Category Archives: Somalia

Today’s Terrorism News

Attorney General Holder in Kabul

Attorney General Eric Holder is visiting Kabul today to meet with Afghan officials about the elimination of corruption and the establishment of an “effective criminal justice system”. CNN, AP. The Department of Justice has the text of Holder’s official statement made in Kabul.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has unanimously confirmed General David Petraeus as the new top general in Afghanistan, although both Democrats and Republicans made it clear that they had reservations about the Afghan strategy. In the hearing, General Petraeus hinted at a number of possible strategic changes, including a reevaluation of the use of artillery and air support, which has been discouraged in previous years in order to prevent civilian casualties. The full Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation today. New York Times, New York Times’s At War blog, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR’s The Two-Way blog.

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Today’s Terrorism News

U.S. Citizen Arrested in Paraguay for Conspiring to Support Hezbollah

An American-Lebanese man suspected of smuggling merchandise to foreign countries in order to provide material support to Hezbollah was arrested in Paraguay yesterday, confirming suspicions of some officials that the Tri-Border area of Paraguay is becoming a “haven” for Islamic groups. The suspect faces extradition to America for prosecution in a Philadelphia federal court. AP, Newsweek‘s Declassified blog, Philly.com.

Police in Kosovo have arrested a man believed to be connected to a terrorist plot with a North Carolina target.

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Today’s Terrorism News

Arrest at Fort Gordon, “Several Possible Grenades” Found

In two separate incidents, U.S. military officials have arrested individuals trying to carry weapons onto bases in the United States. At CENTCOM headquarters – MacDill Air Force Base outside of Tampa, Florida – a couple was discovered attempting to bring ammunition and weapons onto the base on Monday. Little information has been released on the pair of intruders. Spc. Christopher Paul Kilburn had been stationed with Alpha Company, 1-16th 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. and was AWOL; his companion was Palm Beach resident Micah Noel Goodier. Reuters, AP, TBO.com. On Tuesday, “several possible grenades” were found in a vehicle at Fort Gordon, near Augusta, Georgia. The vehicle’s driver was impersonating a soldier and is now in FBI custody.  CNN, NBC Augusta.

Guantanamo

A Washington Post editorial highlights the case of Mohamed Mohamed Hassan Odaini, a Yemeni who has served eight years in Guantanamo, and urges the government to make an exception to the ban on returning detainees to Yemen for Mr. Odaini. The Post echoes the implications of the ruling made by Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., who, in a decision publicly released last week, determined that Odaini should be freed. “The evidence before the Court shows that holding Odaini in custody at such great cost to him has done nothing to make the United States more secure,” wrote Kennedy. The editorial briefly describes the story of Odaini, who inadvertently spent the night at a friend’s house that was raided as an al Qaeda sanctuary – and who as a result was incarcerated at Gitmo from the ages of 18-16 for this “life-altering decision to spend the night.”

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Today’s Terrorism News

Two Arrested with Rifles at CENTCOM HQ Entrance

A man and a woman armed with rifles and other “military gear” were arrested at the gates of MacDill Air Force Base in Florida yesterday afternoon. MacDill is the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military’s efforts in both Iraq an Afghanistan. Washington Post, TBO.com.

General Petraeus “Slumped Over” During Senate Hearing

The House and Senate are holding  hearings over the next few days to address the slower than expected progress of military surges in the southern Afghani provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, delays that could interrupt President Obama’s planned timeline for troop withdrawal. General Petreaus was taken from a Senate hearing room after he “slumped over” but quickly revived. He returned to the room about twenty minutes later.

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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, NJ.com.

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.

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Today’s Terrorism News

No Bail for New Jersey al Shabaab Suspects

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, accused of trying to join al Shabaab in Somalia, were denied bail yesterday.  The two allegedly acquired military gear and had attempted some type of training, in the form of paintball and working out, before they attempted to leave the U.S.  Almonte had exhibited anti-Jewish sentiment (“Death to all Juice”) in the past, along with attempting to legitimize terrorism on his Facebook page, according to the Daily News.

David Headley

David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his involvement in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, was interrogated by Indian investigators over the course of the past week in Chicago.  Headley’s cooperation with Indian officials was an agreed upon aspect of his plea agreement.  Headley was interrogated over seven days, without any restrictions as to content. BBC, AP, Chicago Tribune.

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Today’s Terrorism News

Hashmi Sentenced to 15 Years

Syed Hashmi was sentenced to 15 years yesterday, for allowing a “friend to store gear like waterproof socks, ponchos and sleeping bags in his apartment” and providing money to purchase a plane ticket to Pakistan for an individual who was going to deliver the gear to terrorists in Waziristan, according to the New York Times. The Hashmi case had drawn intense criticism from civil rights groups, as Hashmi was held for almost three years under pretrial Special Administrative Measures, amounting almost to solitary confinement, even though the allegations against him were completely nonviolent.

While stating that his decision to aid terrorists was the product of mistakes made when he was “ignorant of Allah and his message,” Hashmi further referred to terrorists as “noble mujahadeen,” stating that  “if they seek your help it is your duty to help them.”

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Today’s Terrorism News

Twelve Americans Detained in Yemen

The State Department said yesterday that 12 Americans are being detained in Yemen, although the reasons they are being detained aren’t known, according to the New York Times.

Other U.S. Citizens Held Abroad

A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry says the country has no intention of trading the three American hikers detained there for an Iranian scientist the country believes to be held in the U.S., says the AP. The hikers have been charged with spying.

A judge in Rwanda has refused bail to Peter Erlinder, lead defense counsel for top genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Erlinder is charged with denying the 1994 genocide and publishing articles threatening Rwanda’s security. The U.S. has called on the Rwandan authorities to release Erlinder, a U.S. attorney, who has denied all charges.

The Center on Law and Security wonders how many American citizens are being held abroad on terrorism-related charges.

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Today’s Terrorism News

Two New Jersey Men Arrested en route to Somalia

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte were arrested at JFK airport while attempting to board a plane bound for Somalia on Saturday. The New Jersey men were allegedly traveling to Somalia to join al Shabaab and “face charges of conspiring to kill, maim and kidnap persons outside the United States,” according to the AP. Both men are U.S. citizens, one by birth and one by naturalization. The arrests were in conjunction with a years-long investigation involving federal officials and the NYPD. The AP reports that “they had no known connections to terrorist groups, and their planned trip to Somalia apparently amounted to a leap of faith that they’d be embraced by the jihadists,” while the NY Times says that the number of U.S. citizens seeking to join al Shabaab has apparently slowed after the deaths of people who previously traveled to join the group.

In a mysterious case, a man who served as a government informant and helped almost 300 Somalis illegally enter the U.S. was sentenced to fourth months of time served on Friday. Because Anthony J. Tracy’s guilty plea is sealed, “the exact nature of his misconduct is unclear,” according to the AP via the NY Times.

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Today’s Terrorism News

Drone Policy Questioned

News

Philip Alston, U.N. special representative on extrajudicial executions, has filed a report criticizing U.S. drone policy. As reported by the New York Times, Mr. Alston is concerned that the existing policy “could quickly lead to a situation in which dozens of countries carry out ‘competing drone attacks’ outside their borders against people ‘labeled as terrorists by one group or another.’”

Commentary

Newsweek‘s The Gaggle blog, like Alston,  is concerned that the drone policy has no inherent geographic limitations. “Terrorists can be lurking in any country, including our own,” they say, “and striking them with missiles is not a feasible approach to eliminating them entirely.” While the drones may be useful in disrupting specific plots, the piece suggests they may also create hostility and are not a solution to underlying problems.

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