The Omaha Steaks God Bless America Memorial Day Special

Showing posts with label al Qaeda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label al Qaeda. Show all posts

Friday, March 06, 2015

Al Qaeda Operative, Abid Naseer, Convicted for Role in International Terrorism Plot Targeting Shopping Mall

Following a two-week trial, Abid Naseer, a Pakistani national who joined al-Qaeda and plotted to commit a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, was found guilty by a jury in Brooklyn federal court of providing material support to al-Qaeda, conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda, and conspiring to use a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence. The evidence at trial established that the defendant and his accomplices came within days of executing a plot to conduct an attack on a busy shopping mall located in the city center of Manchester, United Kingdom in April 2009. The planned attack, which also targeted the New York City subway system and a newspaper office in Copenhagen, Denmark, had been directed by and coordinated with senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. Naseer is the eighth defendant to face charges, and the fourth to be convicted, in Brooklyn federal court related to the al-Qaeda plot, which also involved Adis Medunjanin, Najibullah Zazi, and Zarein Ahmedzay, the three members of the cell that targeted New York City.

The verdicts were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).

“This al-Qaeda plot was intended by the group’s leaders to send a message to the United States and its allies,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Today’s verdict sends an even more powerful message in response: the United States will stop at nothing in order to hold those who plot to kill and maim on behalf of terrorist groups accountable for their grievous crimes.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which led the investigation and comprises a large number of federal, state, and local agencies from the region. She also sent her appreciation to the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation, New York, the U.S. Marshal Service, Brooklyn, and the law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom and Norway, including the Greater Manchester Police, the British Security Service, and the Norwegian Police Security Service, for their outstanding assistance with the case.

“Abid Naseer was part of an Al Qaeda conspiracy that targeted Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for terrorist attack,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “His conviction reflects our dedication to identifying and holding accountable those who seek to target the United States and its allies. I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this successful result.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez stated, “Naseer knowingly and willingly conspired with others to carry out a destructive plot on behalf of al-Qaeda. The wheels were set in motion, and he and his accomplices were prepared to execute their plan. Those who pledge allegiance to terrorists and terrorist organizations throughout the world will be brought to justice, and every effort will be made to protect Americans and our interests throughout the world. The FBI will continue to work with our local and international partners to mitigate the threat of global terrorism.”

“The Abid Naseer case demonstrates that terrorists who target the U.S. and its allies will be brought to justice, no matter where they are. This investigation involved leads from the streets of Manchester, England, to New York City, to Usama Bin Laden’s hidden lair in Pakistan. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District and the members of the N.Y. FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force for the work that led to this successful prosecution,” said Police Commissioner Bratton.

In approximately September 2008, al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan recruited Medunjanin, Zazi, and Ahmedzay, three friends from New York City, to conduct a suicide bombing attack in New York City. Those al-Qaeda leaders, including Adnan El-Shukrijumah and Saleh al-Somali, communicated with Zazi about the plot through an al-Qaeda facilitator named “Ahmad,” who was located in Peshawar, Pakistan. In early September 2009, after Medunjanin, Zazi, and Ahmedzay had selected the New York City subway system as their target, Zazi e-mailed with “Ahmad” in Pakistan about the proper ingredients for the main charge explosive, which included flour and oil. Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the plot on February 22, 2010; Ahmedzay pleaded guilty on April 23, 2010; and Medunjanin was convicted after trial on May 1, 2012.

The investigation by authorities in the United States and United Kingdom revealed that “Ahmad” had also been communicating with the defendant earlier in 2009. The evidence at trial demonstrated that the defendant and his Pakistani accomplices had been dispatched by al-Qaeda to the U.K. in 2006 in order to begin preparations for an attack in that country. The defendant and his co-conspirators entered the U.K. on student visas but then immediately dropped out of the university in which they had enrolled. The defendant, like Zazi, returned briefly to Peshawar in November 2008, at the same time Zazi and his co-conspirators were receiving weapons and explosives training from al-Qaeda in that region. After returning to the U.K., the defendant sent messages back and forth to the same e-mail account that “Ahmad” was also using to communicate with the American-based al-Qaeda cell on behalf of Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaeda’s then-head of external operations. In the messages, the defendant used coded language to refer to different types of explosives. At the culmination of the plot, in early April 2009, the defendant told “Ahmad” that he was planning a large “wedding” for numerous guests during the upcoming Easter weekend, and that “Ahmad”—whom he called “Sohaib”—should be ready. Notably, Zazi testified that Ahmad had instructed him to use the same code of “marriage” to refer to the planned attack on the New York City subway, and that Zazi e-mailed Ahmad that “the marriage is ready” just before he drove to New York in early September 2009 to conduct the attack.

On April 8, 2009, the defendant and several associates were arrested in the United Kingdom. In connection with these arrests, U.K. authorities conducted searches of the plotters’ homes as well as an Internet cafĂ© used by the defendant to send his messages to Ahmad, where they seized a large volume of electronic media. As demonstrated at trial, a forensic review of that electronic media revealed that the defendant had downloaded several jihadi nasheeds, or anthems, calling for “death in large numbers.” A document recovered from the raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011 contained a letter from Saleh al-Somali to Bin Laden, written on April 16, 2009, that discussed the defendant and his accomplices’ arrests in the U.K.

