Thursday, May 7, 2015

NSA phone data collection illegal feds rule ...


THE GUARDIAN: The US court of appeals has ruled that the bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful, in a landmark decision that clears the way for a full legal challenge against the National Security Agency.

A panel of three federal judges for the second circuit overturned an earlier ruling that the controversial surveillance practice first revealed to the US public by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 could not be subject to judicial review.

NSA bulk data collection ruled illegal – read the court document

But the judges also waded into the charged and ongoing debate over the reauthorization of a key Patriot Act provision currently before US legislators. That provision, which the appeals court ruled the NSA program surpassed, will expire on June 1 amid gridlock in Washington on what to do about it.

The judges opted not to end the domestic bulk collection while Congress decides its fate, calling judicial inaction “a lesser intrusion” on privacy than at the time the case was initially argued.

“In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape,” the judges ruled.

But they also sent a tacit warning to Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who is pushing to re-authorize the provision, known as Section 215, without modification: “There will be time then to address appellants’ constitutional issues.”

“We hold that the text of section 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program,”concluded their judgement.

“Such a monumental shift in our approach to combating terrorism requires a clearer signal from Congress than a recycling of oft‐used language long held in similar contexts to mean something far narrower,” the judges added.

“We conclude that to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may become relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future fails even the permissive ‘relevance’ test.

“We agree with appellants that the government’s argument is ‘irreconcilable with the statute’s plain text’.”

The ruling, one of several in federal courts since the Guardian exposed the domestic bulk collection thanks to Snowden, immediately took on political freight.

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential candidate who has made opposition to overbroad surveillance central to his platform, tweeted: “The phone records of law abiding citizens are none of the NSA’s business! Pleased with the ruling this morning.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jihadist recruiter may have interacted with Garland, Texas attackers


One of the gunmen in the attack on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas on May 4th had interacted online with a jihadist recruiter well known to US authorities.

Elton Simpson, who was killed while attempting to attack the event, had a series of social media exchanges with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, an American-born jihadist and "mysterious ISIS recruiter" who has been living in Somalia since 2007.

Hassan, who goes by the nickname "Miski," was part of an initial wave of Minnesota-based youth who traveled to the Horn of Africa to fight alongside Al Shabaab, a jihadist group that initially formed to oppose the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. Hassan left for Somalia in 2008 at the age of 17, joining an organization that rapidly morphed into one of the world's most successful recruiters of foreign jihadists.

At the time Hassan arrived, Shabaab largely consisted of fighters that had been members of the Islamic Courts Union, a fundamentalist Islamic political movement that the Ethiopian invasion had removed from power. In Somalia's stateless vacuum, Shabaab was able to create an extensive safe haven for foreign fighters and to develop one of Africa's most dangerous terrorist groups. The group's foreign connections allowed Shabaab to claim a notable jihadist milestone: the first American jihadist suicide bomber in history carried out his attack on Shabaab's behalf, in 2011.


FBI photo of Hassan

Shabaab officially pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in 2012, and though the group had seen its territory reduced and much of its major leadership killed, it retains startling operational capabilities. On April 2nd, Shabaab killed 147 college students during an attack on a university in eastern Kenya.

Hassan had attracted the attention of American authorities from the outset of Shabaab's reign of terror and was charged with conspiracy to support terrorism in 2009.

According to short profiles from Minnesota Public Radio and the New York Times, Hassan was devoutly religious, and left for Somalia at the age of 17, when he was only one year away from graduating high school. He was determined to join the fight in Somalia, but only made it there on his second try: Hassan and an accomplice had previously attempted to purchase tickets to Africa but a mosque volunteer had caught wind of their plans and stopped them from leaving.

Hassan was part of a much larger group of Shabaab recruits and was charged under an indictment of 13 other American jihadists. In his book, Networks and Network Analysis for Defense and Security, Anthony J. Masys writes that Hassan was a peripheral member of a network of nearly two dozen Shabaab-related individuals from the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-mysterious-american-isis-recruiter-may-have-played-a-role-in-the-texas-attack-2015-5#ixzz3ZOneLz7M

U.S puts up big bounty for Isil leadership .


The U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice Program is offering rewards for information on four key leaders of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Secretary of State has authorized rewards of up to $7 million for information on ‘Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli; up to $5 million each for information on Abu Mohammed al-Adnani and Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili; and up to $3 million for information on Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi.

Established in 2004 as “al-Qaida in Iraq” and later known as the “Islamic State of Iraq,” ISIL has recruited thousands of followers from across the globe to fight in Iraq and Syria, where ISIL members continue to commit gross, systematic human rights abuses, including mass executions, persecution of individuals and entire communities on the basis of their identity, killing and maiming of children, rape, and numerous other atrocities.

In April 2013, ISIL’s current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Du’a, publicly declared that the Islamic State of Iraq was operating under the moniker of ISIL. ISIL has since asserted publicly that it is the true inheritor of Usama bin Ladin’s legacy.

‘Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli is a senior ISIL official who rejoined ISIL following his release from prison in early 2012. He traveled to Syria where he has worked with an ISIL network. He originally joined al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) in 2004 and served as AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s deputy and as AQI emir of Mosul, Iraq. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Qaduli as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 on May 14, 2014.

