Friday, September 30, 2011

Aww - that's a shame: Terrorist al-Awlaki kiled in airstrike.


Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- American-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki -- whose fluency in English and technology made him one of the top terrorist recruiters in the world -- was killed in Friday airstrike in Yemen, officials said.

Al-Awlaki's death, confirmed by U.S. and Yemeni officials, dealt yet another dramatic blow to an al Qaeda network still reeling from the killing and capture of several top leaders this year, most notably Osama bin Laden.

A "successful joint intelligence-sharing operation" between Yemen and the United States led to the attack that killed al-Awlaki, a Yemeni government official said Friday. The official asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the news media.

The United States regarded al-Awlaki, the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as a terrorist who posed a major threat to American homeland security. Western intelligence officials believe al-Awlaki was a senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most active al Qaeda affiliates in the world. It has been linked to the attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit in December 2009 and a cargo plane plot last year.

"Anwar al-Awlaki didn't need subtitles to indoctrinate," Sajjan Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation, who called al-Awlaki's death significant. "He spoke English, he understood how to impact the Muslim diaspora in the West."

Al-Awlaki was killed about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the Yemeni town of Khashef, east of the capital, Sanaa, said Mohammed Basha, a spokesman for the Yemeni Embassy in Washington. He said the operation was launched at 9:55 a.m.

A senior U.S. administration official confirmed al-Awlaki's death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to CNN because he is not authorized to release the information. The official did not provide any other information.

Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, al-Awlaki lived in the United States until the age of seven, when his family returned to Yemen. Al-Awlaki returned to the United States in 1991 for college and remained until 2002.

It was during that time that as an imam in California and Virginia, al-Awlaki preached to and interacted with three of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. He publicly condemned the attack afterward.

Al-Awlaki spent 18 months in a Yemeni prison from 2006 to 2007 on kidnapping charges, but was released without going to trial. Al-Awlaki claimed that he was imprisoned and held at the request of the United States.

U.S. officials say al-Awlaki -helped recruit Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man known as the underwear bomber, who was charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic flight as it landed in Detroit on December 25, 2009.

The militant cleric is also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hassan, who is accused of killing a dozen fellow soldiers and a civilian in a rampage at the Texas Army post.

"If you put it into perspective, (Osama) bin Laden's death had global ramifications for the transnational terror movement. Anwar Al-Awlaqi's death will have equal implications for lone-wolf terrorism," Gohel said.

That's because al-Awlaki was articulate and he understood the Western mindset, Gohel said. He knew his way around the internet and was skilled in indoctrinating impressionable youth.
Early this year, a Yemeni court sentenced al-Awlaki in absentia to 10 years in prison for charges of inciting to kill foreigners.

Prosecutors charged al-Awlaki and two others with "forming an armed gang" to target foreign officers and law enforcement in November.

At a U.S. congressional hearing this year, Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said, "I actually consider al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, with al-Awlaki as a leader within that organization, as probably the most significant threat to the U.S."

According to IntelCenter, which monitors jihadist propaganda, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who is responsible for expanding AQAP's focus on U.S. attacks, remains in charge of the group and further attempts to conduct attacks are expected.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

RC Aircraft Terror Bomb Plot Foiled by Feds


An Ashland man who holds a physics degree from Northeastern University was charged yesterday with an Al Qaeda-inspired plot to send a remote-controlled aircraft carrying explosives into the Pentagon and the US Capitol “to kill as many people as possible,’’ according to a complaint filed in federal court.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a US citizen whose only known previous crime was vandalism, told FBI agents working undercover as Al Qaeda members that he wanted to “change the world,’’ according to the complaint.

“I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me,’’ he told the agents, according to an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Gary S. Cacace.

“This is what we have to do. This is the righteous way . . . to terrorize enemies of Allah,’’ he said, calling for the deaths of any kafir, the Arabic term for nonbeliever.

Federal officials said that at no point did Ferdaus have sole control of explosive materials, such as C-4, or guns and that he was closely monitored by the FBI during his alleged plotting in the past year. But they also say that he was repeatedly questioned about his plans and that he was committed to carrying out the attacks.

“Our top priority is to protect our nation from terrorism and national security threats,’’ US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement.

“The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation’s Capitol.’’

She and Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said the arrest should not reflect on the larger Muslim community.

Prosecutors say that Ferdaus modified mobile phones to act as electrical switches for improvised explosive devices and that he gave eight of them to the FBI undercover agents, who he thought were Al Qaeda recruiters. According to the affidavit, when told that one of the devices had killed three US soldiers and injured at least four others in Iraq, he exclaimed, “That was exactly what I wanted.’’

Also, prosecutors said that Ferdaus had already hatched a plan to attack federal buildings before he met the undercover agents in March 2011. He later traveled to Washington, D.C., and took pictures of the Pentagon and the Capitol.

He subsequently received at least $7,000 from the agents to purchase one of the remote-controlled planes, which was the size of a human body. The agents also delivered 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades, and six AK-47 assault rifles to Ferdaus. He planned to recruit other men to shoot at people fleeing the Pentagon, prosecutors said.

Ferdaus obtained the first plane in August. He then had the undercover agents deliver the explosive materials and guns yesterday to a storage facility in Framingham that he had rented to plan his attacks. Once he took possession of the materials, he was arrested.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Failure to launch - матерщи́на! secret Russian missile goes nowhere.


A NEW secret intercontinental Russian missile has failed in its first test and crashed back into the launch zone.

Reports published overnight on Russian news agencies about the failed test firing from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia appeared to be the first indication that the secret ground-based missile even existed.

"After launch, the missile fell back down onto the territory of the cosmodrome. There were no casualties or damage," a military source told the state RIA Novosti news agency.

The Interfax news agency quoted its source as saying that the cause of the failed launch - which took place on Tuesday but was not announced at the time - was a problem with the second stage of the missile.

A defence ministry spokesman confirmed to Interfax that there had been tests the day earlier at Plesetsk of "new types of rocket technologies" but did not give any further details. The ministry did not offer any comment when contacted.

Russia news agencies said that the new missile was a development of Topol-M and Yars strategic missiles which have a range of over 10,000 kilometres. But the new missile has special features to defeat air defence systems.

"This was the first launch of the rocket which is equipped with a multiple warhead with a range of features to overcome air defence systems," a military source told the news agency.

The secret development of a missile that is able to beat air defences comes at a time when Russia is still locked in a tense dispute with the US over its plans to install such systems in ex-Communist Eastern Europe.

The failure of the missile is also just the latest setback for Russia's rocket forces after a series of mishaps with its submarine-launched intercontinental Bulava missile.

Russia has now carried out 16 tests of the Bulava, seven of which ended in failure.

The most embarrassing Bulava setback was in late 2009 when the missile's failure caused spectacular images in the sky above the Norwegian city of Tromso that locals initially put down to a meteor, the northern lights or even a UFO.

Analysts said that the new missile was most likely a modified version of the Yars (RS-24) which the gazeta.ru online newspaper said had the name "Avangard".

The director of the Director of the Center for Public and Political Research Vladimir Evseyev told Interfax that the missile did not appear to be a complely new design but had a range of features like decoy warheads aimed at defeating air defence systems.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Radioactive yellowcake found in Libya


Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- A military site containing what appears to be radioactive material has been uncovered by revolutionary forces near the southern Libyan city of Sabha.

The site, not far from Sabha in the Sahara desert, has two warehouses containing thousands of blue barrels marked with tape saying "radioactive," and plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape.

The material has not been confirmed as being radioactive, but in 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the Libyan government had yellowcake stored in Sabha.

Yellowcake is processed uranium ore that can be used to produce enriched uranium for nuclear purposes.

Fighters entered Sabha, long regarded as a pro-Gadhafi stronghold, on Wednesday afternoon and initially met no resistance, officials said.
About a dozen lightly armed revolutionary fighters are now guarding the military site outside the city.