On January 30, 2012, three defendants were also convicted in a Norwegian court of plotting a similar terrorist attack in Denmark as part of the same overall multinational al-Qaeda conspiracy. During that trial, the United States made available to the Norwegian prosecutors three witnesses who also pleaded guilty to terrorism offenses in the Eastern District of New York: Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Bryant Neal Vinas. Zazi and Ahmedzay again testified in the trial against Naseer.

The defendant faces up to life imprisonment when he is sentenced by the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Al Quaeda Terrorism Defendant Pleads Guilty in Federal Court

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin and United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara announced that Adel Abdel Bary, aka “Adel Mohammed Abdul Almagid Abdel Bary,” aka “Abbas,” aka “Abu Dia,” aka “Adel” (“Bary”), pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to international terrorism charges in connection with Bary’s work on behalf of al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.  Bary was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom on Oct. 6, 2012.  Bary pleaded guilty to a three-count superseding information charging him with conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, conspiring to make a threat to kill, injure, intimidate, and damage and destroy property by means of an explosive, and making such a threat.  Following the defendant’s plea of guilty, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan asked for further information regarding the basis of the plea agreement which the parties will provide within a week.

According to the indictment on which Bary’s extradition was based, the superseding information to which he pled, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at today’s guilty plea:

In 1997 and 1998, Bary led the London cell of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (“EIJ”) organization.  EIJ, which was led for years by co-defendant Ayman al Zawahiri, was dedicated to the forceful overthrow of the Egyptian Government and to violent opposition of the United States, in part, for its support of the Government in Egypt.  By February 1998, EIJ had effectively merged with al Qaeda and EIJ joined with al Qaeda in targeting American civilians.  To that end, in February 1998, indicted co-defendant Usama Bin Laden and Zawahiri endorsed a purported fatwah under the banner of the “International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders.”  This fatwah stated that Muslims should kill Americans – including civilians – anywhere in the world where they can be found.  Then again, on Aug. 4, 1998, EIJ published a statement threatening to retaliate against America for its claimed involvement in the apprehension of EIJ members.  A copy of this statement was found in an office used by Bary and his London-based co-conspirators.

While in London, Bary pledged his commitment to pursue the goals of EIJ and to follow the orders of the leadership of the group.  Many of the leading members of EIJ became influential members of al Qaeda, including indicted co-defendants Ayman al Zawahiri and indicted co-defendant Muhammad Atef, both of whom later sat on the majlis al shura (or consultation council) of al Qaeda.  Zawahiri is now the declared leader of al Qaeda.

On Aug. 7, 1998, three days after EIJ published its threat to retaliate against America, al Qaeda operatives bombed the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killing 224 people.  Bary transmitted, via international telephone calls to the media, the contents of al Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings.  These claims of responsibility included threats of future terrorist attacks by al Qaeda and its allies, and were sent from London, England, to media organizations in France, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 8, 1998 – the day after the embassy bombings.

In August 1998, both before and after the bombings, Bary additionally arranged for messages to be transmitted from members of the media to his co-conspirators, including Bin Laden and Zawahiri, and conveyed messages from his co-conspirators, including Bin Laden and Zawahiri, to members of the media.  Bary also used an office in London, which he shared with co-conspirators, to store documents, including the claims of responsibility described above, as well as for other conduct related to the conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals.

*                *                *

In connection with his role in transmitting al Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Bary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to make a threat to kill, injure, intimidate, and damage and destroy property by means of an explosive, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison, and one count of making such a threat, which carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison.  In connection with his role in the conspiracy—led by Bin Laden and Zawahiri—to attack American targets around the world, Bary pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals, which carries a maximum term of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Two co-defendants, Khalid al Fawwaz, aka “Khaled Abdul Rahman Hamad al Fawwaz,” aka “Abu Omar,” aka “Hamad,” and Anas al Liby, aka “Nazih al Raghie,” aka “Anas al Sebai,” are scheduled to commence trial on Nov. 3, 2014, before Judge Kaplan.  The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The CIA tortured Al-Qaeda suspects "to the point of death"

The CIA tortured Al-Qaeda suspects "to the point of death" by drowning them in water-filled baths, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on Monday, ahead of the publication of a US Senate report on interrogation techniques.

The paper quoted one security source as saying the torture of at least two suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, went far beyond the waterboarding admitted by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"They weren't just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth," the paper quoted the source as saying, adding: "They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far."

A second source cited by the paper also spoke of the treatment meted out to Mohammed, who is in US military custody in Guantanamo Bay, as well as alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, who is also being held at the detention camp on Cuba.

"They got medieval on his ass, and far more so than people realise," the source, said to be familiar with the still-classified accounts of the torture, was quoted as saying.

An upcoming report by the US Senate based on a review of classified CIA documents would "deeply shock" the public because of its graphic portrayal of the extreme interrogation techniques used by the CIA, a third source said.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to be very close to Bin Laden with a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive.

