Entries in Terrorist Attack (6)


Fort Hood Victims Demand Attack Be Deemed 'Terrorism'

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Survivors of the Fort Hood massacre released a new video this week calling on the government to classify the November 2009 shooting as a terrorist attack rather than "workplace violence," a change that would make them eligible for specific combat-related benefits.

In the video, uploaded on YouTube Wednesday, witnesses to the shooting, some of whom were wounded in the attack, voiced their frustration with the government's labeling of the attack in which 13 people died and 32 others were wounded in a shooting rampage allegedly carried out by a fellow soldier, Maj. Nidal Hasan. The FBI said Hasan had corresponded with a high-profile al Qaeda recruiter and discussed the merits of jihad months before the massacre.

"Looking at the red tape you've got to get through, we put the video together to try to raise awareness," one of the victims, Army Staff Sgt. Alonza Lunsford, told ABC News.

In the video, police officer Kimberly Munley, who was shot multiple times, says, "It was discovered, has been discovered, re-discovered that this was part of a terrorist activity."

"[The Fort Hood victims] were killed and wounded by a domestic enemy -- somebody who was there that day to kill soldiers, to prevent them from deploying," another victim, Army Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning says in the video. Manning was shot in the chest. "If that's not an act of war or an act of terrorism, I don't know what is."

The Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes, the organization that released the video, said in a statement that unless the government labels the attack terrorism, victims and their families will be "denied the recognition and benefits they are rightfully due," in particular eligibility for the Purple Heart Medal, along with which comes veterans' medical benefits and higher priority for veterans' disability compensation.

But Army spokesman George Wright told ABC News that "the victims who were allegedly killed at Fort Hood in November 2009 did not meet the criteria of the award of the Purple Heart as outlined in the Department of Defense Manual of Military Decorations and Awards."

The manual states that the Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are killed or wounded "in action against an enemy of the United States; as the result of an act of any hostile foreign force; or as the result of an international terrorist attack against the United States, provided the Secretary of the military department concerned recognizes the attack as an international terrorist attack."

As defined by U.S. law, a terrorist act must be "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents," and for it to be an international terrorist act, it must involve "citizens or the territory of more than one country." All of those killed and a majority of those wounded in the attack were either active duty or reserve military personnel.

Some of the victims in this week's video point to Hasan's online correspondence with American-born radical cleric and major al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki, who at the time was based in Yemen, as a reason the Fort Hood shooting should be treated as a terrorist attack. Before his death by drone strike in September 2011, some government officials considered al-Awlaki the greatest individual threat to America.

As ABC News reported in the weeks following the attack, Hasan exchanged at least 18 e-mail messages with al-Awlaki within a six month period between December 2008 and June 2009, in which he asked al-Awlaki questions including when jihad is appropriate and whether it is permissible if there are innocents killed in a suicide attack.

ABC News also reported that U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months before the Fort Hood shooting that Hasan was attempting to make contact with Awlaki, a fact that Coalition of Fort Hood Heroes, said should have raised red flags. The emails were monitored by the FBI, but at the time the bureau "did not assess this guy as a terrorism threat," according to a lengthy FBI review of the case.

The references to "workplace violence" in the video apparently refer to Department of Defense memos in which officials recommend the Department take steps to address workplace violence in response to the 2009 attack. In the Defense Department's final review of recommendations issued by an independent panel following the attack, published in August 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates highlighted workplace violence as an area in which the Defense Department would "strengthen its policies, programs and procedures."

Various official reports on the attack refer to it as a "shooting," "murder," and the result of "extremism," but not terrorism. In President Obama's lengthy remarks at a memorial for the dead days after the attack, he never uttered the words "terror" or "terrorism."

Last week, Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta saying they found it "inconceivable" that the Defense Department "continue[s] to label this attack 'workplace violence' in spite of all the evidence that clearly proves the Fort Hood shooting was an act of terror," and also asked that all those killed and wounded in the attack be given Purple Hearts.

Nidal Hasan stands accused of murdering 13 people in the attack on Fort Hood and will face a military trial. After a short controversy, last week the court ruled that Hasan must shave his beard before appearing for court martial to face the murder charges, in consistency with Army uniform rules. Hasan had said he grew it for religious reasons and forcing him to shave would violate the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Naval Commander Convicted of 9/11 Fraud -- A decorated retired naval officer who was honored for his heroic actions during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon was found guilty Monday of defrauding a 9/11 victims’ compensation fund.

Cmdr. Charles Coughlin of Severna Park, Maryland was found guilty of making a false claim in order to collect more than $300,000 from the fund.  Coughlin claimed he was injured by falling debris when he raced back into the Pentagon to help others.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal for his actions and the injuries he suffered that day.

Soon after, the 52-year-old Coughlin claimed he suffered constant pain in his neck, along with headaches, weakness and numbness in his left hand.  He also claimed he could no longer play basketball, work on homeowner projects or run long distance races.

Prosecutors say Coughlin ran in the New York City Marathon two months after the terrorist attack.  They also presented photographs of Coughlin playing lacrosse.

The verdict carries a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison, but prosecutors are expected to seek a sentence of three to four years when Coughlin is sentenced on Nov. 21.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fort Hood Bomb Plot Suspect Arrested with Al Qaeda Magazine

Ben Sklar/Getty Images(KILLEEN, Texas) -- When police searched the hotel room of the AWOL American soldier accused of planning a deadly bombing and shooting spree outside Fort Hood, Texas, between the firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials, senior law enforcement officials said they also picked up a possible clue to the soldier's motivation -- an article from a jihadi magazine produced by al Qaeda.

The officials told ABC News Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo -- who had been granted conscientious objector status over his Muslim faith --  had apparently stashed in the room an article from the first issue of al Qaeda's Inspire magazine called "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

In addition to the magazine, one senior U.S. official told ABC News Abdo had also mentioned the name of one of the most high profile leaders of the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), American-born Anwar al-Awlaki.