Elsewhere, revolutionaries have taken control of the southwestern town of Ubari, chasing Moammar Gadhafi loyalists from the area as Libya's new leaders continued to gain momentum, National Transitional Council field commander Al-Amin Shtawi said Thursday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Amazingly awesome video of the Earth from the ISS.

NASA Space Shuttle Trainer Retires In Amarillo

Click to enlarge:


Last few seconds of flight - NASA 946 on final for runway 4 at Rick Husband/Amarillo International Airport.



NASA pilots Dick Clark and Ken Cockrell pose after the last flight of NASA 946 Space Shuttle trainer on delivery to Texas Air & Space Museum here in Amarillo. Wonderful gift in honor of Rick Husband - our hometown astronaut who gave his life on Columbia -STS-107.

The Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) is a NASA training vehicle that duplicates the Space Shuttle's approach profile and handling qualities, allowing Space Shuttle pilots to simulate Shuttle landings under controlled conditions before attempting the task on board the orbiter.



Because NASA has discontinued the shuttle program, the training aircraft is no longer needed.

The donated craft was delivered to the Texas Air & Space Museum shortly before noon today.

Museum Board President Ron Fernuik told the Amarillo Globe-News that the aircraft is a significant gift to the city because it is "bringing one of our own home."

The training aircraft was upgraded from its original production
version - a Grumman Gulfstream II - to simulate the space shuttle.

To keep the aircraft in good shape and provide a permanent viewing site the Texas Air & Space Museum needs to raise $35,000. They extend an invitation to all who feel they can give to assist them in their efforts to keep NASA 946 here at the airport that bears its' fallen astronaut's name.

You can contact the museum at 806-662-5823 or just give them a visit from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday - just NE of the Bell Helicopter-Textron V-22 Osprey plant.





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

US building secret bases for drones in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula to attack al-Qaeda


By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller
Washington Post

The Obama administration is assembling a constellation of secret drone bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula as part of a newly aggressive campaign to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said.

One of the installations is being established in Ethi­o­pia, a U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the Somali militant group that controls much of that country. Another base is in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, where a small fleet of “hunter-killer” drones resumed operations this month after an experimental mission demonstrated that the unmanned aircraft could effectively patrol Somalia from there.

The rapid expansion of the undeclared drone wars is a reflection of the growing alarm with which U.S. officials view the activities of al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, even as al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan has been weakened by U.S. counterterrorism operations.

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The negotiations that preceded the establishment of the base in the Republic of Seychelles illustrate the efforts the United States is making to broaden the range of its drone weapons.

The island nation of 85,000 people has hosted a small fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force since September 2009. U.S. and Seychellois officials have previously acknowledged the drones’ presence but have said that their primary mission was to track pirates in regional waters. But classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the unmanned aircraft have also conducted counterterrorism missions over Somalia, about 800 miles to the northwest.

The cables, obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, reveal that U.S. officials asked leaders in the Seychelles to keep the counterterrorism missions secret. The Reapers are described by the military as “hunter-killer” drones because they can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs.

To allay concerns among islanders, U.S. officials said they had no plans to arm the Reapers when the mission was announced two years ago. The cables show, however, that U.S. officials were thinking about weaponizing the drones.

The U.S. military also has flown drones over Somalia and Yemen from bases in Djibouti, a tiny African nation at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. In addition, the CIA is building a secret airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula so it can deploy armed drones over Yemen.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

Afghan peace leader killed in bomb attack ...


The chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, has been killed in a bomb attack at his home in Kabul, officials told the BBC.

He was meeting two members of the Taliban at his home at the time of the blast, officials said. It is unclear if they were involved in the attack.

The High Peace Council leads Afghan efforts to negotiate with the Taliban.

BBC:

Mr Rabbani is a former president of Afghanistan and also led the main political opposition in the country.

Unconfirmed reports say he may have been killed by a suicide attacker.

When the peace council was set up, Afghan President Hamid Karzai described it as the greatest hope for the Afghan people and called on the Taliban to seize the opportunity and help bring peace.

But many members of the council are former warlords who spent years fighting the Taliban and their inclusion led to doubts as to whether it could succeed in its mission.

Mr Rabbani recently spoke at a religious conference in Iran and called on Muslim scholars to speak out against suicide attacks.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pakistani troops battled Taliban militants over downed drone



By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan
Sunday, Sep 18, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani troops battled Taliban militants Sunday morning to win control of the remnants of a CIA drone that crashed in the nation’s borderlands, according to Pakistani security officials.

The cause of the crash of the unmanned Predator aircraft, among the drones the CIA uses to fire missiles at Taliban and al-Qaeda hideouts in the rocky region bordering Afghanistan, remained in dispute hours after it was downed in Zangarha village in South Waziristan. A military intelligence official based in the nearest city, Wana, said the drone suffered a mechanical failure. The Pakistani Taliban, a domestic offshoot of the Afghan insurgent organization, said its fighters had shot down the aircraft.

Pakistan’s restive tribal belt is a no-go zone for journalists and outsiders, making it impossible to verify the accounts of the crash. U.S. officials do not publicly acknowledge or discuss the covert drone program, and the CIA declined to comment Sunday on the crash reports. The Pakistani security officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

But if the reports prove true, the crash would be among very few in the seven-year-long history of the drone campaign in Pakistan, and it could risk exposing extremely sensitive technology, including cameras and other sensors used to monitor insurgents. Although the Taliban might have little tactical use for the debris, some of Pakistan’s allies — including Iran and China — might be interested in it.

In May, a U.S. helicopter crashed during the American commando raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad, and U.S. officials later said they suspected, but had not confirmed, that Pakistan gave the Chinese access to the largely destroyed helicopter. Pakistani officials denied doing so.

John Pike, a weapons expert at Globalsecurity.org, said that the drone crash Sunday could have exposed sensitive systems but that it would be difficult for adversaries to use the wreckage to replicate technology or adopt surveillance countermeasures. While the Chinese, for example, have sought to develop drone platforms and might gain insight from the downed U.S. aircraft, they already have a general understanding of drone capabilities. The downed copter, by contrast, used previously undisclosed stealth technologies.

“I don’t think the Chinese can do much more with it than the Taliban,” Pike said.

Drone strikes, which have skyrocketed during the Obama administration, are a growing source of tension between the United States and Pakistan, long-wary allies whose relationship has worsened this year. For years, the Pakistani government has allowed the program to continue while publicly protesting it and asking the United States to share its drone technology. But the Pakistani government’s tacit support for the drone campaign has waned as public outrage over it rises.

According to two Pakistani security officials, the drone crashed Sunday near a military base and Taliban militants quickly attempted to seize the debris. But the officials said Pakistani troops confronted the fighters and were able to collect the drone remnants after a clash lasting nearly four hours. Three militants were killed and two soldiers were injured in the fighting, an official from the paramilitary Frontier Corps said.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman who identified himself as Saifullah Sayab said in a phone interview that 25 fighters used an antiaircraft gun to shoot down the drone. The Pakistani army deployed a gunship helicopter to repel the Taliban, he said.

brulliardk@washpost.com

Khan is a special correspondent. Staff writer Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Little was right - NASA satellite coming home - could hit you!


WASHINGTON - (AP) -- U.S. space officials say they expect a dead satellite to fall to Earth in about a week.

NASA has been watching the 6-ton satellite closely. On Friday officials moved up their prediction for its arrival to Sept. 23, give or take a day.

NASA scientists have calculated the satellite will break into 26 pieces as it gets closer to Earth. The odds of it hitting someone anywhere on the planet are 1 in 3,200. The heaviest piece to hit the ground will be about 350 pounds, but no one has ever been hit by falling space junk in the past.

