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Entries in Terrorism (151)

Wednesday
May022012

Women in Secret Service Scandal Not Tied to Terrorism, Cartels

USSS(WASHINGTON) -- Investigators have found that nine of the Colombian women who were drinking and partying with Secret Service personnel last month in Colombia were paid for their services, Congressional sources tell ABC News. 

The Secret Service has now interviewed most of the women, who range in age from 20 to 39, and none were found to have any ties to terrorist organizations or drug cartels.

That information has allayed fears on Capitol Hill that the wild night of partying by Secret Service personnel in Colombia compromised the President’s safety, or national security.

The scandal unfolded when 175 Secret Service agents and officers traveled to Cartagena, Colombia last month to make advance preparations for President Obama’s trip to the Summit of the Americas.  The prostitution allegations became public when a Colombian woman at the Hotel Caribe complained to police that a Secret Service employee did not pay her the agreed-upon price for her services.  The police informed U.S. Embassy officials, and the seedy details of agents’ drinking heavily, visiting strip clubs, and bringing escorts back to the Hotel Caribe became an international scandal.

The Secret Service also provided Congressional investigators with more details of who exactly was involved with the escorts: two of the 12 employees were supervisors; three were snipers and another three were members of a Secret Service counter-assault team. Their careers ranged in length from two years to 22 years.  Nine of the 12 people involved took polygraph exams, but three refused – including the supervisory agent who had the original dispute over payment with the Colombian escort. Nine of the 12 involved have resigned or been fired by the Secret Service, two agents have been cleared, and one is appealing disciplinary action.

Last Friday, the Secret Service announced that all agents must complete ethics training before being eligible for foreign travel.

The new rules say:

  • “Patronization of non-reputable establishments is prohibited.
  • “Alcohol may not be consumed at the protectee hotel once the protective visit has begun.
  • “Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official counterparts, are prohibited in your hotel room.”
  • “Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on … assignment and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting for duty.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May012012

Seven Arrested in UK Suspected of Fundraising for Terrorism

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Seven individuals in Britain have been arrested on suspicion of funding terrorism.

Six men and one woman ranging from 30- to 49-years of age were taken into custody Tuesday morning at four addresses across London, Coventry and Cardiff, and are being held at a police station in London.

The arrests are part of an investigation into a network suspected of exporting the stimulant khat -- which is legal in Britain -- to the U.S., where it's classified as a controlled substance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

Officials Watch for Terrorists With Body Bombs on US-Bound Planes

Saudi fugitive Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is shown in this handout photo from the Saudi Interior Ministry of the most wanted terror suspects. (Saudi Interior Ministry/Landov)(WASHINGTON) -- With the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death looming, American and European authorities told ABC News Monday that they fear al Qaeda may soon try to explode U.S.-bound aircraft with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists.

As a result, security at several airports in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East has been substantially stepped up, with a focus on U.S. carriers.

Additional federal air marshals have also been shifted overseas in advance of the anniversary. A year ago Tuesday night, President Obama announced on live television that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. raid on a compound in Pakistan.

Medical experts say there is plenty of room in the stomach area of the body for surgically implanted explosives. "The surgeon would open the abdominal cavity and literally implant the explosive device in amongst the internal organs," explained Dr. Mark Melrose, a New York emergency medicine specialist.

For the last year, U.S. and European authorities have publicly warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, and its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, have been designing body bombs with no metal parts to get past airport security.

"We are treating the information seriously," John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, told ABC News in 2011.

Asiri placed a bomb inside the rectal cavity of his own brother for a suicide mission aimed at Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009. That bomb exploded prematurely, officials said, and the only casualty was Asiri's 23-year-old brother Abdullah. Asiri is also believed responsible for the "underwear bomb" with which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to take down Northwest flight 253 on Christmas 2009, and for the printer bombs in the failed cargo bomb plot of 2010.

In public, U.S. officials say there is no credible information of an impending attack. Department of Homeland Security spokesman Peter Boogaard released a statement Monday evening, saying, "We have no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the U.S. tied to the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death."

But earlier Monday, White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan called the al Qaeda group in Yemen the greatest threat to the U.S.

"AQAP continues to be al Qaeda's most active affiliate, and it continues to seek the opportunity to strike our homeland," said Brennan during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C.

Brennan said bin Laden admitted al Qaeda had lost its way, agreeing that "a large portion" of Muslims around the world "have lost their trust" in al Qaeda.

Confessing to "disaster after disaster" in al Qaeda plots, Brennan said, bin Laden urged leaders to flee to places "away from aircraft photography and bombardment."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

Al Qaeda ‘Shadow of Former Self’, US Counter-Terror Official Says

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ahead of the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, a top American counter-terrorism official said that the core of bin Laden’s terror organization, al Qaeda, is in shambles and is a “shadow of its former self,” but the fight continues.