This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His squadmates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors.

A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates' heroism and mutual support renders an experience that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marcos Alonso Zea, An American Citizen, Arrested for Attempting to Join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Conspiring to Commit Murder Overseas

A five-count indictment was unsealed in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Marcos Alonso Zea, also known as “Ali Zea,” an American citizen and resident of Brentwood, New York, with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, attempting to provide material support to terrorists, attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, also known as Ansar al-Sharia (AQAP/AAS), and obstruction and attempted obstruction of justice. Zea was arrested earlier this morning at his home on Long Island and is scheduled to be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division; George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).

As set forth in the indictment and other court filings, beginning in the fall of 2011, Zea conspired with others to travel overseas in order to wage violent jihad on the perceived enemies of Islam, which included the secular government in Yemen. In furtherance of the conspiracy, on January 4, 2012, Zea flew from John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in Queens, New York, to London, England, en route to Yemen in an attempt to join and fight alongside members of AQAP/AAS, a designated foreign terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks against the United States, including the attempted Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound passenger plane.

As set forth in the indictment and other court filings, Zea was intercepted by customs officials in the United Kingdom (UK) in transit to Yemen and returned to the United States. Despite being prevented from traveling to Yemen, Zea continued his participation in the terrorist conspiracy. Specifically, Zea encouraged and supported his co-conspirator, Justin Kaliebe, who also was plotting to travel to Yemen to fight jihad. In August 2012, in a covertly recorded conversation between Zea and Kaliebe, Zea bragged about his lies to UK authorities when he was detained, instructed Kaliebe regarding methods to evade electronic surveillance by law enforcement authorities, and discussed Kaliebe’s plans to fight jihad. On January 21, 2013, Kaliebe attempted to travel from New York to Yemen for the purpose of joining AQAP/AAS but was arrested at JFK by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the NYPD’s Intelligence Division. (Kaliebe subsequently pled guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and one count of attempting to provide material support to AQAP/AAS. Kaliebe is scheduled to be sentenced on December 6, 2013, by United States District Judge Arthur D. Spatt in United States District Court in Central Islip.) Several days before Kaliebe attempted to travel to Yemen to join AQAQ/AAS, Zea gave Kaliebe money to support his trip. During this meeting, which was covertly recorded, Zea stated, “I just hope, my story, my, the event that happened to me will help you guys move forward, inspire you.”

In April 2013, after learning that he was under investigation by the JTTF, Zea directed an associate to erase the hard drive on Zea’s home computer and provided the associate two additional hard drives that Zea had used previously, which he also requested be destroyed. Despite Zea’s efforts to thwart the investigation, the JTTF obtained the hard drives and conducted a forensic examination, which revealed an assortment of violent Islamic extremist materials. For example, the drives contained issues of Inspire magazine, an AQAP/AAS publication that promotes violent jihad, containing articles such as “Which is Better: Martyrdom or Victory?” “Why did I choose al Qaeda?” “What to Expect in Jihad?” and an interview with “Shaykh Abu Hurairah, The Military Commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” The electronic media also included a video, disseminated by the propaganda wing of al Qaeda in Iraq, depicting the detonation of an explosive device on a vehicle carrying western military personnel. In addition, investigators recovered a semi-automatic rifle that Zea had given to an acquaintance shortly before he departed for Yemen.

“Despite being born and raised in the United States, Zea allegedly betrayed his country and attempted to travel to Yemen in order to join a terrorist organization and commit murder,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch. “When that plan was thwarted, Zea continued to support terrorism by assisting his co-conspirator’s efforts to travel to Yemen to fight violent jihad. When the defendant sensed investigators from the JTTF closing in, he engaged in a desperate effort to cover his tracks by attempting to destroy evidence—a tactic that only confirmed his violent aims. This case clearly demonstrates how the FBI and the NYPD, along with their partners on the JTTF and overseas, work diligently and effectively to counter the efforts of al Qaeda’s affiliates and their supporters.” Ms. Lynch also expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI, NYPD, Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Nassau County Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department, the New York State Police, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department for their work on the investigation.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos stated, “Inspired by terrorist propaganda, Mr. Zea allegedly traveled abroad in 2012 in a vain attempt to reach Yemen, join al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and fight violent jihad. When his attempt failed, Zea turned to financing and inspiring another Long Island man’s commitment to global terror. And when Zea learned he was under investigation, he feverishly attempted to destroy the incriminating evidence.”

NYPD Commissioner Kelly stated, “Aspirants with lethal intent who seek terror training abroad are of paramount concern. Fortunately, like Kaliebe before him, Zea was stopped due to the close cooperation between the NYPD and FBI.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth D. DuCharme, John J. Durham, and Michael P. Canty, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Kelli Andrews of the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Sabirhan Hasanoff Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison for Providing Material Support to al Qaeda

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Sabirhan Hasanoff was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 18 years in prison for providing and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda associates in Yemen and elsewhere and for conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda over the course of nearly three years. Hasanoff, who was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in 2010 and transferred to United States custody, pled guilty in June 2012 to one count of providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda and one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda. He pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood, who also imposed this sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “Today’s sentence reflects the egregiousness of Sabirhan Hasanoff’s conduct. The defendant not only funneled equipment capable of being used for nefarious purposes and thousands of dollars to al Qaeda operatives abroad, he also travelled to U.S. soil to surveil a major New York landmark for a potential terrorist attack. We will not hesitate to continue, with our law enforcement partners, to pursue individuals engaged in similar behavior and do what we can to ensure they are brought to justice.”

