Search for new executive director of Center on Law and Security begins, as Karen Greenberg steps down

Karen Payday Loans Greenberg, executive director of NYU Law’s Center on Law and Security (CLS), announced she is leaving to pursue other career opportunities. Greenberg’s tenure as executive director began with the founding of the Center in 2003.  Under her stewardship, CLS has focused on a broad range of issues concerning civil rights, national security, and foreign policy that arose in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. CLS quickly drew the attention of policymakers, law enforcement officials, journalists and academics, and it has attracted an impressive list of Fellows, including Michael Sheehan, former deputy commissioner of counterterorrism at the NYPD, author Lawrence Wright, who won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower: Al Queda and the Road to 9/11, and Baltasar Garzón, an investigating judge for Spain’s National Court, to name a few.  The CLS’s annual retreats at NYU’s La Pietra in Florence have drawn principal players in both law enforcement and government from the United States and the European Union to discuss possible solutions to some of the most challenging issues of our time.

“Karen has done a spectacular job running CLS and leaves big shoes to fill,” said Dean Richard Revesz. “As we reach the tenth anniversary of September 11, the issues CLS was created to study remain as relevant as ever, and I am confident that it will continue to play a leading role in its field.”  The search committee for a new director will be composed of the Center’s four faculty directors, David Golove, Hiller Family Foundation Professor of Law, Stephen Holmes, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, Richard Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, and Samuel Rascoff, Associate Professor of Law, as well as Dean Revesz.  “With Osama bin Laden dead, U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, and a wave of political upheaval sweeping North Africa and the Middle East,” Golove said, “this is an opportune time to bring new leadership to CLS and sharpen its focus for the coming decade.”

Today’s Terrorism News

Today’s Terrorism News post will be the last one for the summer. Along with the staff here at the Center on Law and Security, and with particular thanks to The Soufan Group for its generous support and to Carolyn O’Hara for her superb work, I wish you all a wonderful August!
- Karen Greenberg, Exec. Director, Center on Law and Security

In Association with The Soufan Group

Treasury Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda

The United States formally accused Iran of aiding al Qaeda Thursday, alleging that operatives of the terror group “use Iranian soil as a transit point for moving money, arms and fighters to its bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The allegations came as the Treasury Department placed six suspected al Qaeda operatives from Iran, Kuwait, Qatar and Pakistan under sanction.

Regarding the question of why Iran’s Shiite regime would allegedly work with the predominantly Sunni al Qaeda, “Treasury officials asserted that the Iranian government had entered into an agreement” with al Qaeda operatives, and that Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a suspected al Qaeda facilitator from Syria, is believed to be living in Iran, according to the New York Times. U.S. officials told the WSJ that they believe Iran’s motivation for aiding al Qaeda is focused on “ridding the Middle East and Central Asia of U.S. forces.”

No Iranian officials were named in the Treasury’s action, which prevents Americans from participating in financial and commercial dealings with the six men under sanction. A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations called the allegations “baseless.”
U.S. Sees Iranian, al Qaeda Alliance (WSJ)
Treasury Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda (NYT)
U.S. Accuses Iran of Aiding al Qaeda (WaPo)
U.S.: Iran Has ‘Secret Deal’ with al Qaeda (AP via Time)
Editorial: Al Qaeda in Iran (WSJ)

An AWOL Army private who was arrested Wednesday near Fort Hood planned to attack the base with bombs and gun down military personnel there, according to reports. Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old from Texas, was arrested in a motel in Killeen, Texas, not far from Fort Hood, after “his purchase of gunpowder at a local gun store aroused employees’ suspicion,” the LA Times reports. Fort Hood is the location of a November 2009 shooting spree that left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan has been charged in that attack and faces court martial.

Police reportedly found a number of suspicious items in Abdo’s possession upon his arrest, including “a military uniform with Fort Hood patches, a pistol, shotgun shells and an article on ‘how to make a bomb in your kitchen’ from the English-language Qaeda magazine Inspire,” according to the New York Times. “He also had more than one wall clock, a cellphone, duct tape and a shopping list for what appeared to be explosive components.”

Abdo reportedly went AWOL in early July from Ft. Campbell in Kentucky. In May, Abdo, who said his Muslim faith would not allow him to deploy to Afghanistan, was granted conscientious objector status by the Army. “But a week later, the Army put the resulting discharge on hold after charging him with possession of child pornography and beginning court-martial proceedings against him,” according to the LAT.
Army Soldier Suspected of Planning Ft. Hood Attack (LAT)
AWOL Private Held Near Fort Hood in Alleged Plot to Kill Soldiers (NYT)
Army: AWOL Soldier Was Planning Fort Hood Attack (NPR)
Official: Soldier Said He Wanted to Attack Fort Hood Troops (CNN)
Soldier’s Arrest Revives Fear at Fort Hood (NYT’s The Lede)

Michael Leiter, who recently stepped down as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday that al Qaeda in Pakistan remains a threat to the United States, pushing back against recent reports citing anonymous U.S. officials that al Qaeda’s core is on the brink of defeat. Leiter said those assessments lack “accuracy and precision,” according to the New York Times.