NASA expects to give the public more detailed information early next week. For now, all continents except Antarctica could be hit by satellite debris.

Davis Monthan AFB locked down - threat unclear.

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona was placed under lockdown because of a "potential security situation" Friday.

T/Sgt. James Russell Martin of the base media relations office said, "There was an unconfirmed spotting of a man with a weapon" and the base went into "crisis action mode, locking down the base for the safety and security of the people on Davis-Monthan."

Martin said, "No shots have been fired and no one has been hurt."

He said the suspicious man reportedly had run into an engineering building on the base.

Just after 2 p.m. The Tucson Police Bomb Squad and Pima County Regional SWAT Team made their way on to the base.

The Arizona Republic reports an armed civilian has barricaded himself in a room. Authorities and a SWAT team is negotiating with the man.

No one was being allowed in or out of the sprawling base on the southeast corner of Tucson.

"Security is going to be in place until base leadership feels the situation is under control," Martin said. "We're just going to make sure we maintain heightened security until we feel everything is safe and secure."

Davis-Monthan is one of Tucson's largest employer and up to 8,500 people are on the base at any one time.

Several news media outlets quoted people on the base as saying a "shooter" had been found and contained. Those reports could not be confirmed.

Tucson Fire spokeswoman Trish Tracy said the agency sent two ambulances and two fire trucks to the base.

An ambulance was seen leaving the base about 12:35 p.m., but officials said that had "nothing to do with the security situation."

"A member of our community is pregnant and she is being taken to the hospital," the base said.

Ron Barber, a member of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' staff, told KPNX Channel 12 in Phoenix that he became aware of the lockdown as he left the base about 10 a.m. after a function for Giffords, who is recovering from an assassination attempt in January.

Barber said, "We were all lined up to get out of the base. I just got there as they were closing the gates. Everything was really calm. Air Force personnel were going about their business in a very professional manner."

Barber said he was not told what was going on, but was allowed to leave.

Davis-Monthan is adjacent to the Pima Air and Space Museum and the "boneyard" for old military and government airplanes that is a popular destination for aviation enthusiasts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Navy christening Speahead - fast - stealthy - agile ship



By John Roach, contributing writer at msnbc.com.

The U.S. Navy will christen on Saturday a catamaran-style cargo ship that can zip through shallow waters at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, loaded down with 1.2 million pounds worth of gear.

The joint high speed vessel, named Spearhead, is the first of ten 338-foot-long aluminum dual-hull boats that are being constructed by Austral USA in Mobile, Ala., as part of a contract worth a reported $1.6 billion.

The company is also under a $3.5 billion contract to build ten trimaran Littoral Combat Ships, which can cruise at more than 45 miles per hour.

This need for speed stems from a desire for ships to operate in near-shore environments in the post Cold-War era, explained Loren Thompson, a defense analyst and chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

"The Navy decided that its future was going to be mainly about influencing
developments ashore," he told me Thursday. "It therefore started thinking about what sorts of vessels could survive close to shore and the conclusion it came to was speed mattered a lot."

Fast ships, for example, can outrun enemy warships and torpedoes, and the nimble agility of these new boats also allow quick maneuvers to dodge other types of dangers, Thompson added.

The JHSV being christened on Saturday in Mobile can berth 146 passengers and carry an additional 312 in airline-style seating. A flight deck allows helicopters and rotary air vehicles to take off and land. It has a range of more than 1,380 miles.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

Navy interested in stealth boat for special teams ...


By Jesse Emspak


A new kind of boat is designed to move quickly and stealthily through water by generating a layer of gas around its underwater surfaces.
The design reduces friction by a factor of 900, according to the New Hampshire company that produced the boat. Its smooth speed makes it ideal for special operations. It could also revolutionize shipping.

Juliet Marine recently unveiled the Ghost, a ship it says can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The shape of the craft is similar to earlier attempts at making watercraft less visible to radar — notably the Navy's "Sea Shadow" project of the 1980s.

Gregory Sancoff, president and chief executive officer of Juliet Marine, says this boat is a quantum leap beyond those early designs. "The Sea Shadow was an 11-knot craft," he said. "This is much faster."

Sancoff isn't willing to go into too much technical detail, partly because the U.S. government is interested and the company is working with a defense contractor to build a 150-foot model. He can say that the double-hulled boat generates and surrounds itself with a layer of gas, reducing friction and boosting its speed.

The phenomenon is called supercavitation. Supercavitation occurs when a projectile moving through water generates a low-pressure zone around its surface. Go fast enough and the low-pressure zone becomes a layer of gas. In that respect the Ghost is similar to a Russian-made torpedo (called the "Shkval," or squall), though the underwater portion of the boat's twin hulls are a new design.

The task of making a ship less visible to radar is physically the same as what is done with an airplane — the idea is to make the radar waves bounce off, just not back toward the sender. Jan Brink, an electromagnetic compatibility specialist at Kockums, a Swedish company that designed and built the Visby-class stealth ships for that country's navy, says the shape of a ship has to account for radar coming from above, whereas an airplane has to deal with radar from below.

"For us on a ship looking to reduce radar cross section, it's a radar beam from another ship or radar from a missile," he said.

The Ghost is designed for missions close to coasts, such as getting special operations teams into and out of areas quickly. Another possible mission would be dealing with pirates and "swarm" attacks on aircraft carriers and destroyers. Sancoff says the speed of the Ghost makes it useful against smaller boats that can outrun and outmaneuver larger ones. Contrary to popular belief, aircraft carriers and destroyers carry little in the way of defensive guns.

The 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen was accomplished with a small boat that simply ran into its side.

"Right now we have thousands of sailors whose only defense against high-speed craft is a .50 caliber machine gun from World War II," Sancoff said.
Eric Wertheim, analyst at the U.S. Naval Institute, says the big issue for a boat like the Ghost will be identifying its niche within the military.

"This is a tough budget time to be introducing any technology that isn't being specifically called for by the Navy," he said. "For the last 100 years the stealth boat has been the submarine," he said. Submarines can do special ops missions too, as demonstrated by the fact that smugglers have recently made good use of them. "You have to answer the question of what is the need not being met," he said.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

NASA wants to build most powerful rocket ever - but if wishes were horses -beggars would be riders...


WASHINGTON (AP) — To soar far away from Earth and even on to Mars, NASA has dreamed up the world's most powerful rocket, a behemoth that borrows from the workhorse liquid-fuel rockets that sent Apollo missions into space four decades ago.

But with a price tag that some estimate at $35 billion, it may not fly with Congress.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and several members of Congress on Wednesday unveiled the Obama administration's much-delayed general plans for its rocket design, called the Space Launch System. The multibillion-dollar program would carry astronauts in a capsule on top, and the first mission would be 10 years off if all goes as planned. Unmanned test launches are expected from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in six years.

Calling it the "largest, most powerful rocket built," NASA's exploration and operations chief, William Gerstenmaier, said the rocket will be tough to construct. But when NASA does it, "we'll have a capability to go beyond low-Earth orbit like no other nation does here on Earth," he said in a telephone briefing Wednesday.

The rocket resembles those NASA relied on before the space shuttle, but even its smallest early prototype will have 10 percent more thrust than the Saturn V that propelled Apollo astronauts to the moon. When it is built to its fuller size, it will be 20 percent more powerful, Gerstenmaier said. That bigger version will have the horsepower of 208,000 Corvette engines.

NASA is trying to remain flexible on where it wants to go and when. The space agency is aiming for a nearby asteroid around 2025 and then on to Mars in the 2030s. There could even be a short hop to the moon, but not as a main goal. All those targets require lots of brute force to escape Earth's orbit, something astronauts have not done since 1972.

The far-from-finalized price tag may be too steep given federal budget constraints.
"Will it be tough times going forward? Of course it is," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a separate news conference. "We are in an era in which we have to do more with less — all across the board — and the competition for the available dollars will be fierce. But what we have here now are the realistic costs" verified by independent experts.