Abdo made his first appearance in court in Waco, Texas, on Friday where he was charged with the federal crime of possession of a non-registered firearm in addition to previous charges of possession of child pornography and going AWOL from his unit.

Al-Awlaki is considered by some U.S. security officials to be one of the most dangerous men in the world because of his ability to reach out through the Internet to so-called "lone wolf" jihadis who would attempt to carry out attacks on behalf of al Qaeda, but without any actual material support from the terror organization.  Al-Awlaki is believed to have inspired several terror plots in the U.S., from the deadly 2009 massacre at Fort Hood and the bungled Christmas Day airline bombing.

AQAP, a media-savvy affiliate of al Qaeda, has produced six issues of Inspire so far, each featuring praise for martyrs and instructional sections on firearms and explosives for the prospective terrorist.

Abdo, a Muslim soldier who's in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, attempted to leave the military in 2010 after protesting the U.S.'s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In August 2010, he told ABC News he should not have to participate in what he called an "unjust war".

"Any Muslim who knows his religion or maybe takes into account what his religion says can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the U.S. military," Abdo said then.

Days after the Army approved Pfc. Abdo's conscientious objector discharge, his release was put on hold and he was charged with having child pornography on his government-issued computer.  Military investigators had been looking at Abdo's computer files after he made "radical statements," law enforcement sources told ABC News.

After he was told he would face a court martial, Abdo went AWOL from Fort Campbell on July 4.  Though vocal in his protestations against the mission in the Middle East, Abdo did not make any public threats against the military.

But when he was discovered Wednesday, Abdo was apparently in the final planning stages of a deadly attack.  He was caught in part because a wary local gun store owner called police after Abdo visited the store to buy ammunition and gunpowder.  He was acting "suspicious," Guns Galore owner Greg Ebert told ABC News.

"There was clearly something wrong with him," Ebert said.  "We made a decision to call the police and fortunately it worked out."

After his arrest, Abdo admitted he planned to plant two bombs at a local restaurant frequented by Fort Hood soldiers and hoped to gun down any survivors of the dual blast, according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News.

According to the documents, military officials believe the incident "was likely isolated to the Fort Hood area and the suspect in custody, and that arrest of the suspect has mitigated any further threats related to this incident."

Abdo's former lawyer, James M. Branum, declined to comment for an ABC News report except to say on Thursday that he hasn't spoken with his client "in a long time."  Abdo now faces federal charges in connection with the alleged plot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Arrest Man Wanted in Colorado Mall Bombing Plot

Federal Bureau of Investigation(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Police have arrested the man who became the subject of a nationwide manhunt after he allegedly rigged two propane tanks and a pipe bomb to explode in a crowded Colorado shopping mall last week.

Records from the Federal Bureau of Prisons indicate Earl Albert Moore, 65, was released from federal prison days before planting the devices. He was serving a six-year sentence for bank robbery.

Moore was arrested Tuesday morning in Boulder.

Law enforcement officials have been tight-lipped about any motive Moore may have had in the attempted attack.

Police originally noted several similarities between this and the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, just over a mile away from the Southwest Plaza Mall, but the FBI now confirms that despite the coincidences the attacks shared in date and timing, there appears to be no connection.

Both attacks took place on the same date, April 20, and at approximately the same time of day. Both used propane tanks and pipe bombs placed in similar areas -- the high school cafeteria in 1999 and the mall food court last week.

The bombing attempt was discovered Wednesday afternoon when firefighters responded to a small fire at the Southwest Plaza Mall and found a pipe bomb and propane tanks in a hallway near the mall's food court. No one was injured and the devices did not explode.

The incident came on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, when two students opened fire and killed 12 students and one teacher on April 20, 1999.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Colorado Pipe Bomb: FBI Searches for Person of Interest

Federal Bureau of Investigation(LITTLETON, Colo.) -- Authorities have identified a person of interest in connection with the discovery of a pipe bomb and propane tanks after a fire at a Littleton, Colo., mall on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

The suspicious devices were found Wednesday afternoon at the Southwest Plaza Mall after firefighters responded to a small blaze in a hallway near the mall's food court. No one was injured and the devices did not explode.

Late Wednesday night, FBI and law enforcement officials released a photo of a person of interest who was spotted on mall security cameras. The person of interest is described as a white male with a grey hair with a silver mustache. He was last wearing a dark cap, stripped shirt, blue jeans and dark shoes. In the surveillance photos, the man is seen holding a white plastic shopping bag.

Jacki Kelley with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office said the man "is nothing more than a person of interest."

"We don't know whether he's somebody we need to look at as a suspect," Kelley said.

The incident comes on the 12th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, during which two students opened fire and killed 12 students and one teacher on April 20, 1999.

The two teens, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, committed suicide after the massacre. They had also left pipe bombs in the school but the majority of them did not explode.

It's unclear whether Wednesday's incident is connected to the shooting anniversary but the mall is located near the high school.

"We're not ignoring that. The date is significant to Colorado's history. But it's not something we're dismissing at this time," said FBI spokesman Dave Joly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Name Suspect in California Synagogue Blast

Santa Monica Police Department(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- Police have identified a suspect in a blast outside a synagogue and community center Thursday that was originally believed to have been an industrial accident. Police now say the explosion was caused by an intentionally-placed homemade explosive.

Ron Hirsch, 60, also known as Israel Fisher, is thought to be behind the Thursday morning explosion that sent a metal pipe encased in concrete through the roof of a home next door to Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica. No one was injured in the attack.

Police refer to Hirsch as a transient. He is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 207 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

Hirsh faces numerous charges including possession of a destructive device.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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