Entries in Terrorism (151)


Breivik Indicted in Norway Attacks

AFP/Gett​y Images(OSLO, Norway) -- Anders Behring Breivik was indicted Wednesday for terror acts in the killing of 77 people last year.

Breivik confessed to the July 22 attacks in which 244 were wounded. He initially planted a car bomb in Oslo and then drove to the island of Utoeya, where he shot a number of young people at a summer camp.

The 33-year-old said he committed the crimes to prevent a Muslim invasion in Europe. Breivik faces up to 21 years in prison, however, his lawyers argued that their client is mentally ill and should be placed in a psychiatric facility, reports BBC News. He will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Breivik is scheduled to go on trial April 16.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gunmen Kill 27 Iraqi Police Officers In Western City of Haditha

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Assailants gunned down 27 Iraqi police officers in an early morning wave of attacks Monday across the western city of Haditha.

The militants, some of whom reportedly donned military uniforms, initially kidnapped two senior officers as they left their homes before approaching an Iraqi army checkpoint, where the clashes began.

The kidnapped officers were later found dead, police said, according to BBC News.

Three militants were also killed in the fighting.

The BBC reported that Al Qaeda was being blamed for the attacks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ex-Senators Say Saudi Arabia May Be Linked to 9/11

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Two former senators who led inquiries into the 9/11 attacks have issued sworn statements that they believe the government of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the fight on terrorism, may have played a role in the terror attacks ten years ago.

"I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia," said former Senator Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat, in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Graham led a 2002 congressional probe of the attacks.

Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat who served on the 9/11 Commission, said in a separate affidavit that "significant questions remain unanswered" about the role of Saudi institutions. "Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued."

Families of the 9/11 victims released a statement praising Kerrey and Graham for their affidavits, which were filed in a New York federal court Friday to rebut claims by the Saudi government in recent court papers that the 9/11 Commission had "exonerated" it of any connection to 9/11.

"The families and survivors of the atrocities of 9/11 have not given up hope for justice. We are determined to expose the truth," said Beverly Burnett of Minnesota, mother of Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., who died on United flight 93 when it crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought hijackers for control of the plane. "The financiers and enablers of those who murdered our loved ones are still alive, well and capable of supporting terrorism. The trail back to them still points to Saudi Arabia."

Sen. Kerrey's affidavit said it was "incorrect" for the Saudis to claim that the 9/11 Commission had "exonerated" them. "Stated simply, the 9/11 Commission did not have the time, opportunity or resources to pursue all potentially relevant evidence on that important question, and the American public deserves a more comprehensive inquiry into the issue," wrote Kerrey.

The affidavits are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has been working its way through the federal courts since 2002. Though the U.S. Justice Department has joined the Saudis in trying to have lawsuits against the Saudis thrown out of court, an appellate court said late last year that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under some terrorism claims, meaning parts of the Saudi case may be reheard.

Lawyers for the Saudis have moved to have the affidavits disallowed. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. The Saudi embassy also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Saudis have always denied any connection to the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., were Saudi.

According to Sen. Graham, open questions include possible financial support of al Qaeda by Saudi charities, and the role of a Saudi resident of California who was in contact with both the hijackers and Saudi officials. "There was a direct line," wrote Graham, "between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia, and [a] Saudi government agent living in the United States, Omar al Bayoumi, provided direct assistance to September 11th hijackers Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar."

"Finally someone who knows some of the truth about 9/11 is standing up and saying, 'Wait a minute, we didn't give those guys the all clear' as Saudi Arabia has been saying for several years," said Sharon Premoli of Vermont, who was in the World Trade Center when it was struck. "Exonerated, I don't think so!"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


African Jihadi Group Al-Shabaab Joins Al Qaeda

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- They've made it official. Al Qaeda has solidified its reach into Africa as the Somalia-based terror organization al-Shabaab formally pledged allegiance to the followers of Osama bin Laden, according to a new video that recently surfaced online.