Although five senators of both parties who are leaders in science issues praised the plan in a joint press release, outside experts are skeptical that Congress will agree to such a big spending project.

"In the current political environment, new spending is probably the most taboo thing in politics," said Stan Collender, a former Democratic congressional budget analyst. He put the odds of this getting congressional approval at "no better than 50-50 this year. There are going to be a lot of questions asking what kind of commitment we're going to be making here. You can find yourself with a rocket that no one wants to fire."

Nelson puts the cost of the program at about $18 billion over the next five years. But that estimate is mostly for development and design through the first test flight in 2017, and doesn't include production of later rockets, Gerstenmaier said. Gerstenmaier wouldn't give a total estimate, but it is almost double that, according to senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make the announcement.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY ON YAHOO NEWS

Speed Agile concept for a stealth transport


The internets are all abuzzing over "Speed Agile" stealth STOL transport concept today. Apparently "stealthies" happened on this .pdf file -and it has gone viral.

WARNING! Click on this link at your own risk. It is a government monitored site.

LINK

Al Qaeda leader bites the big one ...



Al Qaeda leader killed in Pakistan
By National Security Supervising Producer Adam Levine

An al Qaeda figure identified as the terrorist network's chief of operations in Pakistan has been killed, a U.S. officials said Thursday.

Abu Hafs al-Shari was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan, according to one of the sources. While there was no explanation how he was killed, it is known armed predator drones have been used to kill suspected terrorists.

One US official called it a "blow" to the core of Al Qaeda.

"The loss of their chief of operations in Pakistan, an individual who played a key operational and administrative role for the group, will pose a challenge for Zawahiri. Abu Hafs was a contender to assume some of [recently killed Atiyah abd al-Rahman's] duties, coordinated al Qaeda’s anti-US plotting in the region, and worked closely with the Pakistani Taliban to carry out attacks inside Pakistan."

A senior administration official said the strike will "further degrade" Al Qaeda's ability to recover from the Rahman killing in August because " because of his operations experience and connections within the group."

The pressure on Al Qaeda in Pakistan has been significant with a number of key leaders, most notably Osama bin Laden, being eliminated. Earlier this week, the top intelligence official at the Pentagon said US counterterrorism operations have left the group feeling "besieged."

"Its senior leaders are being eliminated at a rate far faster than al Qaeda can replace them, and the leadership replacements the group is able to field are much less experienced and credible," said Michael Vickers, the Under Secretary for Defense Intelligence at an event in Washington on Tuesday. Vickers said the pressure on Al Qaeda has left it in a "precarious" postiion and predicted that at this rate the group could be eliminated wtihin the next two years.

"We have substantially attrited AQ's mid-level operatives, trainers and facilitators, its recent recruits, including several westerners, and senior leaders and operatives of its safe haven providers," Vickers said.

Fireball over Southwest - not aliens - but space rocks.


Photo by sottnet.
When a streak of fire blazed through the air above southern California, people could have been forgiven for thinking the Earth was under attack.

Thousands saw it from Phoenix in Arizona to Las Vegas and Los Angeles and local authorities were swamped with reports of ball of flame in the night sky.
One witness said: 'It was huge. It had a green glow in front of it and a white tail. It looked like green fireworks going across the sky.'

Blazing through the sky: The fireball seen over southern California and Arizona

But experts have revealed the phenomenon was most likely a fireball - a fragment of an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere.

The light was seen shooting quickly from west to east at around 7.45pm PDT, or 2.45am GMT.

Many reported it as bluish-green and others as yellow and orange. Some captured video of the object.


Read more here

Al Qaeda in Pakistan life expectancy? 2 years.




US: Al Qaeda in Pakistan could be gone in two years
By Sr. National Security Producer Pam Benson

Al Qaeda's ability to carry out operations from its Pakistan base could be eliminated within the next two years, according to Michael Vickers, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Vickers told a conference at the National Defense University this week that, "Assuming sustained CT (counterterrorism) operations against the group, within 18 to 24 months, core al Qaeda cohesion and operational capabilities could be degraded to the point that the group could fragment and exist mostly as a propaganda arm and power could devolve to regional affiliates."

This marks the first time a senior U.S. official has put a time frame on the end of the threat of attack posed by al Qaeda's senior leadership operating in the ungoverned areas of Pakistan.

On his first trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary in July, Leon Panetta told reporters that the United States was "within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda." He said the successful operation to take out Osama bin Laden and the identification of other key al Qaeda leaders put the United States in a better position.

"If we can be successful at going after them, I think we can really undermine their ability to do any kind of planning, to be able to conduct any kind of attack" on the United States. "That's why I think it's within reach. Is it going to take some more work? You bet it is. But I think it's within reach," Panetta said.

In his speech on Tuesday, Vickers said al Qaeda's leaders "are being eliminated at a far faster rate than al Qaeda can replace them," and noted the replacements "are much less experienced and credible."

He said eight of al Qaeda's 20 key leaders have been eliminated this year, citing the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, the death of al Qaeda second-in-command Atiya Abdul Rahman in August, and the capture of Younis Mauritani, a senior planner of operations, earlier this month.

Only al Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, remains active among those who were the top nine terrorists at the time of the 9/11 attacks against the United States in 2001.

But Vickers did note al Qaeda is resilient and remains a dangerous threat to the United States.

"It maintains a worldwide strength numbering in the low thousands, it has broadened its reach through affiliate organizations" in general, but in particular he mentioned al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which he said has been able to increase its operating space in Yemen.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been linked to the attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit in December 2009 and a cargo plane plot last year.

Defense officials told Pentagon reporters on Wednesday that the United States sees "cross-pollenization between AQ affiliates." The two officials, who would only speak to reporters on the condition their identities not be used, cited a recent attack by Boko Haram, a militant group based in Nigeria.

The official said, "When you see a group like Boko Haram, which is focused internally, use a car bomb the way they did, it's a capability they clearly got from AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)." But a senior defense official said of the idea of al Qaeda affiliates banding together, "You aren't going to see some Legion of Doom. It's an opportunity for an alliance of convenience."

Although Vickers predicted al Qaeda's core might be marginalized within 18 to 24 months, he said it might take longer to sufficiently disrupt the affiliates. "We likewise may not be done with the operational dismantlement of all of the group's regional affiliates within the next two years."

READ THE REST HERE AT CNN

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Haqqani terrorist network blamed for Kabul attacks ...


SAN FRANCISCO — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned the United States would retaliate against insurgents based in Pakistan blamed for staging a dramatic attack in the Afghan capital.
A day after a 19-hour assault staged near the US embassy and NATO headquarters, Panetta expressed frustration that the Pakistani government has so far failed to crack down on Haqqani network militants that Washington suspects carried out Tuesday's attack.

"Time and again we've urged the Pakistanis to exercise their influence over these kinds of attacks from the Haqqanis and we've made very little progress in that area," Panetta told reporters aboard his plane before landing in San Francisco.

"I'm not going to talk about how we're going to respond. I'll just let you know that we're not going to allow these kinds of attacks to go on," he said.

Panetta's tough words come amid strained relations with Islamabad following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani hideout on May 2, a raid that Panetta oversaw while he was CIA director.

Islamabad's leaders had no advance word of the secret operation, which has caused anger and soul-searching in Pakistan.

As head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Panetta also presided over a dramatic expansion in drone bombing raids in Pakistan, with robotic aircraft targeting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in the country's northwest tribal areas.

US officials have for years demanded Islamabad move against the Haqqani network, which operates in part out of sanctuaries inside Pakistan's borders.

Before the Kabul attack, the US military blamed the Haqqani militants for a truck bombing on Saturday against a NATO base in Wardak province that wounded 77 American troops.
"I'm very concerned about the Haqqani attacks because, number one, they're killing people, they're killing our forces.

