "Okay, um does he, um, are you guys in touch?"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Four Elderly Terror Suspects Have Trouble Hearing Judge

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Four senior citizens accused of plotting terror attacks on the federal government appeared in court Wednesday in shackles and struggled to hear what the judge was saying.

The suspects, who all had gray or white hair and wore glasses, did not enter a plea. Instead they asked for more time to prepare for a bail hearing.

The men named in the charging documents, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., and Toccoa, Ga., residents Dan Roberts, 67, Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68, were all members of a fringe militia organization, according to investigators.

During their court appearance Wednesday, several of the defendants had trouble hearing the judge even though U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Susan Cole was using a microphone.

Despite their age, the defendants were shackled in court.

In court documents the FBI said the men referred to themselves as "the covert group," and met several times throughout the year to discuss killing federal employees with rifles, explosives and ricin, a dangerous toxin that can be extracted from castor bean seeds using acetone and lye.

An undercover agent recorded several of the meetings, including one in April where Adams said, "The first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings."

By April, Thomas was telling one of the FBI's confidential informants about the illegal weapons they wanted to buy, providing a long list of firearms, silencers and explosives. And in May, he began surveying buildings in Atlanta, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the IRS, as potential targets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Four Georgia Men Charged in Terror Plot

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Four senior citizens will appear in front of a federal judge in Georgia on Wednesday after telling undercover informants about plans to attack federal buildings with explosives and a biological toxin.

The men named in the charging documents, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., and Toccoa, Ga., residents Dan Roberts, 67, Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68, were all members of a fringe militia organization, according to investigators.

They called themselves "the covert group," and met several times throughout the year to discuss killing federal employees with rifles, explosives, and the dangerous toxin ricin.

An undercover agent recorded several of the meetings, including one in April where Adams allegedly said, "The first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings."

By April, Thomas was reportedly telling one of the FBI's confidential informants about the illegal equipment they wanted to buy, providing a long list including firearms, silencers and explosives. And in May, he allegedly began surveying buildings in Atlanta, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the IRS, as potential targets, according to authorities. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

US Says Iran-Tied Terror Plot in Washington, DC Disrupted

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a "significant terrorist act in the United States" tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News Tuesday.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C.

Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

The stunning allegations come against a backdrop of longstanding tensions between Iran and the United States and Saudi Arabia. In the last year, Saudi Arabia has attempted to build an anti-Iran alliance to push back against perceived aggression by Iran in the region.

The State Department has listed Iran as a "state sponsor" of terror since 1984. Officials in Argentina have said Iran was behind an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992.

The new case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a DEA informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.

The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents.

The DEA office in Houston brought in FBI agents as the international terror implications of the case became apparent.

The Iranian-American, identified by federal officials as Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, reportedly claimed he was being "directed by high ranking members of the Iranian government," including a cousin who was "a member of the Iranian army but did not wear a uniform," according to a person briefed on the details of the case. Counter-terrorism officials said they believe the cousin may be part of the special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds force.

U.S. officials said Arbabsiar met twice in July with the DEA informant in the northern Mexico city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, and negotiated a $1.5 million payment for the assassination of the Saudi ambassador. As a down payment, officials said Arbabsiar wired two payments of $49,960 on Aug. 1 and Aug. 9 to an FBI undercover bank account after he had returned to Iran.

Federal agents said the DEA and the FBI recorded a number of meetings and phone calls between the informant and Arbabsiar, some of them from Iran.

Officials said Arbabsiar flew from Iran through Frankfurt, Germany, to Mexico City Sept. 28 for a final planning session, but was refused entry to Mexico and put on a plane to New York, where he was arrested.

Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, expressed "utter disregard for collateral damage" in the planned bomb attacks in Washington, according to officials.

He also reportedly told the undercover DEA informant that his contacts in the Iranian government could provide "tons of opium" for the Mexican cartels, according to officials who have reviewed the case file.

Officials said Arbabsiar is now cooperating with prosecutors and federal agents in New York, where the case has been transferred.

Senior Justice Department officials in Washington are reported to still be closely reviewing the specific language to be used in any charging documents.

A spokesperson at the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., said she was unaware of the plot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep112011

Fevered Hunt for Potential Plotters Continues on 9/11 Anniversary

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attacks, the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement apparatus continued a feverish, around-the-clock effort to find evidence to corroborate an unfolding terror plot.

By late Saturday, none was in hand.  However, the picture authorities were working from had been fleshed out substantially since the intelligence from Afghanistan arrived Wednesday.

Authorities now believe, like several self-radicalized American jihadists before them, that the Sept. 11 anniversary plotters journey to jihad began in the U.S., took them to the Afghanistan-Pakistan region in July and had them, according to the CIA informant whose information is the hard bottom of the case, return to the U.S. on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1 to carry out an anniversary bomb plot.

So far, no new intelligence has come in to support or discount the informant's account coming in from overseas.  The process of elimination has been a grueling one for analysts and law officers working around the clock.

Since last Thursday, authorities have feverishly scrubbed communications and travel manifests using a series of computer search formulas to reduce the pool of possible candidates for investigation from several hundred names to a much narrower group, according to law enforcement and intelligence sources.

Now the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) has fanned out its resources -- which include those of numerous other agencies -- across the country to find, interview and eliminate people from the pool of potential suspects.

Here is how that process works according to authoritative sources who spoke to ABC News' Pierre Thomas:

The pool of names was culled from hundreds of men who flew into the U.S. from south Asia in August.  That list was developed by running names through all terror watchlists and intelligence files available to the U.S. government.