According to various public filings and sworn statements made by the defendant during proceedings in Manhattan federal court:

From 2007 through late 2009, Hasanoff supported al Qaeda in a variety of ways. Hasanoff and his co-defendant, Wesam El-Hanafi, sent equipment, including remote-controlled devices capable of use in an explosives attack, to terrorist operatives abroad. In addition, Hasanoff and El-Hanafi together funneled approximately $67,000 to al Qaeda operatives overseas. Hasanoff and El-Hanafi collected some of this money from a third individual who resided in the United States. During this time, both defendants used aliases to disguise the source of their money when making cash donations to their terrorist contacts and made extensive plans for travel to engage in jihad in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In August 2008, Hasanoff entered the United States from abroad, travelled to New York City, and performed surveillance on the New York Stock Exchange—all on instructions from overseas terrorists who were considering the location for a possible attack. The information that Hasanoff gathered on the stock exchange was then sent to the terror operatives.

In addition to his prison term, Hasanoff, 37, a dual citizen of the United States and Australia who resided in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment fee and forfeiture in the amount of $70,000.

El-Hanafi pled guilty in June 2012 to one count of providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, and one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al Qaeda. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the New York-based Joint Terrorism Task Force—which principally consists of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives of the New York City Police Department. Mr. Bharara thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, the Kansas City-based JTTF, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri for their extraordinary assistance in this matter.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Cronan, Aimee Hector, Glen Kopp, Michael Lockard, and Brendan R. McGuire are in charge of the prosecution.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi Arrested by FBI's Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force on Charge of Supporting Terrorism Overseas

An alleged attempt by an Aurora, Illinois man to travel to Syria in order to join a jihadist militant group operating inside Syria led to his arrest Friday evening. The arrest was announced by Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Gary S. Shapiro, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody without incident at O’Hare International Airport by members of the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force as he attempted to board a flight destined for Istanbul, Turkey. He was charged in a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a felony offense. Tounisi appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin and was ordered held until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 23, 2013.

In making the announcement, Mr. Nelson stated that the investigation that culminated in Tounisi’s arrest began in 2012 and that there is no connection between this case and the events that occurred over the last several days in Boston.

The complaint states that Tounisi is a close friend of Adel Daoud, an individual arrested in September 2012 for attempting to detonate a bomb outside a Chicago bar and that Tounisi and Daoud appeared to share an interest in violent jihad. While Tounisi allegedly discussed attack techniques and targets prior to Daoud’s arrest, Tounisi did not participate in Daoud’s attempted attack.

According to the complaint, from January to April 2013, Tounisi conducted online research related to overseas travel and violent jihad, focusing specifically on Syria and the Jabhat al Nusrah terrorist group. Jabhat al Nusrah is listed by the U.S. Department of State as an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The complaint alleges that Tounisi searched online for information about travel from Chicago to Syria, obtained a new passport, and, beginning in late March 2013, made online contact with an individual Tounisi believed to be a recruiter for Jabhat al Nusrah. That individual was in fact an FBI employee acting in an online undercover capacity. The complaint further alleges that Tounisi and the undercover employee exchanged a series of e-mails in which Tounisi shared his plan to get to Syria by way of Turkey, as well as his willingness to die for the cause. During the exchanges, Tounisi also sought advice from the undercover employee on travel from Istanbul to the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which lies near the border of Turkey and Syria.

The complaint states that on April 10, Tounisi purchased an airline ticket for a flight from Chicago to Istanbul and on April 18, the undercover employee provided Tounisi with a bus ticket for travel from Istanbul to Gaziantep. Tounisi arrived at O’Hare International Airport’s international terminal Friday evening, and after passing through airport security, he was arrested.

If convicted of the charge filed against him, Tounisi faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

The JTTF is composed of special agents of the FBI, officers of the Chicago Police Department, and representatives from an additional 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The Justice Department’s National Security Division assisted in the investigation.

Mr. Nelson expressed his gratitude to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the significant support provided by its officers during the arrest of Tounisi.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Kings of Organized Crime Said to Support Al-Qaeda

Although they are organized, the new mob in town doesn't look like the old one.

The new faces of organized crime in Chicago, according to law enforcement officials, are not necessarily from the traditional Italian mob. "Organized crime is not limited to one sort of ethnic group, it's an equal opportunity corrupter," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Chicago's new kings of crime are more likely to hail from Eastern Europe, South America, Mexico or the Middle East- unlike their predecessors in the traditional Italian mob.

Their end game is the same: profits. They are making box loads of money- including cash seized in a recent Cook County raid.