"But number two, they escape back into what is a safe haven in Pakistan. And that's unacceptable. So the message they need to know is that we're going to do everything we can to defend our forces."
The 19-hour Taliban assault on Kabul turned the city's most heavily secured district into a battle zone. Fifteen people were killed and six foreign troops wounded in the attack.
The insurgents managed to occupy a high-rise building site that towers over the US embassy and NATO's headquarters in Afghanistan, firing rockets and spraying gunfire well inside a supposedly secure zone.

The bold assault is the latest in a series of attacks in Kabul that suggest the Taliban can move with apparent ease around the capital, a decade after their regime was ousted by US-led forces.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

Scumbag Ayman al-Zawahri running scared ...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

ISLAMABAD — Al-Qaida's new leader is likely hiding in either Yemen or Somalia, a Pakistani intelligence official told NBC News on Wednesday.

Ayman al-Zawahri and key commanders are believed to have "migrated" from South Asia, the source said.Al-Zawahri was Osama bin Laden's deputy and became head of al-Qaida after bin Laden's was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan.

NBC News reported Tuesday that a senior U.S. intelligence official believed that al-Zawahri was "constantly on the run" as he tried to avoid being targeted by CIA drone strikes or a special forces raid. NBC News' Jim Miklaszewski said al-Zawahri was focusing on "just trying to stay alive" and had no role in any al-Qaida operations.

The Pakistani official, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said that "solid intelligence reports based on recent al-Qaida arrests" suggested that al-Zawahri had "gone either to Yemen or Somalia

Latest Taliban attack another epic FAIL ...



A nearly day-long Taliban siege on the U.S. Embassy and NATO command center in Kabul ended early Wednesday, Afghan and NATO officials said.

Six militants have been killed and the building they were firing from has been cleared, the ministry said.

The strike in central Kabul began Tuesday amid intelligence that insurgents might launch a high-profile attack in the capital around the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, a coalition officer and a senior official of NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed to CNN.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told CNN that his group targeted "the U.S. Embassy, governmental organizations and other foreign organizations."

ISAF said after insurgents attacked the targets Tuesday afternoon "with small arms fire from outside the secure zone surrounding these compounds," Afghan security forces "responded immediately."
Afghan National Army helicopters provided air support.

Afghan and international troops "trapped the insurgents in the partially-constructed, multi-story building they were using as a firing position, and conducted a methodical, floor-by-floor clearing operation," ISAF said.

Central Kabul is considered a high-security area, and it is protected by police and other security forces.

"Afghan security forces responded bravely, contained the insurgents, and systematically eliminated the threat. Once again, I was impressed by the courage, skill and fighting spirit of Afghan forces. The insurgency has again failed," Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander, said Wednesday.
Casualties occurred in three other incidents Tuesday in other parts of the city, the Interior Ministry said.

The attack by the Taliban continued what has been a violent period. Over the weekend, two Afghan laborers were killed while 77 U.S. troops and 25 Afghan workers were wounded in a Taliban truck bombing on an ISAF base in Afghanistan's Wardak province.

Last month, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least eight people in Kabul when they attacked the British Council, a British-government-affiliated body that fosters cultural and academic exchanges.
The Taliban harbored the al Qaeda network that launched the 9/11 strike. A U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban and has been fighting militants in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years.

NATO is drawing down and handing over security control to national forces. Some 10,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to depart by year's end, with all U.S. military personnel out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Man with dent in his head says-America is Satan-blah-blah-blah.




Scumbag and soon to be killed in a Predator strike - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has apparently released a new message to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, in which he praises the Arab Spring as a "devastating blow" to the United States.

The hour-long video, posted Monday on websites run by supporters of the terror network, includes an audio broadcast purportedly from al-Zawahiri and a video message from Osama bin Laden, recorded before his death in May.

Al-Zawahiri's speech lauds the Arab Spring as having "liberated thousands of the members of the Islamic movement's prisoners, who were imprisoned by direct orders from America."

The uprising in a number of Arab nations, including Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has also "liberated the Arab people from handcuffs of fear and terror," the message says.
The bin Laden video is apparently the same footage that was released by the U.S. government after bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan, but this one includes the audio of the former al Qaeda leader speaking.

The version issued by the Pentagon, after it was found in bin Laden's Abbottabad compound, was silent.

The SITE Intelligence Group cites bin Laden's message as warning Americans against "falling as slaves" to the control of major corporations and "Jewish money capital."
In his message, bin Laden also recommends that Americans read the book "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward, saying that they should realize that Obama's government has not lived up to his campaign slogan, "Yes we can."

At the time they released it, U.S. officials said they believed the video, which was entitled "A Message to the American People" and had not been broadcast by al Qaeda, was recorded in October or November last year.

NORAD scrambled because couple was doin' it.


Note to travelers: don't be getting freaky on a day where national security officials are on edge. You'll get yanked off your plane faster than you can say "Mile High Club."

When airline staff aboard Sunday's Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit noticed a couple in the bathroom for "an extraordinarily long time," they notified the Transportation Security Authority. It quickly turned into a scene reminiscent of a high school gossip movie...starring our scariest government agencies.

The TSA told the FBI who told NORAD, who immediately told two F-16 fighter jets to escort the plane to Detroit's Metropolitan Airport. After a SWAT team with boarded the plane on the tarmac, three people were escorted from the plane in cuffs.

A passenger on the plane told the Associated Press that SWAT instructed everyone to "put your hands on the seat in front of you. Don't move." They brought on three K-9 dogs, and led the three suspects off the plane.

Official FBI reports indicate the couple wasn't feeling well and needed to use the restroom. According to ABC News, however, the people in the bathroom were simply "making out."

People, we get it. Being up in the air makes us want to do crazy things, too. Horomones run wild, impulses get out of control. But cool your jets around the cockpit -- especially around September 11th.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Massive terrorist bomb-massive fail.


CNN) -- Authorities believe a truck carrying more than 1,500 pounds of explosives caused a massive blast outside a combat outpost that injured 77 U.S. troops and killed at least two Afghan civilians over the weekend, a U.S. military official said.
The attack -- which occurred on the eve of the 10th anniversary of al Qaeda's 9/11 attack on the United States -- left a large crater at the site that could be 20 feet deep, according to the official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation.

Most of the U.S. troops have concussions, the military official said. More than half of them were evacuated to U.S. military medical installations for evaluation, but all are expected to return to duty, the official said.
Two Afghan civilians were killed and 25 others were wounded in attack, U.S. Army Sgt. Lindsey Kibler said.

The truck bombing took place in the central-east province of Wardak, and those killed were Afghan laborers, said Shahidullah Shahid, the Wardak governor's spokesman.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault. NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed the attack was carried out by a Taliban suicide bomber.
Attack hits NATO base on 9/11 anniversary Has the Taliban changed since 9/11?

Authorities are still investigating, the U.S. military official said. Investigators are looking at the possibility that insurgents originally planned to use the bomb against a high-profile target in Kabul around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but found security too tight in the capital, the official said.
Investigators also believe the bomb included a chemical accelerant to increase the impact of the blast, the official said, but the majority of the blast was absorbed by protective barriers.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NORAD scrambles jets - passengers behaving oddly.


(CNN) -- Reports of air passengers acting suspiciously on two flights prompted authorities Sunday to scramble fighter jets on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

What happened on the flights has no nexus to terrorism, a federal law enforcement official said.
In the first incident, the Transportation Security Administration was notified of passengers allegedly behaving oddly on American Airlines Flight 34 from Los Angeles International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, said TSA spokesman Greg Soule.