"I give you good news today that will make the faithful happy and the Crusaders cringe: al Shabaab in Somalia has joined al Qaeda," says al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the video. Zawahiri took over al Qaeda's leadership after U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011. The video also features an audio statement allegedly by al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Abu Zubeyr in which he pledges allegiance to Zawahiri.

"The entire world attests that America's days are over and her rule has gone and her minions in the land of Muslims -- their end has come," the man identified as Zubeyr says.

However there was little cringing to be found among U.S. officials who said Zawahiri's message was old news.

"Zawahiri's announcement just formalizes what everyone already knew: al-Shabaab is an affiliate of al Qaeda," a U.S. official told ABC News. "This doesn't change the fact that al Qaeda's core is still suffering and trying to remain relevant."

Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism advisor to the White House and now consultant to ABC News, agreed and called the new announcement, "probably nothing more than a public relations move" that, "doesn't change anything." However, Clarke said it still, "highlights what should always have been a source of concern."

Specifically, Clarke referred to al-Shabaab's ability to recruit American-born jihadists to join its ranks. The FBI estimates dozens of Americans have been lured to Somalia by the group and U.S. officials have recently said publicly they are concerned that the terrorist organization, using those citizens, could attack the homeland.

"Members of the group -- particularly a foreign fighter cadre that includes U.S. passport holders -- may also have aspirations to attack inside the United States," National Intelligence Director James Clapper said before a Senate hearing in late January. "However, we lack insight into concrete operational plans outside the horn of Africa."

Al-Shabaab, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2008, has been locked in a vicious battle over control over Somalia with government and regional forces for years. In addition to local acts of violence, al-Shabaab claimed credit for a dual bombing in Uganda in July 2010 that killed 76 people. The civilians there had been gathered to watch the World Cup soccer games.

In September the FBI warned that many of those Americans who have joined al-Shabaab, like the Alabama-raised rapping jihadi Omar Hammami, may have assumed leadership positions, "raising the possibility that they could help expand al-Shabaab's global reach."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Islamic Militants Confess to London Stock Exchange Bomb Plot

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Nine men whose family ties originate in either Bangladesh or Pakistan pled guilty Wednesday to charges related to their involvement in an al Qaeda-inspired conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism.  Four of the men, all British citizens, confessed their roles in a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange, according to The New York Times. The other five entered guilty pleas for lesser charges related to a larger terrorist conspiracy.

According to the Times, undercover counterterrorism officers found out the suspects' plan to bomb the London Stock Exchange by secretly monitoring their conversations and following them as they appeared to study popular tourist attractions in London -- namely the 440-foot ferris wheel called the London Eye. The Times reports Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the U.S. Embassy were also among the suspects' potential targets.

The men are expected to return to court for sentencing next week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Intel Head James Clapper on Greatest Threats in 2012

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The man in charge of all of America's intelligence gathering testified Tuesday before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. The following are excerpts from National Director of Intelligence James Clapper's prepared remarks as provided to ABC News.

On Iran: We Don't Know If They'll Go for The Bomb, 'Concerned' About Attack on U.S.

"We assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. Iran nevertheless is expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, which can be used for either civil or weapons purposes."

"Iran's technical advancement, particularly in uranium enrichment, strengthens our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons, making the central issue its political will to do so. These advancements contribute to our judgment that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon, if it so chooses. We judge Iran would likely choose missile delivery as its preferred method of delivering a nuclear weapon … Elite infighting has reached new levels, as the rift grows between Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad."

"The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States shows that some Iranian officials -- probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei -- have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime. We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas. Iran's willingness to sponsor future attacks in the United States or against our interests abroad probably will be shaped by Tehran's evaluation of the costs it bears for the plot against the ambassador as well as Iranian leaders' perceptions of U.S. threats against the regime."

On Terrorism: Al Qaeda 'Core' Weakening, Affiliates and Homegrown Terror Greater Threats

"The next two to three years will be a critical transition phase for the terrorist threat facing the United States, particularly from al Qaeda and like-minded groups … During this transition, we expect leadership of the movement to become more decentralized, with 'core' al Qaeda -- the Pakistan-based group formerly led by Osama bin Laden -- diminishing in operational importance; regional al Qaeda's affiliates planning and attempting terrorist attacks; multiple voices providing inspiration for the movement; and more vigorous debate about local versus global agendas."