Authorities say there are two primary schemes. The first is retail theft, but not large expensive items. The new mobs steal necessities such as bottled water- enough to fill a warehouse that was recently busted.

"Baby formula is always a hot product, razors, anything that everybody needs that is expensive...we have cases where they are bringing in tons and tons, literally tons of property and then shipping it in containers," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

Some stolen goods are sold in the US, and some are sent overseas- all undercutting legitimate Chicago merchants and driving up prices. The Assistant Cook County States Attorney, who leads a regional organized crime task force, says the loss of state sales tax hurts everyone. "In Illinois last year, approximately $77 million could have gone to firemen, policemen, hospitals, teacher," said David Williams, Cook County Organized Crime Task Force.

The second racket according to investigators is food stamp fraud. It involves loose networks of convenience stores that allow recipients of Illinois link cards to use them for cash. "It's not hard to cash in a link card, it's not hard... That's been going on forever but that's common in every neighborhood," said Eric Burns, Englewood resident.

In November, three suburban men were arrested and their South Side stores were shut down for allegedly taking kickbacks from cashing out link cards. "The store owner will swipe the card for a hundred dollars, as a ruse that they're purchasing groceries. They'll give the individual recipient $50 back and then keep $50 for their own profit& The government is the one that is funding the program, so these are our tax dollars that are flowing out of these stores for this fraud," said Williams.

In Al Capone's day, the flow was illegal liquor. From Tony Accardo and Sam Giancana through Joey the Clown Lombardo and current boss John DiFronzo, the traditional mob's rackets were labor union corruption, gambling and other lucrative public vices.

As a rule, victims were only those involved with the mob. This is not the case for the new kings of crime. "The ability of these groups to target some of our most vulnerable communities is something that we can't let stand," said Jack Blakey, CCSA chief of special prosecutions.

Fourty-six million Americans are on food stamps. For these new organized crime groups, that provides an almost endless cash stream.

Other rackets operated by the new kings of crime are vexing authorities: from pilfering ATMs to forgery and ID theft. With federal law enforcement focused on terrorism, Cook County prosecutors have taken the lead with their task force that now includes the Midwest.

There is a connection between terrorism and the new kings of crime. Authorities say some of their profits support Al-Qaeda.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Raja Lahrasib KhanPleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Funds to Support al Qaeda in Pakistan

A Chicago man, who personally provided hundreds of dollars to an alleged terrorist leader with whom he had met in his native Pakistan, pleaded guilty yesterday to attempting to provide additional funds to the same individual after learning he was working with al Qaeda. The defendant, Raja Lahrasib Khan, a Chicago taxi driver and native of Pakistan who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, resolving charges that have been pending since he was arrested in March 2010.

Khan, 58, of Chicago’s north side, never posed any imminent domestic danger, law enforcement officials said at the time of his arrest. He remains in federal custody while awaiting sentencing, which U.S. District Judge James Zagel scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 30, 2011.

Khan faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. His plea agreement calls for an agreed sentence of between five and eight years in prison, and it requires Khan to cooperate with the government in any matter in which he is called upon to assist through the termination of his sentence and any period of supervised release.

The guilty plea was announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI.

Khan, who was born and resided in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan before immigrating to the United States in the late 1970s, admitted that he met with Ilyas Kashmiri, a leader of the Kashmir independence movement, in Pakistan in the early to mid-2000s and again in 2008. At the time of the second meeting, Khan knew or had reason to believe that Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda, in addition to leading attacks against the Indian government in the Kashmir region. During their 2008 meeting, Kashmiri told Khan that Osama bin Laden was alive, healthy, and giving orders, and Khan gave Kashmiri approximately 20,000 Pakistani rupees (approximately $200 to $250), which he intended Kashmiri to use to support attacks against India.

On Nov. 23, 2009, Khan sent approximately 77,917 rupees (approximately $930) from Chicago to an individual in Pakistan, via Western Union, and then directed the individual by phone to give Kashmiri approximately 25,000 rupees (approximately $300). Although Khan intended the funds to be used by Kashmiri to support attacks against India, he was also aware that Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda.

In February and March 2010, Khan participated in several meetings with an undercover law enforcement agent who posed as someone interested in sending money to Kashmiri to purchase weapons and ammunition, but only if Kashmiri was working with al Qaeda, as well as sending individuals into Pakistan to receive military-style training so they could conduct attacks against U.S. forces and interests. On March 17, 2010, the undercover agent provided Khan with $1,000, which Khan agreed to provide to Kashmiri. Khan then gave the funds to his son, who was traveling from the United States to the United Kingdom (U.K.), intending to later retrieve the money from his son in the U.K. and subsequently provide it to Kashmiri in Pakistan.

On March 23, 2010, Khan’s son arrived at an airport in the U.K. and a search by U.K. law enforcement officials yielded seven of the ten $100 bills that the undercover agent had provided to Khan. After learning of his son’s detention, Khan attempted to end his involvement in the scheme to provide funds to Kashmiri by requesting an urgent meeting with another individual who was also present at Khan’s earlier meetings with the undercover agent. During their meeting, Khan demanded to return the undercover agent’s funds by providing $800 to this other individual.