Out of an abundance of caution, authorities sent two F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed safely at JFK at approximately 4:10 p.m. ET, Soule said, adding law enforcement will interview passengers. J. Peter Donald of the the FBI in New York said the incident involved three passengers.
Tim Smith, a spokesman for American, told CNN that a passenger alerted the crew to a perceived security concern. The captain investigated and elected not to declare a security threat and no one on board requested military or law enforcement assistance, Smith said.

The second incident involved Frontier Airlines Flight 623 from Denver International Airport to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Crew members noticed two men acting suspiciously. One spent about 20 minutes in a bathroom in the back of the plane while the other waited in a forward galley before using the restroom, also for 20 minutes, said Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuk.
Elite pilots ready for potential threats


"The crew did not feel threatened," Kowalchuk said, but "maintained surveillance" of the men.
TSA spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the agency was notified at 3:15 p.m. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) ordered an unspecified number of F-16s to shadow the flight, Lee said.

Authorities took three passengers, including the two acting suspiciously, into custody when the aircraft landed in Detroit, Kowalchuk said. There have been no arrests, said Sandra Berchtold of the FBI.

The Airbus A318, which had 116 passengers and four crew members, was taken to an auxiliary pad after it landed at 3:30 p.m. The plane was cleared for use at 5:15 p.m., Lee told CNN.
Authorities later finished questioning the deplaned passengers about the incident, said Scott Wintner of the Wayne County Airport Authority.

Wintner said the airport's response was standard for such a situation. "The response would have been the same yesterday as it was today, and it would be the same tomorrow."
In a third incident, a carry-on bag at Kansas City International Airport caused a security guard at a checkpoint to be concerned, said airport spokesman Joe McBride.
A man was uncooperative when asked if if the bag could be searched and was subsequently detained, McBride said.

Terminal B was closed and evacuated abut 9:30 a.m., and a bomb squad was brought in. The squad used water hoses to open and inspect all of the man's bags, including those that were checked, McBride said. The terminal reopened by 2 p.m.
Authorities were questioning the man, McBride said.
The FBI's Bridget Patton said agents went to the scene. No explosives were found in the luggage, she said.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

North Korea electronically attacked US recon flight last March




By AFP
SEOUL -


A US military reconnaissance plane came under electronic attack from North Korea and had to make an emergency landing during a major military exercise in March, a political aide said Friday.

The aide said the plane suffered disturbance to its GPS system due to jamming signals from the North's southwestern cities of Haeju and Kaesong as it was taking part in the annual US-South Korea drill, Key Resolve.

The incident was disclosed in a report that Seoul's defense ministry submitted to Ahn Kyu-baek of parliament's defense committee, the aide to Ahn said.

Spokesmen for the defense ministry and US Forces Korea declined to comment.
Jamming signals -- sent at intervals of five to 10 minutes on the afternoon of March 4 -- forced the plane to make an emergency landing 45 minutes after it took off, the aide quoted the report as saying.

The signals also affected South Korean naval patrol boats and speedboats, as well as several civilian flights near Seoul's Gimpo area, according to the report.

Seoul mobile users also complained of bad connections, and the military reported GPS device malfunctions as the South and the US were staging the drill, which was harshly criticized by the North.

The Communist state has about 20 types of jamming devices, mostly imported from Russia, and has been developing a new device with a range of more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) near the heavily-fortified border, the Yonhap news agency has said.

Two terror plotters are in U.S.

New York (CNN) -- Two of the three suspects believed to be involved in a potential 9/11 anniversary plot against New York or Washington are of Arab descent and traveled to the United States last week, according to a U.S. government official.

Authorities are operating under the assumption that two of the suspects have arrived on U.S. soil, and have been piecing together clues gleaned from flight logs and manifests, among other sources, said the official, who declined to be named.

A third plotter is believed to be have traveling in Europe, though it is not clear whether that person has arrived in the United States, the official said.

American spy networks had intercepted communications of an attack from an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan, derived from a source who has provided accurate information in the past, official say.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spy network picks up al Qaeda 9-11 plot

Breaking:

Washington (CNN) -- American spy networks have intercepted communications from an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan indicating plans for a terrorist strike in New York or Washington, according to a senior U.S. official.

The communications come from a source who has provided accurate information in the past, the official said, prompting intelligence officials to sift through communications from other al Qaeda cells.

No other corroborating evidence of an attack has been uncovered, the official added.
But the information indicates the plan -- thought to involve a vehicle-borne explosive device -- is meant to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Hillary Clinton explains 9/11 threat NYPD's Kelly: Public should be vigilant New terror threat Terror threat on 9/11 real?

Intelligence officials said they have picked up "chatter," or widely divergent communications, from extremists that suggest the newly tapped al Qaeda head, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is in some way involved in the current plot.

Meanwhile, heightened security was visible Friday in New York and Washington as intelligence officials worked to pin down information about the potential threat and federal and local law enforcement fanned out across both cities. Police checkpoints jammed Manhattan streets, causing traffic delays.

A senior U.S. official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals, including a U.S. citizen. It is believed to entail a vehicle bomb, but "we cannot rule out other means."

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in Friday, saying the information was at least in part gleaned from the May raid against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"This is the first ... credible piece of information we've gotten," Biden told NBC's "Today" show. "All hands are on deck."

U.S. officials rarely speak on the record about intelligence intercepts.
And in the days following the raid on bin Laden's compound, U.S. officials indicated al Qaeda had gone to great lengths to avoid having its communications intercepted by the United States.
While the precise nature of communication intercepts is rarely discussed, U.S. officials repeatedly have indicated their comfort with sharing the results of those intercepts.

It is not clear how the bin Laden raid helped authorities connect the dots to the prospect of an anniversary attack, but Biden downplayed the threat of a widely sophisticated plot involving multiple conspirators.
Wings for the fallen: 9/11 in metal 9/11 memorial takes shape First responders form 'cancer club' Being funny after 9/11

Washington, DC
He said the administration's principal concern from a "lone actor, not some extremely complicated plan like it took to take down the World Trade (Center) towers or the plane in Shanksville (Pennsylvania) or the Pentagon."
He added, "It doesn't mean they couldn't happen, but it's much less likely. The lone actor is the more worrisome thing because there are fewer trails to follow, there are fewer leads to move on."

On Friday morning, police officers stopped and searched box trucks as they approached the George Washington Bridge, which links New Jersey with New York, as well as by the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Police also manned checkpoints in Midtown and downtown Manhattan, where they examined vehicles, particularly vans and trucks, for possible bombs.
"That's something we've always been concerned about, the introduction of a radioactive isotope, a dirty bomb," said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

New York police also are sweeping parking garages for explosives and using digital license plate readers to check for stolen vehicles, Browne said. While security would normally have been raised for the anniversary of 9/11, he added, the vehicle checkpoints were a response to the threat alert.

A senior U.S. administration official said Friday that it is the "origin" of the intelligence information that is causing particular concern.
The "working assumption" is that if the plot is genuine, then some individuals involved in it already have entered the United States, the official said. But he stressed they cannot confirm that has happened.

U.S. officials believe operatives came out of the tribal Pakistan-Afghanistan border region -- a volatile semilawless area home to extremist groups -- and that they are part of al Qaeda "central," he said.

The official also noted a possibility that Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan could be involved.
And yet a separate senior law enforcement official involved in briefings about the matter told CNN his best information is that the three individuals had not yet entered the United States.

A senior White House official said President Barack Obama had been updated about the potential threat after his speech Thursday night to a joint session of Congress, and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan briefed him again Friday.

No changes have been made to the president's schedule for Friday or the weekend.
Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan's minister of borders and tribal affairs, said no recent intelligence suggests a possible attack on the United States.
New York City Michael Bloomberg told reporters Thursday night that while additional police will be deployed around the city, "There's no reason for any of the rest of us to change ... our daily routines."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to be cautious but said, "There is no reason to panic."