"We do not assess that al Qaeda's new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, will change al Qaeda's strategic direction, but most al Qaeda members find Zawahiri's leadership style less compelling than bin Laden's image as a holy man and warrior and will not offer him the deference they gave bin Laden."

"We judge that al Qaeda's losses are so substantial and its operating environment so restricted that a new group of leaders, even if they could be found, would have difficulty integrating into the organization and compensating for mounting losses."

Despite this, the DNI's statement notes that al Qaeda regional affiliates "will remain committed to the group's ideology, and in terms of threats to U.S. interests will surpass the remnants of core al Qaeda in Pakistan."

"We judge al Qaeda operatives are balancing support for attacks in Pakistan with guidance to refocus the global jihad externally, against U.S. targets. Al Qaeda also will increasingly rely on ideological and operational alliances with Pakistani militant factions to accomplish its goals within Pakistan and to conduct transnational attacks. Pakistani military leaders have had limited success against al Qaeda operatives, other foreign fighters, and Pakistani militants who pose a threat to Islamabad."

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Although high-profile al Qaeda cleric and recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed, the intelligence chief notes in his testimony that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group to which Awlaki belonged, remains dangerous.

"We judge AQAP remains the node most likely to attempt transnational attacks. [Awlaki's] death probably reduces, at least temporarily, AQAP's ability to plan transnational attacks, but many of those responsible for implementing plots, including bomb makers, financiers, and facilitators, remain and could advance plots."

Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI)

"We assess that AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) will remain focused on overthrowing the Shia-led government in Baghdad in favor of a Sunni-led Islamic caliphate. It probably will attempt attacks primarily on local Iraqi targets, including government institutions, Iraqi Security Forces personnel, Shia civilians, and recalcitrant Sunnis, such as members of the Sons of Iraq, and will seek to rebuild support among the Sunni population. ... The Iraqi Government is positioned to keep violence near current levels through 2012, although periodic spikes are likely. Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are capable of planning and executing security operations, and Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have demonstrated they are capable of targeting remaining terrorists and insurgents."

Al Shabaab, Somalia

Clapper said the main issue concerning the al Qaeda-linked terror group al Shabaab in east Africa is with American-born fighters who have joined the group.

"Members of the group -- particularly a foreign fighter cadre that includes U.S. passport holders -- may also have aspirations to attack inside the United States. However, we lack insight into concrete operational plans outside the Horn of Africa."

Homegrown Threat

Clapper said that homegrown extremists may move to attack in the U.S. if America or the West engages in war in another Muslim nation. In his testimony Clapper notes that extremists may learn from past plots and averted attacks and disruptions.

On Afghanistan: Taliban Still Has 'Safe Haven' in Pakistan

Discussing the Taliban the intelligence chief said "its losses have come mainly in areas where ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) surge forces are concentrated. It remains resilient and capable of challenging U.S. and international goals and Taliban senior leaders continue to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan, which enables them to provide strategic direction to the insurgency and not fear for their safety. We assess al Qaeda's impact on the Afghanistan insurgency is limited."

"That said, al Qaeda is committed to the Afghan jihad, and the propaganda gains from participating in insurgent attacks outweigh their limited battlefield impact," he said. "In terms of security, we judge that the Afghan police and Army will continue to depend on ISAF support."

Clapper also notes that Afghans earned $1.8 billion from the drug trade last year.

On North Korea: Too Early to Judge New Leader, Two Nuclear Weapon Tests

"North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs pose a serious threat to the security environment in East Asia. Its export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance to Syria -- now ended -- illustrate the reach of the North's proliferation activities. We remain alert to the possibility that North Korea might again export nuclear technology."