The investigation was conducted by the Chicago FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, with particular assistance from the Chicago Police Department, the Illinois State Police and the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Veatch and Heather McShain and trial attorney Joseph Kaster, of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Al Qaeda and The Mob

Friends of ours: "Big Paul" Castellano, Gambino Crime Family, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Colombo Crime Family, Greg Scarpa Jr., Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, Joseph LaForte

After whacking "Big Paul" Castellano and taking control of the Gambino Family in 1985 John Gotti set up headquarters at The Ravenite Social Club - located on the ground floor of a five story brick building at 227 Mulberry St. in Little Italy. Over the next seven years, the FBI's New York Office (NYO) conducted an around the clock surveillance of the site: taking pictures of The Dapper Don in the street outside the club from a plant or "perch" across the street, bugging his phones and planting dozens of surveillance devices in the building owned by Gambino wiseguy Joseph "Joe The Cat" LaForte.

By 1997 "getting Gotti" became the "top investigative priority" of the NYO and the personal obsession of Special Agent Bruce Mouw who called the Gambino boss as "a stone cold killer." The investigation cost the Feds millions, but during three separate prosecutions in Federal Court "The Teflon Don" eluded conviction. It wasn't until Mouw and the FBI's Special Operations Group (SOG) were able to install mikes in the apartment of Netti Cirelli, who lived upstairs from the club, that they caught Gotti in the incriminating conversations with Sammy "The Bull" Gravano that finally brought him down in 1992. It was a victory that cemented the reputation of the FBI as the law enforcement agency that "always gets its man."

This story is very well known. What's not known -- and will be revealed in detail with the publication next week of my new book Triple Cross -- is that the same New York Office of the FBI - also known as the bin Laden "office of origin," blew an opportunity in the summer of 2001 - to stop the 9/11 "planes as missiles" plot dead in its tracks. How? by merely applying the same dogged surveillance techniques across the Hudson in Jersey City to an al Qaeda hot spot that one former FBI informant had called "a nest of vipers."

The address was 2828 Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City; the location of Sphinx Trading, a check cashing and mailbox store that does millions of dollars in wire transfers each year between New Jersey and the Middle East. Sphinx was incorporated on December 15th, 1987 by Waleed al Noor and Mohammed El-Attris, an Egyptian. The store was located only four doors down from the al-Salam mosque, presided over by blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (OAR). Rahman runs like a hot circuit cable through the epic story of FBI failures on the road to 9/11.

Convicted by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 1995 along with 9 other members of a "jihad army" for seditious conspiracy, OAR was the leader of the hyper-violent al Gamma'a Islamyah (Islamic Group) responsible for the Luxor Massacre in 1997. He was also spiritual head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) the terror group headed by Osama bin Laden's number two: Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri. Not only was the Sheikh's cell responsible for the first attack on the WTC in 1993, but the 1998 African Embassy bombings and the October, 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole were committed in his name. OAR was so important to the al Qaeda leadership that the infamous Crawford Texas, Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001 referenced a 1998 intelligence report of a plot by bin Laden to hijack planes to free him. A similar report was contained in a PDB to Bill Clinton in 1998. So the NYO "office of origin" had good reason to focus on the dingy gray three-story building at 2824 Kennedy Boulevard that also housed what the Feds called "The Jersey Jihad Office."

Paul Fredrick MenStyleOne of the most astonishing revelations in my five year investigation into the FBI's handling of the war on terror was that Bureau agents knew as early as 1991 that Sphinx Trading was the location of a mailbox used by El Sayyid Nosair. A Prozac popping Egyptian-born janitor, it was Nosair who spilled the first al Qaeda blood on U.S. soil on the night of November 5th, 1990 when he gunned down Rabbi Meier Kahane, founder of The Jewish Defense League. Nosair had been trained by the principal subject of Triple Cross: Ali A. Mohamed, an ex Egyptian Army Major who had by then succeeded in penetrating the CIA in Hamburg Germany in 1984. Then after slipping past a Watch List and entering the U.S. a year later, Mohamed enlisted in the U.S. Army where he reached the rank of E-5 and got himself assigned to the highly secure JFK Special Warfare Center (SWC) at Fort Bragg, N.C. -- the advanced training school for officers of The Green Berets and Delta Force. It was members of Mohamed's radical Egyptian Army unit who had gunned down Anwar Sadat in 1981 and his C.O. at Bragg likened the chances of an ex-Egyptian Army officer with that kind of pedigree ending up at the JFK SWC with winning the Powerball Lottery.

On weekends Mohamed would travel up to New York and stay with Nosair -bringing along TOP SECRET memos he'd stolen from the SWC including the location of all Special Operations units worldwide - a treasure trove of intel that made its way to the al Qaeda leadership. On four successive weekends in July, 1989, during the tenure of Bush 41, Ali's trainees drove out from the al Farooq Mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn (another OAR venue) to a shooting range in Calverton township on Long Island. There they spent hours firing AK-47's, handguns and other semi-automatic weapons. How do we know this? Because every weekend these "M.E.'s" or "Middle Eastern" men as they were known in Bureau speak were photographed by the Special Operations Group, the same unit that "Got Gotti" at the Ravenite Social Club.