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, whose birth name is Taha Sobhi Falaha, is a senior leader of and official spokesman for ISIL. He is the main conduit for the dissemination of ISIL messages, including its declaration of ISIL’s creation of an Islamic caliphate. In public statements, al-Adnani has repeatedly called for attacks against Westerners and has vowed “defeat” for the United States. The U.S. Department of State designated al-Adnani as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on August 18, 2014.

Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili has served as a senior ISIL commander and Shura Council member. Batirashvili has overseen an ISIL prison facility in al-Tabqa where ISIL possibly held foreign hostages, has worked closely with ISIL’s financial section, and has managed ISIL operations in the Manbij area of Syria. In May 2013, he was appointed ISIL’s northern commander of operations in Syria’s Aleppo, al-Raqqah, Latakia, and northern Idlib provinces. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Batirashvili as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on September 24, 2014.

Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi was one of the first terrorists to join ISIL and has served as an ISIL official operating in Syria. He has helped to raise funds from Gulf-based donors for ISIL and has recruited and facilitated the travel of ISIL fighters. He was named ISIL’s leader for the border region between Syria and Turkey. As of late 2013, al-Harzi was chief of ISIL’s suicide bombers, overseeing ISIL’s suicide bomber facilitation pipeline. Al-Harzi also has procured and shipped weapons from Libya and Syria for ISIL operations in Iraq. On September 24, 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Harzi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

More information about these individuals is located on the Rewards for Justice website at www.rewardsforjustice.net. We encourage anyone with information on these individuals to contact the Rewards for Justice office via the website, e-mail (info@rewardsforjustice.net), phone (1-800-877-3927), or mail (Rewards for Justice, Washington, D.C., 20520-0303, USA). All information will be kept strictly confidential.

The Rewards for Justice program is administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Since its inception in 1984, the program has paid in excess of $125 million to more than 80 people who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Rewards4Justice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tensions ramp up near Yemen as Iran sends warships

Iran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, state media reported, establishing a military presence off the coast of Yemen where Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement.

The Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel sailed from Bandar Abbas on a mission to protect Iranian shipping from piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in comments cited by Press TV.

Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies have imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen as part of a two-week campaign to oust the Houthis, who have taken most of the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.

Iran has condemned the campaign and called for dialogue. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing military support to the Houthis, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.


The Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen, and the Red Sea, Sayyari said. The area is one of the world's most important shipping routes and a gateway between Europe and the Middle East

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Man killed one injured trying to ram NSA gate at Ft Meade .




FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — The warnings are strong and security is always tight, but most drivers are versed in the daily routine as thousands of employees and contractors stream through the closely guarded entrance to the National Security Agency.

The ordinary start to the work week came to a violent halt Monday, though, when two men dressed as women and driving in a stolen, dark-colored SUV ignored officers' orders at the gate to the spy agency headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland. Police fired on the SUV, which then rammed into a police vehicle. One suspect was killed. The second suspect was injured, as well as a police officer.

Whether the pair wanted to breach the perimeter or the driver was desperate and confused in a security-sensitive area only added to the mystery of the officer-involved shooting.

The FBI's Baltimore field office said it was investigating the "shooting incident."

"The shooting scene is contained and we do not believe it is related to terrorism," spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said in a statement.

The bureau declined to comment on the conditions of the second suspect and officer, except to say they were being treated at a local hospital.

Authorities say the cross-dressing men stole the SUV Monday morning from a hotel in Jessup, Maryland, and ended up about seven miles away at the NSA gate at Fort Meade, a sprawling Army post.

"The driver failed to obey an NSA Police officer's routine instructions for safely exiting the secure campus," Jonathan Freed, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement. The vehicle failed to stop, then "accelerated toward an NSA Police vehicle blocking the road. NSA Police fired at the vehicle when it refused to stop. The unauthorized vehicle crashed into the NSA Police vehicle."

Images from the scene showed emergency workers loading a uniformed police officer into an ambulance. Nearby were the dark-colored SUV and a white SUV emblazoned with "NSA Police," both heavily damaged.

"The incident has been contained and is under investigation," Army Col. Brian Foley, the Fort Meade garrison commander, said in a statement. "The residents, service members and civilian employees on the installation are safe. We continue to remain vigilant at all of our access control points."

The men were dressed as women, said a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing case.

Investigators have not determined how the man driving the stolen car died.

The SUV was stolen Monday morning, said Mary Phelan, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department. She declined to name the hotel, citing the ongoing investigation, or release any further details, referring all questions to the FBI.

The FBI is investigating and working with the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland to determine if federal charges are warranted, Thoreson said.

It's not the first time someone has disobeyed orders at an NSA gate. In July, a man failed to obey an NSA officer's command to stop as he approached a checkpoint. The man drove away, injuring an NSA officer and nearly striking a barricade. He was later arrested and is awaiting trial on federal charges.

Earlier this month, police captured a man accused of firing at a building on the NSA campus. The man, who was also accused of shooting at vehicles, told police he heard voices.

Fort Meade is home to the NSA, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. About 11,000 military personnel and about 29,000 civilian employees work on the property.

 The NSA's presence is visible, with large satellite dishes and glass and steel buildings rising from the tree line. Chain-link fences marked with restricted access signs and topped with barbed wire run along the perimeter of the campus. Posted signs inform drivers of various exits for the NSA and Fort Meade, including one for deliveries, another for a visitors' center and one designated for employees.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

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