"Kim Jong Un became North Korea's leader following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, on 17 December 2011. Although it is still early to assess the extent of his authority, senior regime leaders will probably remain cohesive at least in the near term to prevent instability and protect their interests."

Clapper said that the U.S. intelligence community believes North Korea has tested two nuclear devices.

On the Arab Spring: Turmoil Will 'Challenge' U.S. Influence, Terrorists Could Exploit Unrest

"The Arab world is in a period of turmoil and change that will challenge the ability of the United States to influence events in the Middle East. This turmoil is driven by forces that will shape Arab politics for years, including a large youth population; economic grievances associated with persistent unemployment, inequality, and corruption; increased popular participation and renewed hope in effecting political change; and a greater ability by opposition groups to mobilize nonviolent resistance on a large scale."

"Meanwhile, the forces propelling change are confronting ruling elites; sectarian, ethnic, and tribal divisions; lack of experience with democracy; dependence on natural resource wealth; and regional power rivalries …This new regional environment poses challenges for U.S. strategic partnerships in the Arab world. However, we judge that Arab leaders will continue to cooperate with the United States on regional security to help check Iran's regional ambitions, and some will seek economic assistance."

"The unrest potentially provides terrorists inspired by the global jihadist movement more operating space, as security services focus more on internal security and, in some cases, undergo transformations in make-up and orientation. Ongoing unrest most likely would exacerbate public frustration, erosion of state power, and economic woes -- conditions that al Qaeda would work to exploit. The ongoing turmoil probably will cause at least a temporary setback to CT (counter-terrorism) efforts and might prove a longer-term impediment, if successor governments view violent Sunni extremism as a less immediate threat than did previous regimes."

On the Cyber Threat to the U.S.: Governments Can't Keep Up with Technology

In his testimony, Clapper notes that cyber threats are likely to increase in the coming years.

"We currently face a cyber environment where emerging technologies are developed and implemented faster than governments can keep pace, as illustrated by the failed efforts at censoring social media during the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Hacker groups, such as Anonymous and Lulz Security (LulzSec), have conducted distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and website defacements against government and corporate interests they oppose. The well publicized intrusions into NASDAQ and International Monetary Fund (IMF) networks underscore the vulnerability of key sectors of the U.S. and global economy."

The intelligence chief also notes that computer-espionage is becoming a greater concern with foreign services targeting classified networks that may not be detected.

"We assess that many intrusions into U.S. networks are not being detected. Although most activity detected to date has been targeted against unclassified networks connected to the Internet, foreign cyber actors have also begun targeting classified networks."

On Drinking Water Resources: Shortages, Floods Will Hurt U.S. National Security

During the next 10 years, water problems will contribute to instability in states important to U.S. national security interests.

Water shortages, poor water quality, and floods are unlikely to result in state failure. However, water problems combined with poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions contribute to social disruptions that can result in state failure.

Now and for the foreseeable future, water shortages and pollution probably will negatively affect the economic performance of important U.S. trading partners.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Group Claims Responsibility for Baghdad Attacks

KHALIL AL-MURSHIDI/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- According to the SITE Intelligence Group, the Islamic State of Iraq, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, released a statement Tuesday claiming responsibility for last week’s coordinated attacks in Baghdad that killed 69 people.

Thursday's attacks included at least 15 bombs over a two-hour period and appeared to bear similarities to previous al Qaeda attacks targeting mostly Shiite neighborhoods.

The statement said the group "knows where and when to strike and the mujahideen will never stand with their hands tied while the pernicious Iranian project shows its ugly face."

It also described the attacks as a "series of special support the weak Sunnis in the prisons of the apostates and to retaliate for the captives who were executed by [the Shiite-led gov’t]."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nigeria Churches Rocked by Christmas Day Bombings

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(ABUJA, Nigeria) -- A pair of bomb attacks rocked Christmas Day church services in the central region of Nigeria, leaving at least 26 people dead, according to the BBC.

An estimated 25 people were killed in the first attack which struck a church in Madalla, not far from the Nigerian capital of Abuja. The initial number of fatalities was likely to rise, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency told the BBC.