Of the Ali Mohamed trainees photographed by the FBI half an hour above the Hamptons that hot July of '89, three were later convicted in the WTC bombing, Nosair, was convicted in the Kahane assassination and a third U.S. Black Muslim was convicted with the Blind Sheikh and Nosair in the plot to blow up the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan in 1995. Billed as the Day of Terror case, it was presided over by U.S. Attorneys Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald. As proof of their awareness that OAR's "jihad army" was an effective al Qaeda cell, Fitzie, as he was known, named 173 unindicted co-conspirators including Osama bin Laden, his brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, and Ali Mohamed - who by now was operating a sleeper cell in Silicon Valley. Also named on that list was Waleed al-Noor the co-incorporator of Sphinx Trading - proof that the Feds still had the Jersey City mailbox store on its radar.

What isn't known and will be revealed for the first time in Triple Cross was that Ali Mohamed had been acting as an FBI informant on the West Coast since 1992 - a year before the WTC bombing carried out by the same cell members he'd trained. More amazing, the revelation that in 1993 Ali had confessed to his hapless West Coast "control" agent John Zent that he was working for bin Laden and had helped set up al Qaeda training camps for jihadis in Khartoum. He'd also admitted that he'd provided al Qaeda members with anti-hijacking and intelligence training in Afghanistan.

If anyone in the bin Laden "office of origin" had been inclined to connect the dots, that single statement to a Special Agent in the San Francisco office should have set off alarm bells at 26 Federal Plaza - home of the FBI's NYO. But it didn't. Worse, when Mohamed was captured by alert Royal Canadian Mounted Police operatives in 1993 while attempting to smuggle al Qaeda terrorist into the U.S. from Vancouver, it was Special Agent Zent who vouched for Ali - effectively springing him from the custody of the Mounties.

After that, on the orders of Mohamed Atef, al Qaeda's military commander, Ali went to Nairobi where he took the pictures of the U.S. Embassy that bin Laden personally used to locate the suicide truck bomb that exploded five years later in August 1998. Along with simultaneous truck bombing in Tanzania 224 people died and 4,000 more were injured.

Using evidence from the SDNY court cases, interviews with current and retired Special Agents and documents from the FBI's own files, I prove in Triple Cross that Patrick Fitzgerald and Squad I-49 in the NYO could have prevented those bombings - not just by getting the truth from FBI informant Ali Mohamed, but by connecting him to Wadih El-Hage, one of the Kenya cell leaders. How would the Feds have done that? Easily.

They'd had wiretaps on El-Hage's Kenyan home since 1996. In August 1997, a year before the bombings, Special Agent Dan Coleman (of I-49) had searched El-Hage's house where he'd found Ali Mohamed's U.S. address and phone number. In fact, Fitzgerald himself had a face to face meeting with Mohamed in Sacramento, California in October 1997.

At that meeting Mohamed boldly told Fitzie that he "loved" bin Laden and didn't need a fatwa to attack the U.S. This "stone-cold" killer who had moved bin Laden and his entire al Qaeda entourage from Afghanistan to Khartoum in 1991 and trained the Saudi Billionaire's personal bodyguards in 1994 - then told Fitzgerald and other I-49 FBI agents including Jack Cloonan that he had dozens of al Qaeda sleepers that he could make operational on a moment's notice and that he himself could disappear at any time.

Then, After Mohamed walked out on him, Fitzgerald turned to Cloonan and declared that Ali was "the most dangerous man" he'd ever met and insisted, "We cannot let this man out on the street." But he did and ten months later in August, 1998 the bombs went off in Africa - delivered by another cell that Ali had helped train. It took Fitzgerald another month before he arrested Mohamed on September 10th bringing his 14 year terror spree to an end.

The immediate threat to the American people from Ali may have ended, but not his threat to the FBI and the Justice Department. You see, Ali, aka "Amiriki" or "Ali the American," was a one-man 9/11 Commission capable of ratting out the Feds on how he had eaten their lunch for years - how the two bin Laden "offices of origin" in the NYO and the SDNY where Fitzgerald was head of Organized Crime and terrorism - had been outgunned by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri dating back to that Calverton, L.I. surveillance in 1989. Fearful of what he would say if put on the stand and subjected to cross examination by defense lawyers in the upcoming Embassy bombing, Fitzgerald made sure that Ali was hidden away under a John Doe warrant. Finally, by October, 2000 Fitzie had cut a deal allowing the master spy to cop a plea and escape the death penalty.

In the end, Fitzgerald made his bones as the Justice Department's top al Qaeda buster by convicting El Hage and several other relatively minor bomb cell members. in U.S. vs. bin Laden in 2001. But the real "mastermind" of the Embassy bombings skated. Mohamed was allowed to slip into the security of custodial witness protection where he remains today - the greatest enigma of the war on terror.

All of this brings us full circle back to the big question: why should we care. What does it matter if an al Qaeda spy turned CIA asset, U.S. citizen, active duty Army sergeant and FBI informant was able to operate with virtual impunity for years, right under the noses of the best and the brightest in the FBI and DOJ?