In sifting and narrowing the names, authorities also used a formula that included the ages of potential cell members -- the informant said they would be in their 30s or 40s -- date of travel, and multiple travel routes to and from the Afghan-Pakistan region.  From among that group, multiple authorities have told ABC News that two identities are of particular interest and appear possible members of the plot.

But whether the credible information that there is a plot is ultimately proven or disproved depends on whether an informant's information, gleaned secondhand from conversation in a house in Afghanistan, can be verified.

The specific travel time frame information comes from the same CIA informant who said three people were dispatched by al Qaeda to carry out a bomb plot in either New York or Washington.

Despite the secondhand nature of the source, the high quality of the information led authorities to deem the threat credible, if uncorroborated, and triggered the massive rapid police response in Washington and New York, and the all-hands intelligence community and law enforcement manhunt.

"What's striking about this particular information is its clarity," a senior official told ABC News.  "Usually intelligence comes in bits and pieces and officials have to connect dots.  Here, I'm told, there were no dots to connect, there was so much detail in one place at one time.  It was all laid out.  If it's a plot it is well-planned and there's an intention to go forward with it.  If it turns out not to be real then it's definitely not.  There is no middle ground."

As Americans begin to remember the 9/11 anniversary on Sunday, officials say they have no choice but to act as if the threat is real and the clock is ticking.

"Al Qaeda again is seeking to harm Americans and in particular to target New York and Washington," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York Friday.  "We are taking this threat seriously.  Federal, state and local authorities are taking all steps to address it."

Police and federal agents have run down stolen vehicles, stopped suspicious trucks, issued "Be On The Look Out's" (BOLOs) for persons suspected of harboring animosity that could be directed at ground zero or the president, on top of continuing the hunt for terror plotters.

The BOLOs were sent for subjects including a 2003 Afghanistan veteran believed armed with handgun and believed to have crossed the George Washington Bridge Saturday morning heading from New Jersey to New York.

That man, missing since Tuesday from his job, had been located in New Jersey by authorities a day earlier, and was the subject of a JTTF BOLO when his EZPass alerted police he had crossed the bridge.

Authorities have also investigated a stolen van on Long Island, a missing rental van near New York, possible stolen vans in Maryland, wiring boxes on bridges, packages and bags left in boroughs outside of Manhattan, airport security breaches at John F. Kennedy International Airport and suspicious packages at Dulles International Airport -- all seen since Friday night and all given extra scrutiny.

In the midst of the scramble Saturday, a Department of Homeland Security analyst sent out a bulletin that multiple sources in law enforcement say erroneously linked a man to the alleged anniversary plot.  That document was rapidly pulled back, but the JTTF in North Carolina continued to be besieged by calls.

"We found out it came from an overzealous DHS analyst.  Charlotte does have a case on him but he is not one of the three.  DHS is going to get spanked.  Charlotte is getting inundated with calls," one official told ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep092011

Alleged 9/11 Anniversary Plot: Possible Suspect May Be ID'd

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Officials may have the name of one of the suspected bomb plotters after a 24-hour intelligence manhunt, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

The hunt included an analysis of flight logs and other documents following a report from a CIA informant that three people were dispatched by al Qaeda to carry out a bomb plot in the United States, in either New York or Washington.

The intelligence from the informant, who is considered reliable by the CIA, led to the national state of high alert over the possible terror strike on the anniversary of 9/11, but that the informant's information itself may be secondhand, ABC News has learned.

Despite the secondhand nature of the source, the high quality of the information led authorities to deem the threat credible, if uncorroborated, and triggered the massive rapid police response in Washington and New York, and the all hands intelligence community and law enforcement manhunt.

"What's striking about this particular information is its clarity," a senior official told ABC News. "Usually intelligence comes in bits and pieces and officials have to connect dots. Here, I'm told, there were no dots to connect, there was so much detail in one place at one time. It was all laid out. If it's a plot it is well-planned and there's an intention to go forward with it. If it turns out not to be real then it's definitely not. There is no middle ground."

No significant new information has come in to authorities Friday that adds to the threat picture, according to administration, law enforcement and intelligence officials.

Still, with the anniversary less than 48 hours away, officials say they have no choice but to act as if the threat is real and the clock is ticking.

"Al Qaeda again is seeking to harm Americans and in particular to target New York and Washington," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York Friday. "We are taking this threat seriously. Federal, state and local authorities are taking all steps to address it."

It was only two days ago, on Wednesday in Pakistan, according to officials, that the CIA developed the information about a possible al Qaeda terror plot targeting the U.S.

Three men, including at least one and maybe two American citizens, had allegedly travelled to the U.S. in mid- August, from Pakistan through Dubai, assigned to attack New York or Washington with a vehicle bomb on Sept 10, 11 or 12.

Late Wednesday night, the intelligence was relayed to Washington and CIA headquarters.

Early Thursday, at the White House, the president and the vice president received the first of several briefings on the threat.

Around 7 pm. Thursday, as the president arrived to address Congress, the FBI and the CIA were in high gear.

"You use all the resources that we have, people are working 24/7 on this issue," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, who was among the members of Congress briefed on the alleged threat. "Any time you get a reliable source and you're attempting to corroborate it or confirm it, you use all the resources that we have. People are working 24/7 on this issue."

Late Thursday night, the FBI and Homeland Security issued a bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies detailing the threat, including explosives, small arms and poisons.

At first light Friday morning, police in New York set up roadblocks and traffic checks throughout the city. Trucks passed through a cordon of officers and cars with radiation monitors and other sensors, backing up traffic for miles. Heavily armed police and national guardsmen carried out a highly publicized drill at New York's Grand Central Station.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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