Not long after the first attack, a second explosion near a church in Jos, northeast of the capital, killed at least one person.

Boko Haram, the same group that carried out attacks in Jos on Christmas Eve in 2010, reportedly claimed responsibility for at least one of Sunday’s bombings.

The office of White House spokesman Jay Carney issued the following statement Sunday condemning the attacks:

We condemn this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day.  We offer our sincere condolences to the Nigerian people and especially those who lost family and loved ones.  We have been in contact with Nigerian officials about what initially appear to be terrorist acts and pledge to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Terror Group Aims 'To Fulfill Oath' of Osama Bin Laden: Report

AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- A new Egypt-based terror group has announced itself online with the aim of "fulfilling the oath" of Osama bin Laden, according to jihadi monitors. The group, which calls itself Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula, posted its version of a mission statement in online jihadist web forums Tuesday, SITE Intelligence Group said.

"With this message we send you the good tidings of the birth of the group 'Ansar al-Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula,' and we pledge unto Allah the Great and Almighty to do our best to fight the corrupt regime and its henchmen among the Jews, the Americans, and those around them," the statement said, according to a report by The Long War Journal. The "regime" the group refers to may be the transitional military government in Egypt.

The group pledged an oath to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who was killed in May in a special operation in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs, and said that America "nor those who live in America will ever enjoy security as long as we don't live it in reality in Palestine..."

Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula reportedly called America the "great enemy of Islam" and blamed Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, for the Egyptian people's suffering.

The Egyptian army has been battling al Qaeda-inspired militants in the Sinai Peninsula for months. The overthrow of Mubarak's regime, a power shift supported by the Obama administration in the name of democracy, had long been a goal of al Qaeda's, but experts noted that the terror group was relatively silent at the beginning of the popular revolt there. Then, in February, al Qaeda's then-number two commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released an audio message in which he blasted Mubarak and showed his support for the anti-government movement.

Zawahiri, who took bin Laden's place as supreme leader of al Qaeda, is Egyptian by birth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


State Dept: No ‘Firm Evidence’ Libyan Anti-Aircraft Missiles Have Left Country

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Seeking to try to allay growing reports that Libya’s portable anti-aircraft weapons walked out of the country amid the chaos of the country’s NATO-supported civil war may not have been realized, a top U.S. State Department official claimed Monday.

“Thus far, we have not seen any firm evidence that they have left the country, but we are still obviously very concerned about it,” Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Andrew Schapiro, whose office has overseen efforts to track down and secure or destroy those weapons, told reporters.

Libya is believed to have stockpiled up to 20,000 of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons known as MANPADs since the 1970s. Some of the weapons have heat-seeking capabilities and could be used to take down a commercial airliner. After this year’s NATO-led bombing campaign many, perhaps thousands, were destroyed and others got loose, sparking fears that they could fall into the hands of terrorists.

Schapiro didn’t say whether they may have fallen into the wrong hands within Libya, but regional al Qaeda leaders have suggested they have benefited from the instability there by scooping up those and other deadly weapons.

The State Department has been working with Libyan authorities to secure the weapons and destroy any that are not needed for the country’s defense. The U.S. has already invested millions of dollars in the effort. Schapiro visited Libya earlier this month where he said that so far the State Department has secured nearly 5,000 of the weapons.

The State Department believes many thousands more may have been destroyed when NATO planes bombed Moammar Gadhafi’s weapons depots. Their experts are now going to those sites to try to catalogue how many were there. It’s also unclear how many Gadhafi may have used or how many others may no longer be operational after years in storage.

The rest are believed to be in the hands of militias who looted some of the weapons caches during and after the war.

“The key now is convincing those who hold onto these weapons to turn them in and take them out of circulation.  And we were working with the Libyan authorities on the best way to do that,” Schapiro told reporters, adding that they are also in touch with the militias.

The State Department on Monday released its 10th annual report entitled “To Walk the Earth in Safety” on its efforts to destroy and clear conventional weapons like MANPADs and land mines around the world.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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