Because Ali Mohamed was a metaphor for the dozens and dozens of counterterrorism failures by the NYO and SDNY on the road to 9/11 - while agents in the New York office like Bruce Mouw remained so obsessed with bringing down "The Dapper Don." Worse, at some point - I fix the date in 1996 - the evidence in Triple Cross shows that officials like Fitzgerald began suppressing evidence that might have proven embarrassing to the Bureau.

Much of it was contained in dozens of FBI 302 memos that can be examined by going to my website, www.peterlance.com. This treasure trove of intelligence was passed to the FBI, ironically, by a wiseguy name Greg Scarpa Jr. locked up in the cell next to WTC bomber and 9/11 plot mastermind Ramzi Yousef in the MCC - federal jail in Lower Manhattan. It was Yousef's uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohamed (KSM) who merely executed his nephew's "planes as missiles" plot after Ramzi's capture in 1995.

Among those 302's, a warning in December, 1996 of a plot by bin Laden (aka Bojinga) to hijack planes to free the blind Sheikh - the identical threat warning that was to appear in PDB's to Clinton in '98 and Bush 43 '01. Also, evidence of an active al Qaeda cell operating in New York City in 1996. But all of that intel got flushed by Patrick Fitzgerald and other DOJ officials in order to suppress a scandal in the NYO involved former Supervisory Special Agent R. Lindley DeVecchio. Lin or "the girlfriend" as he was called by Scarpa's father - a notorious Colombo Family killer - had been the target of a 1994 FBI internal affairs (OPR) investigation that threatened to derail the 60 remaining Colombo War cases in the (EDNY) Brooklyn. So, as I reported first in my last book COVER UP, Fitzgerald and other DOJ officials -- including current FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni - entered into an ends/means decision to discredit the younger Scarpa, bury the Yousef intel (falsely calling it a "hoax" and a "scam') and allowing DeVecchio to retire with a full pension.

They did this after he'd taken "the Fifth" and answered "I don't recall" more than 40 times after a grand of immunity - something that would have landed any other U.s. citizen in jail for contempt.

I'd told that tangled story of "The G-Man and The Hit Man" for the first time in Cover Up published in 2004. A year later, the deputy head of the Rackets Bureau in the Brooklyn D.A's office met with me. Later, armed with evidence supplied by forensic investigator Angela Clemente they empanelled a grand jury. On March 30th 2006 DeVecchio was indicted on four counts of second degree homicide stemming from his alleged "unholy alliance" with Scarpa Sr. But it was the desire by Federal officials in 1996 to bury the DeVecchio scandal and preserve those Colombo War cases that led to their ends/means decision to ignore all of that evidence from Ramzi Yousef to Greg Scarpa Jr. The belief that somehow the Mafia was more of a threat to New York than al Qaeda -- that caused the FBI to let their guard down on the bin Laden threat.

That's the only explanation I've been able to come up with to understand their stunning inability to keep an eye on Sphinx Trading.

There is now little doubt that if the Feds had devoted as much energy to a surveillance of Sphinx as they had to the Ravenite Social Club, they would have been in the middle of the 9/11 plot months before Black Tuesday. Because in July of 2001, Khalid al-Midhar and Salem al-Hazmi got their fake I.D.'s delivered to them in a mailbox at the identical location the FBI had been onto in the decade since El Sayyid Nosair had killed Meier Kahane. The man who supplied those fake ID's that allowed al-Midhar and al-Hazmi to board A.A. Flight #77 that hit the Pentagon, was none other than Mohammed El-Attriss the co-incorporator of Sphinx with Waleed al-Noor - whom Patrick Fitzgerald had put on the unindicted co-conspirators list along with bin Laden and Ali Mohamed in 1995.

How was it that Fitzgerald, the man Vanity Fair described as the bin Laden "brain," possessing "scary smart" intelligence, had not connected the dots and ordered the same kind of "perch" or "plant" to watch Sphinx that the Bureau had used against Gotti? Which "stone cold" killer was more a threat to the security of New York City? The Teflon Don or bin Laden's master spy who cut his deal without giving up those "sleepers" he'd told Fitzgerald about in October of 1997.

Here's an irony in a story pregnant with them:

Patrick Fitzgerald made his bones as a terror fighter by prosecuting U.S. vs. bin Laden, the trial of the African Embassy bombers that he and squad I-49 failed to stop. As a reward he was appointed U.S. Attorney in Chicago and got tapped as Special Prosecutor in the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. We now know that even after learning the identify of the Plame leak source -- Bush retainer Richard Armitage - in the early weeks of the investigation, Fitzgerald still subjected the New York Times and Time magazine to a barrage of subpoenas unseen since the McCarthy era - going so far as to force the jailing of ex-Times reporter Judith Miller for 85 days. Until now, Patrick Fitzgerald has been famous for two things: prosecuting al Qaeda members and chilling the press. With the publication of Triple Cross his failure to contain bin Laden's master spy will now be on the record. The book hits the stores on Tuesday, November 21st.

Thanks to Peter Lance

Crime Family Index