Today’s Terrorism News

New Jersey al Shabaab Suspect Said to Be Engaged, Has “Anger Management Issues”

The two young men in last week’s terrorism arrest in North Bergen, New Jersey – one the son of Palestinian immigrants, the other from a Dominican family – showed signs of angry, disruptive behavior in their teens. According to the New York Times, “Their stories began like many others: troubled teenagers who scare and mystify their neighbors; run-ins with the police while still in high school; parents who cannot compete with the sense of belonging or purpose their boys find elsewhere.” Nadia Alessa, mother of defendant Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, said that her son is “stupid” but not a “terrorist” and had seen “16 or 17 psychiatrists for what she called ‘anger management issues,’” according to CNN. Meanwhile Siham Abedar, 19, has come forward to claim that Alessa was traveling to Egypt to marry her as part of an arranged marriage.  His desire to marry her and have children belies any believed terrorist intent, she claims. CNN,

Intelligence and Secrecy

Newsweek reports the newest draft of a bill that would authorize increased congressional oversight of intelligence agencies is likely to pass without a presidential veto and may lessen objections to the nomination of James Clapper as DNI. Foreign Policy notes that inherent to the debate over Clapper’s nomination is a concern with the effectiveness and supervisory competence of both the current nominee and the DNI itself.

The New York Times and Newseek both report that the Obama administration is going after people who leak classified information more often than the Bush administration did. “In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions,” the Times reports. “[P]rivately, officials say the recent moves show they are tougher on leaks than Bush officials were,” says Newsweek.

The State Department’s  Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is “assess[ing] the potential damage” of Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosures to Wikileaks, according to the Washington Post.  Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has offered to provide for Mannings defense and Adrian Lamo, who turned Manning in, has been contacted by someone claiming to be Assange. The e-mail from “Assange” can be found with commentary on Wired‘s Threat Level blog. L. Gordon Crovitz’s Wall Street Journal editorial on Wikileaks and national security discusses the consequences of removing the editorial screen between a “leaker” and the public.

Perspectives on Counterterrorism

Mark Hosenball and Evan Thomas identify a growing tension in the administration regarding the delicate balance between counterterror measures and the threat of blowback.  The authors discuss drone strikes, which have been mentioned as motivations by recent terrorists, as well as discussing the debate over Miranda warnings and pretrial detention of terror suspects.

In stark contrast, Daniel Byman and Christine Fair encourage readers to reconsider their take on the threat posed by most terrorists.  Acknowledging that most terrorists are shockingly impious, inexpert and often clumsy might aid in undermining extremist propaganda and recruitment, as well as saving time and money better spent preparing for those few, more well-prepared attackers.

The Washington Times takes the Obama administration and specifically John Brennan to task for seeking to find “root causes of extremism,” seeking to avoid the use of the religious term “jihad” in association with terrorism, and for viewing Islam “as a universally benign force.”

In the Wall Street Journal, James Rubin counters critics of the Obama’s administrations foreign policy and couterterrorism efforts.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Taliban

In an effort to cement progress made at the Afghani “peace jirga” earlier this month, the UN will be sending a committee to Afghanistan to explore the possibility of removing Taliban militant leaders from its terrorist blacklist. AFP, NY Times. Despite the promise offered by the jirga, two former senior Afghan government officials have leveled serious accusations at President Hamid Karzai, claiming that he no longer believes NATO and coalition forces have the capacity to secure the country, and that Karzai has unilaterally sought to foster an alliance with both the Taliban and Pakistan. NY Times, UPI.

In another blow to the Afghan government, U.S. military intelligence in the country has begun to focus more scrutiny on corruption, raising concerns regarding the threat of an increased popular perception of the Afghan government as ineffectual, which could shift support toward the Taliban and local warlords. NY Times, Wired’s Danger Room blog, AFP. To counter possible this possible shift in public opinion, the U.S. has continued its efforts to reform the American military detention apparatus in Afghanistan by reintegrating so-called “reformed” insurgents back into their local societies.

U.S. geologists in Afghanistan have identified mineral deposits worth up to $1 trillion, but some have raised doubts over the efficient and effective exploitation of these vast new resources.

A report authored by Harvard researcher Matt Waldman for the London School of Economics claims that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI,  provides the Taliban with shelter, funding, arms, and logistical support, a claim Pakistan has vehemently denied. Telegraph, Times Online, CNN, AfPak Channel.

Brian Fishman of the New America Foundation explains why distinguishing between groups commonly called the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban is not a useful distinction.

Former Guantanamo Detainees

The group of Uighur men who were resettled on the Pacific island nation of Palau last November following their detention at Guantanamo Bay are now asking to leave, reports the AFP.

Foreign Languages Skills at the State Department and DoD

The Washington Post reports that the Government Accountability Office has issued a “highly critical review of national security agencies’ programs” noting that foreign language ability among personnel of the departments of Defense and State is worsening and failing to meet language requirements, a problem that the State Department spokeswoman attributes to a dramatic increase in ‘language-designated positions.”


British security services worry that the American-born  cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is now targeting Britons for radicalization, according to the Telegraph.


Support for the Somali government supplied by the U.S. may be going in part to fund child soldiers, according to the New York Times.

The instability and insecurity in Somalia was demonstrated when government troops and police clashed in Mogadishu, resulting in a firefight that killed 13 people and wounded 14, four of them civilians.  According to one police officer, “The clashes came after some of the government troops started to rob a civilian car and the police were trying to stop it,” Reuters reports.

Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

Israeli, US, and Saudi sources have said that the Saudi military has prepared its air defense systems to be shut down to allow for a possible flyover by the Israeli Air Force en route to targets in Iran, though the Saudi government has rejected “the violation of its sovereignty and the use of its airspace or territory by anyone to attack any country.”  In a “provocative” move, Iran has sent aid ships toward the Gaza strip in another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the territory.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian Christian convert who worked for the Israeli intelligence, has lost his application for asylum in the U.S. According to Yousef, the reason for this denial was that he was considered “a danger to the security of the United States” and had “engaged in terrorist activity;” to support this allegation the U.S. government apparently cited work Yousef did for Hamas while spying for Israel, the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial. The piece argues that “[i]t would dishonor the U.S. to deport a convert in the war on terror because our immigration bureaucracy is too obtuse to make even life and death distinctions.”

The Philippines

Abu Sayyaf beheaded 3 loggers in the Philippines on the country’s Independence Day, apparently in response to recent government efforts against the al Qaeda-linked group. New York Times, AP via the Washington Post.

Support for American Lawyer Held in Rwanda

The continued detention of Peter Erlinder in Rwanda for denying the Rwandan genocide has resulted in threats from his fellow defense attorneys at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that they will not work on the cases they are assigned to unless he is released.  The charges against Erlinder stem from statements he made in the course of defending his clients.

News reports compiled by the staff of the Center on Law and Security


10 Responses to Today’s Terrorism News

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