“We’ve always been clear that the end of bin Laden would neither ark the end of al Qaeda, nor our resolve to destroy it,” White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said Monday. “When we assess the al Qaeda of 2012, I think it is fair to say that, as a result of our efforts, the United States is more secure and the American people are safer.”

Brennan, speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that documents recovered from the Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden — to be published online later this week — showed the terror leader was disheartened by “disaster after disaster” and was deeply concerned after several of al Qaeda’s top leaders were killed or captured.

“With its most skilled and experienced commanders being lost so quickly, al Qaeda has had trouble replacing them,” Brennan said. “In short, al Qaeda is losing badly. And bin Laden knew it.”

“Today, it is increasingly clear that — compared to 9/11 — the core al Qaeda leadership is a shadow of its former self,” he said. “For the first time since this fight began, we can look ahead and envision a world in which the al Qaeda core is simply no longer relevant,” he said.

However, Brennan said that though the core of al Qaeda has been weakened, the threat has not disappeared – the fight has just expanded to al Qaeda’s affiliates.

“Despite the great progress we’ve made against al Qaeda, it would be a mistake to believe this threat has passed,” he said. “Al Qaeda and its associated forces still have the intent to attack the United States.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

Danes Arrest Three Men Suspected of 'Preparing Terrorist Act'

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Danish intelligence officials arrested three men in their twenties suspected of "having been in the process of preparing a terrorist act," according to a statement from PET, the country's Security and Intelligence Service.

A 21-year-old Danish citizen who lives in Egypt and two Copenhagen residents -- a 22-year-old Jordanian and a 23-year-old Turk -- were picked up from two locations in Copenhagen and charged with illegal possession of automatic weapons.

Intelligence officials also searched several locations after the arrests, but a spokesman for Copenhagen police declined to provide any additional information. The three are scheduled to appear in court Saturday morning.

"The investigation will establish whether possible terror threats have been addressed and averted by the arrests," PET said in the statement.

Denmark has faced terror threats before, mostly linked to the publishing of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

Admitted American terrorist David Headley told a U.S. court that in addition to helping a Pakistani militant group plan the 2008 Mumbai massacre, he also scouted Jyllands-Posten's offices in Copenhagen for the possibility of an attack.

In May, a Chechen-born man was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Copenhagen for preparing a letter bomb believed to have been intended for the newspaper. In addition, four Swedish residents are currently on trial in Denmark for plotting a shooting spree on the newspaper.

Danish officials refused to disclose the target of those arrested Friday, or how close they came to executing an attack.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Osama Bin Laden Wanted 9/11 Follow-Up to Doom Economy, Terrorist Says

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A convicted terrorist said that shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Osama bin Laden told him that the next attack would strike a fatal blow to the American economy.

In a video testimony played in a New York court Monday, Saajid Badat, who was convicted in London of a December 2001 plot to blow up a U.S.-bound flight with a bomb in his shoes, recounted his meeting with the al Qaeda leader just after the 9/11 attacks.

"So he said the American economy is like a chain," Badat said. "If you break one -- one link of the chain, the whole economy will be brought down. So after [the] Sept. 11 attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down."

By "this operation," Badat was apparently referring to his own mission -- the destruction of an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami just three months after 9/11. Badat backed out of the plot at the last minute, but another convicted terrorist, Richard Reid, attempted to go through with it on Dec. 22, 2001. The explosives hidden in his shoes, however, did not ignite and Reid was arrested.

Badat's testimony came as part of the trial of Adis Medunjanin, who stands accused of plotting to attack New York's subway system with suicide bombs in 2009. The admitted ringleader of that plot, Najibullah Zazi, broke down in tears on the stand last week while testifying against his comrade.

When asked then by the prosecutor if he still considered Medunjanin a good friend, Zazi began to cry, and said, "I love him." Zazi's tears became sobs when he was asked if he believed Medunjanin intended to carry out the suicide bombings. Zazi hung his head, and after a short pause, whispered, "yes."

Officials previously told ABC News that documents recovered in the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden nearly a year ago showed that the terror leader grew increasingly frustrated with his organization's inability to pull off other another attack on the scale of 9/11.

After it was revealed that bin Laden plotted to kill President Barack Obama and then-military commander David Petraeus, one national security official said bin Laden "clearly had bold ambitions to kill as many innocent people as possible. But al Qaeda's capabilities did not match Bin Laden's intent. Leading up to and since bin Laden's death we know that al Qaeda's capacity to pull off those types of complex attacks has been greatly diminished, and that Bin Laden himself spent much of his time brooding and providing guidance that often fell on deaf ears."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

Five Men Arrested in England on Terrorism Charges

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Five men were taken into custody by British police near London on Tuesday "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," according to Scotland Yard.