Leiter said that while al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan is “on the ropes…the core organization is still there and could launch some attacks.” Pakistan, he continued, “remains a huge problem.” He also weighed in on concerns that younger analysts and counterterrorism officers at the CIA have been pushed into high-octane overseas missions and posts and could find themselves bored when they return to do still-vital work back at Langley. Leiter expressed concern that many of them would think, “[s]uddenly you find yourself at a desk in Washington working in a pretty big bureaucracy and you say: “This what I’m stuck with for another 30 years? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Ex-Counterterrorism Aide Warns Against Complacency on al Qaeda (NYT)

At the same conference, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that he believes drones are not strategically effective, reports Wired’s Danger Room. “If the drones stopped flying tomorrow, Blair told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum, ‘it’s not going to lower the threat to the U.S.’ Al-Qaida and its allies have proven ‘it can sustain its level of resistance to an air-only campaign,’ he said.”
Former Intel Chief: Call Off the Drone War (And Maybe the Whole War on Terror (Wired’s Danger Room)
Former Officials: Al Qaeda Still Likely to Use WMD (AP)

The Taliban launched an “audacious surprise” attack Thursday, sending “at least” seven suicide bombers and gunmen into the capital of Oruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan on a mission to kill the provincial governor and a regional strongman, according to the New York Times. Twenty-one people were killed in the bombings and gun battles that followed, though both of the reported targets survived. Women and children reportedly accounted for half of the dead.

The LA Times says the attack “underscore[s] deteriorating security conditions” in Afghanistan’s south. This week, the mayor of Kandahar was killed by a suicide bomber at his office. “Last week, a former governor of Oruzgan who was a senior aide to Karzai was shot dead at his Kabul home,” and prior to that, President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, an influential powerbroker, was killed in Kandahar.
Suicide Bombers Attack Afghan Provincial Capital (NYT)
Suicide Bombers, Gunmen Attack Afghan Provincial Capital (LAT)
Taliban Attack Hamid Karzai Ally in Southern Afghanistan (Guardian)
Taliban Storm Provincial Capital (WSJ)

27 with Terrorist Links Held FAA Licenses, Report Says (NYT)
Republican Congressmen Work to Bring Back 9/11 Commission (Fox News)
Bill Would Force Intel Chief to Renounce ‘Secret Patriot Act’ (Wired’s Danger Room)
An Un-Americans Response to the Oslo Attack (Salon’s Glenn Greenwald)
Op-Chart: States of Conflict (NYT: Ian Livingston and Michael O’Hanlon)

Drones in Pakistan: Out of the Blue (The Economist)
Pakistan’s Military Accused of Escalating Draconian Campaign in Balochistan (Guardian)
Editorial: Holding Pakistan to Account (NYT)
EU Says ‘Lone-Wolf Terrorism’ May Need More Government Attention (Bloomberg)
Norway’s ‘Lone-Wolf’ Attacks Stir Angst in Europe (AP via Houston Chronicle)
Twin Payday Loans Blasts in Tikrit Leave 12 Dead (NYT)
Blast at U.S. Embassy in Georgia Tied to Russian Officer (NYT)
Counterradicalization Lessons from the United Kingdom (Roll Call)

Today’s Terrorism News

In Association with The Soufan Group

At Radicalization Hearing, Rep. King Says al Shabab Poses Threat

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) held a third congressional hearing on Islamic radicalization in the United States Wednesday, this one focused on the threat of the Somali terror group al Shabab and its recruitment of Somali-Americans, largely around the Minneapolis area. “With a large group of Muslim-Americans willing to die as ‘martyrs’ and a strong operational partnership with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Yemen, al-Shabab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland,” King said in his opening remarks, according to the WSJ. Continue reading

Today’s Terrorism News

In Association with The Soufan Group

Four Indicted for Drug Trafficking to Benefit Terrorism

Federal prosecutors in New York unsealed indictments Tuesday against four men they say conspired to sell drugs and buy weapons for Hezbollah and the Taliban in two undercover overseas stings by U.S. law enforcement. The charges, prosecutors say, demonstrate the “growing nexus” between terrorism funding and drug trafficking. “Both [sets of defendants] were prepared to traffic in terrorism, not just drugs,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading

Today’s Terrorism News

In Association with The Soufan Group

In Arkansas, Man Accused of Killing Soldier Strikes Plea Deal

A man on trial for shooting two U.S. soldiers, one of whom was killed, outside of a military recruiting station in 2009 reached a plea deal with prosecutors on Monday to avoid the death penalty. The trial of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly Carlos Bledsoe, had begun last week, but he pleaded guilty in a Little Rock, Arkansas, courtroom on Monday. He has said the shootings were justified by Islam and were in retaliation for actions against Muslims by U.S. soldiers overseas. The judge in the case sentenced Muhammad to “life in prison without parole, plus 11 more life sentences and an additional 180 years in prison,” according to the AP. Continue reading

Today’s Terrorism News

In Association with The Soufan Group

93 Dead in Twin Attacks in Norway; Suspect to Appear in Court

The suspect accused of killing 93 people in twin terror attacks in Norway on Friday is due in an Oslo courtroom Monday, where reports suggest more could be revealed about his motives in Norway’s deadliest day since World War II. Nearly 100 people were also injured in the attacks; four remain missing. Continue reading

Today’s Terrorism News

In Association with The Soufan Group

Doubts Over Death of Senior Yemeni Qaeda Leader

Yemen’s defense ministry said Thursday that a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ayed al-Shabwani, was killed earlier this week in fighting near a militant-held town in Yemen’s south. One of Shabwani’s cousins was also reported killed, according to the ministry statement. But security analysts told Reuters that they remain skeptical about the deaths without more proof, “saying the government wanted to show it has the upper hand” in the fighting over the militant-held area. Last year, the Yemeni government also reported that it had killed Shabwani in an air strike, only to have AQAP deny his death. There has been no statement from the militant group in recent days about Shabwani’s reported death. Continue reading