The suspects, ranging in age from 21 to 30, were apprehended by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command at their homes in Luton.  Scotland Yard said the arrests were "part of a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation."

Authorities have obtained search warrants for each of the men's homes and are conducting thorough searches of the properties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr232012

US Embassy Warns of Terror Threat in Kenya

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Terrorists are believed to be in the final stage of planning an attack in Nairobi, Kenya. That's the new warning from the U.S. government, which is asking citizens there to be on full alert.  

Authorities say the potential attack is targeted at prominent government buildings and hotels frequented by foreigners.  

Since Kenya sent troops into neighboring Somalia last year to go after Al-Shabab militants, there have been several grenade attacks targeting mainly local Kenyans at bus stops, bars and restaurants.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr102012

Iran Claims Arrests of Israeli 'Terrorists'

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Iranian government claimed Tuesday that it had arrested members of an Israeli-backed "terror" network plotting assassinations and sabotage inside the country.

Iran's intelligence ministry announced via state-run media that it had disbanded a "large and sophisticated Israeli terror and sabotage network after months of operations" just as the network was planning fresh attacks.

The statement also said that the government's apprehension of the "devils led to the discovery of the Zionists' regional command center" in a third country.

Iran has blamed Israel, the UK and the U.S. for a series of assassinations of nuclear scientists and explosions and disruptions at missile sites that began in 2007.

Iran has also accused neighboring Azerbaijan of sheltering spies who are planning attacks inside Iran. Iranian state media quoted an unidentified government official saying that "heavy bombs, machine guns, hand guns" and telecommunication equipment were recovered during the arrests, and that some arrests involved firefights.

Iranian accounts also cited past arrests of alleged "CIA and Israeli spies," saying that Iranian intelligence had disrupted an "espionage network" with a dozen members in Iran and Lebanon with the help of Hezbollah in 2011. U.S. officials confirmed to ABC News in November 2011 that Iran and Hezbollah had "rolled up" two distinct CIA espionage networks.

Time magazine reported in March that Israel was scaling back covert operations inside Iran, including assassinations, sabotage and spy recruitment, because of concerns that its networks had been compromised. According to Time, security officials said the confession by Majid Jamali Fashi that he had assassinated nuclear scientist Massoud Ali Mohammad by motorcycle bomb in January 2010 was legitimate. Fashi, who has been sentenced to death, claimed that he was paid $120,000 by Mossad to carry out the hit.

Several of the scientists who were killed or wounded by unknown assailants in Iran were attacked by motorcyclists using so-called "sticky" magnetic bombs, or via bombs apparently placed inside motorcycles. In two incidents of apparent attempted retaliation, a motorcyclist placed a sticky bomb on an Israeli vehicle in India, and Iranian suspects were allegedly interrupted before they could mount an attack in Bangkok.

Azerbaijani authorities said they had disrupted a similar Iranian plot against Israeli, U.S. and Jewish targets inside Azerbaijan, and accused the suspects of links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The 22 Azerbaijani nationals arrested in the alleged conspiracy in March were originally accused of treason, but now reportedly face only drugs and weapons charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

Clinton: Lack of Water May Lead to Terrorism, Violence, Failed States

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a message for policy makers on World Water Day: Lack of access to clean water isn’t just an issue of health and sanitation, but national security. Clinton unveiled a new U.S. Intelligence report assessing the threat global water challenges pose to America and the world’s stability. She called the results “sobering.”

The unclassified “Global Water Security: Intelligence Community Assessment,” commissioned by the State Department, found that some of the world’s most unstable regions — North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia — will experience water problems over the next 10 years “that will risk instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States on important U.S. policy objectives.”

Secretary Clinton cited the example of Yemen, an important U.S. ally on the war or terror, as a country where access to water could lead to more instability.

“Hydrologists predict that many wells in Yemen will run dry in as little as 10 years,” said the secretary. “These threats are real and they do raise security concerns.”

Terrorism related to water insecurity is also a concern. The report says physical infrastructure, including dams, have been used as “convenient and high-publicity targets by extremists, terrorists and rogue states,” all factors in the most affected regions.

A senior intelligence official said that although actual wars breaking out over water resources are unlikely in the next 10 years, the chances of violent conflict breaking out within states and across borders will increase greatly over the next 20 years if steps aren’t taken now to help these regions manage what little water they have.

“Water problems when combined with poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions — contribute to social disruptions that can result in state failure,” stated the report.

At Thursday’s event Secretary Clinton announced a new program, the U.S. Water Partnership, focused on helping vulnerable nations find ways to better use the water they have, and manage diplomacy surrounding shared water sources. So far, the program has 28 partners coming from business, government, humanitarian organizations and universities who will offer advice and solutions at global meetings, and also on a new Web portal.

“It’s exciting that it’s not only about water,” said Secretary Clinton. “It is about security, peace, and prosperity as well.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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