Another senior federal law enforcement official involved in counterterrorism efforts told CNN that authorities "aren't sure if this is or real or just chatter."
A joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security indicated other methods than a truck or car bomb could be used, including attacks with small arms, homemade explosive devices and poisons.

Al Qaeda probably would provide its operatives with enough autonomy to select the particular target and method of attack, the bulletin said, and an attack may involve operatives carrying U.S. documentation.

Intelligence officials believe al Qaeda "likely maintained an interest since at least February 2010 in conducting large attacks in the Homeland timed to coincide with symbolic dates, to include the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks," the document said.

Bin Laden's death and the "removal" of senior al Qaeda figures since then could add to the organization's desire to stage an attack on a symbolic date such as September 11, the bulletin said.

In Washington, local officials said the city has a robust plan in place and has been on heightened alert since September 1.

"I want to urge all of our citizens ... to remain calm and let our law enforcement professionals do their job. At the same time, we ask people to remain vigilant," Mayor Vincent Gray said. "If you see something, say something."
Unattended vehicles around key infrastructure will be towed, Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Federal officials said they were taking the threat seriously, while trying to temper the news by saying such threats are commonplace in connection with key dates.
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said specific details were revealed to lawmakers about the threat. "Many agencies are looking at this from every possible angle," he said.

But it is not known yet if the threat is real, he said, adding, "I would tell people now to go about their lives. There's no need to panic."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters Thursday that intelligence officials had picked up "lots of chatter" on jihadi websites and elsewhere about the impending 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks "and we're taking it all seriously," but nothing yet that warranted issuing a threat advisory.
Nonetheless, she said, the department will be at a heightened level of readiness as the nation commemorates the anniversary, "staffing up" the Federal Air Marshal Service and other agencies.

Update: Terrorist bomb plot credible threat


UPDATE FOX NEWS: WASHINGTON – U.S. officials are urging Americans to go about their business over the Sept. 11 weekend, but to be alert after federal authorities sent out a warning late Thursday of a "specific, credible" threat targeting New York and Washington.

U.S. intelligence officials told Fox News that the threat is specific to car bombs at bridges and tunnels. Officials have warned about the possibility of individuals already being in the United States and sources told Fox News that they are on the lookout for two or three possible suspects.
Related Video

Vice President Joe Biden on Friday confirmed a tip from a credible source, but said "there's no certitude" that anyone had traveled into the U.S. for a bomb plot.
"The thing we are all most worried about is what they call a 'lone ranger,' a lone actor, not some extremely complicated plan like it took to take down the World Trade towers," said Biden, who appeared on three morning news shows.
President Obama was first briefed Thursday morning about the threat, and was updated through the day, source told Fox News. Officials were planning on providing another briefing to the president on Friday.

The White House issued a statement saying the threat was specific and credible, but also "unconfirmed."

“The president directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to this credible but unconfirmed information," a White House official told Fox News.

Law enforcement officials already have been on alert for any potential threats timed to the commemorative events marking 10 years since the Sept. 11, terror attacks, but intelligence on the threat identified Thursday was described by one official as noteworthy for seeming "more than aspirational."
Another senior U.S. official with knowledge of the threat said it was "specific enough to elicit worry."

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security were drafting a bulletin Thursday night to send to local law enforcement across the country.
"We have a duty to warn,” the senior U.S. official said.
New York and Washington, D.C., law enforcement were taking extra steps to maintain vigilance in the face of the new alerts.

Sgt. Kim Schneider, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, said people on the Capitol Grounds or in the area of the U.S. Capitol will notice "visible strategic security enhancements including more officers on patrol (uniformed and undercover), more police cruisers in the field, and enhanced deployments of our specialty units --" such as K9, bomb squad, Hazmat, and SWAT.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo advised New Yorkers should go about their business and said the city's planned observance on Sunday will go on as scheduled.

"All New Yorkers should be cautious and aware as we prepare to commemorate the 9/11 anniversary," Cuomo said in a statement. "However, there is no reason to panic or allow our spirit of freedom to be dampened as we get ready to celebrate the opening of the Ground Zero site this weekend."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the New York police will be taking additional precautions in response to the terror threat, including increasing its patrol by a third, setting up vehicle checkpoints and working closely with the FBI to gain any additional intelligence.

In Washington, police are working 12-hour shifts, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier said unattended cars parked in unusual locations risked being towed.
Details provided to Fox News suggested that chatter had indicated the possible suspects were tied to Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the successor to al Qaeda's Usama bin Laden after U.S. SEALs took out bin Laden in the spring in Abbottabad, Pakistan. U.S. forces found several items in bin Laden's compound suggesting aspirational plans for an attack timed to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary. Authorities have received a "general description" of two or three possible suspects but don't necessarily have names, one source said.

The person who provided the intelligence is known to the U.S. intelligence community and "has a track record," one source said.

U.S. officials had been saying for days that there is no known credible threat related to the 10th Sept. 11 since the attacks. But when asked Thursday by reporters whether that’s still the case, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seemed to hesitate.

"It is still the case that we don't have something that would reach that standard, but we still have lots of chatter out there. And we take every bit of that seriously and track it down," Napolitano said. "The date is important because it's 9/11. But as I said, in the intel world there's lots of chatter and we're taking it all seriously.
"Should there be something that rises to the level where I have to issue a threat advisory, we will issue a threat advisory."

One source emphasized that authorities found themselves in a similar scenario on the eve of Obama's inauguration in January 2009, when intelligence suggested a specific threat against the inaugural events. Federal authorities reacted swiftly, but in the end the intelligence turned out to be bogus.

Washington (CNN) -- U.S. officials have "specific, credible but unconfirmed" information about a potential al Qaeda threat against the United States coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We have received credible information very recently about a possible plot directed at the homeland that seems to be focused on New York and Washington, D.C.," a senior administration official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr Thursday.

The official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals, including a U.S. citizen. U.S. officials believed the threat was a vehicle laden with explosives, but "the intelligence picture is not completely formed," the official said. "Not enough is known about the potential operatives and their plotting."

The threat is believed to entail a vehicle bomb, but "we cannot rule out other means," a U.S. official said.

A senior law enforcement official involved in briefings about the matter told CNN Justice Department Producer Terry Frieden that his best information is that the three individuals had not yet entered the United States.

The information came in around noon Wednesday, one official said.
A senior federal law enforcement official intimately involved in counterterrorism efforts told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King authorities "aren't sure if this is or real or just chatter."
The official confirmed the threat was vehicle-related as did a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI and Homeland Security that CNN obtained from a government official.

And while this specific threat report indicated that al Qaeda may be considering an attack using a car or truck bomb, the bulletin also confirmed that other methods could be used, including attacks with small-arms, homemade explosive devices, and poisons.

Al Qaeda would probably provide its operatives with enough autonomy to select the particular target and method of attack, the bulletin says.

The bulletin, which is issued to federal, state and local authorities, guides and cautions law enforcement on how to respond to potential threats.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Thursday night that while additional police will be deployed around the city, "There's no reason for any of the rest of us to change ... our daily routines."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to be cautious, but said "there is no reason to panic."
Friday morning, police officers were seen stopping and searching box trucks as they approached the George Washington Bridge, which links New Jersey with New York City.
In addition to the September terrorist attacks, New York was the scene of a botched Times Square car bombing in May 2010 by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who was sentenced to life in prison in October.

In Washington, local officials said the city has a robust plan in place and has been on heightened alert since September 1.

"I want to urge all of our citizens ... to remain calm and let our law enforcement professionals do their job. At the same time, we ask people to remain vigilant," Mayor Vincent Gray said. "If you see something, say something."
Unattended vehicles around key infrastructure will be towed, Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Federal officials said they were taking the threat seriously, while evidently trying to temper the news by saying such threats are commonplace during key events.

"It's accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information," said Matthew Chandler, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. "As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days. Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus, other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots under way.

"Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously, and we have taken, and will continue to take, all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise. We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend," Chandler said in a prepared statement.

A Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on background, said, "We will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture in the coming days and beyond. This may include an increased law enforcement presence at airports and other transit hubs, land and sea ports of entry, federal buildings, and other high-profile and critical infrastructure locations."

The information originated from the tribal border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan, a federal official told CNN producer Mike Ahlers.

Asadullah Khalid, Afghanistan's minister of borders and tribal affairs, told CNN Friday that there is no recent intelligence to suggest a possible attack on the United States.
Another source gave CNN conflicting information about possible details of the threat.
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said very specific details were made known to lawmakers about the threat. "Many agencies are looking at this from every possible angle," he said.

But it is not known yet if the threat is real, he said, adding, "I would tell people now to go about their lives. There's no need to panic."

A senior administration official with firsthand knowledge told CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend that although there is "specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information," there are a lot of questions about this information -- "weird things."

A federal law enforcement official told CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti that the threat appears to go beyond intelligence gathered from Osama bin Laden's compound after he was killed by Navy SEALs. That information talked about aspirations to carry out an attack on U.S. interests on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"The president was briefed," a senior administration official said. "He directed that the intelligence community and the administration take all necessary steps to ensure vigilance."
Earlier Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that intelligence officials had picked up "lots of chatter" on jihadi websites and elsewhere about the impending 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks "and we're taking it all seriously," but nothing yet that warranted issuing a threat advisory.

Nonetheless, the department will be at a heightened level of readiness as the nation commemorates the anniversary, "staffing up" the Federal Air Marshals Service and other agencies, she said.
Napolitano said it is not uncommon to see increased chatter before major events. "We know it's an iconic day to al Qaeda, in part because of what was found at the (Osama bin Laden) compound. So we are preparing accordingly," she said.

"I don't want to give those (details) out because I don't want to tell the bad guys exactly what we're doing," Napolitano said. "But I think it's fair to say that in addition to asking citizens to be vigilant and so forth, that we have ourselves leaned forward and have made sure that we are doing all that we can from the DHS perspective."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breaking: CIA uncovers credible terrorist plot



UPDATE: Three individuals have entered the United State with intent to launch a terrorist attack against Washington, D.C., or New York City, U.S. intelligence officials announced Thursday.

Officials say at least three individuals are being sought. One of the suspects is believed to be an American citizen. They are suspected of entering the country in August.

Intelligence officials believe the suspects entered the country with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack around the 10-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The information on the plot was "very specific," said one official.

According to a White House official: "The President was briefed on this specific threat information this morning and has been updated on it throughout the day. The United States government has already significantly enhanced its security posture in advance of the 9/11 anniversary to protect the country against possible terrorist threats. Nevertheless, the President directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to this credible but unconfirmed information."

One of the intelligence and law enforcement officials that ABC News spoke to said that one of the individuals may be a U.S. citizen and a second official said that possibly two of the individuals may have had U.S. documentation -- whether green cards or passports was unclear.

Authorities were searching for at least two rental trucks Thursday evening, a Penske and a Budget, in the country, but did not specify where or if that search was connected to the plot. A short time later both trucks were located. They appeared not to be connected to those being sought.

As news of the information became public, authorities began weighing whether to raise the national threat level.

The suspected terrorists are believed to have embarked on their journey to the U.S. from Afghanistan or Pakistan, according to two senior officials. One official said the route may have taken them through at least one other country, possibly Iran. Another news organization reported that they embarked from "the Pakistan area."

In a statement, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler said, "As we know from the intelligence gathered from the Osama bin Laden raid, al Qaeda has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11. In this instance, it's accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information."

"As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days," said Chandler. "Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus, other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots underway. Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously, and we have taken, and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise. We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference Thursday night. He stated the threat was "credible, but not corroborated."

"Over the next few days we should all keep our eyes wide open," said Bloomberg. But, he added "For 10 years we have not allowed terrorists to intimidate us."

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also spoke at the news conference. He said there would be increased traffic checkpoints as a result of the possible threat and as the 9/11 anniversary approaches.

The police response, Kelly said, would also include increased radiation and bomb detection, and increased monitoring of tunnels, bridges, infrastructure, city landmarks and government buildings.

There will also be increased towing of illegally parked cars, Kelly said.

ORIGINAL POST:

ABC NEWS:
U.S. authorities are scrambling to sort through information that the CIA developed in the past 24 hours indicating that at least three individuals entered the U.S. in August by air with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack against Washington, D.C. or New York around the anniversary of 9/11, according to intelligence officials.

Officials say the alleged terror plot was initiated by new al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's successor, who had pledged to avenge bin Laden's death earlier this year in a U.S. raid.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials told ABC News that at least one of the individuals is a U.S. citizen and one official said that two of the individuals may have had U.S. documentation -- whether green cards or passports was unclear.

The threat was described as specific and credible by federal officials. "Al Qaeda has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries. In this instance it is accurate that there is credible, specific but unconfirmed information," said Janice Fedarcyk, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the New York office, at a Thursday evening press conference.

At a the same press conference, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said the NYPD was already on alert because the anniversary is seen by terrorists as an opportune time to strike, and would be deploying additional resources around the city. He also said that the threat was credible and had to be taken seriously, though "it has not been corroborated."

"We do live in a world where we must take these threats seriously and we certainly will," said Bloomberg.

As news of the information became public, authorities began weighing whether to raise the national threat level. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have sent a bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the country warning them of the potential plot. The bulletin notes that al Qaeda might seek revenge for the death of bin Laden and other key figures on a symbolic date like the anniversary of 9/11.

Although authorities said they had not yet identified the suspects, they are looking at multiple names of individuals who entered the U.S. after mid-August. The operatives are believed to have embarked on their journey to the U.S. from the tribal areas of Pakistan, according to two senior officials. One official said the route may have taken them through Dubai.

The information on the plot was "very specific " said one official, adding " It seems like the information has been worked for a while." A second and third official confirmed the specifics of the possible plot added that a declassified bulletin is expected to be issued shortly.

UPDATE: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told New Yorkers to carry on with their lives, adding that he planned to take the subway in the morning.

“There is no reason for any of the rest of us to change our daily routines,” Mr Bloomberg said.

“The best thing to do to fight terrorism is to refuse to be intimidated by it.”

New York police commissioner Ray Kelly said measures were already in place but in light of the information, police would be taking additional measures and increase its presence by a third.

He said the public could expect to see heavily armed police and bomb dogs in public places, and tunnels and bridges would be swept for bombs.

This includes police with "heavy weapons" stationed outside Manhattan.

“The public is likely to see and may be inconvenienced by vehicle checkpoints throughout the city,” Mr Kelly said.

He said people could expect to have their bags checked on subways and bomb dogs would be present across the city. Extra security would be in place at landmark locations, houses of worship and illegally parked cars would be towed away.

Guards will be most visibly deployed at Pennsylvania Station, Times Square and Grand Central stations.

Mr Bloomberg, who some accused of over-reacting as Hurricane Irene approached the city last week, took a much cooler approach to the apparent terror threat.

“We know that terrorists view the anniversary as an opportunity to strike again,” Mr Bloomberg. “Now the threat at this moment has not been corroborated. I want to stress that. It is credible, but it has not been corroborated.”

Ms Fedarcyk began her statement to the media by referring to certain information that had been culled from bin Laden’s compound. She said intelligence networks had come to expect an increase in reports on any 9/11 anniversary.

“Sometimes this reporting is credible, and warrants intense focus,” she said. “Other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots underway.”

She said that regardless, the information would be taken seriously.

Ms Fedarcyk said the law enforcement would in days ahead try to understand the threat, but said New York was acting out of diligence.

Pressed on what the specific threat was, Ms Fedarcyk would not elaborate but suggested people look at information already in the public domain after the raid on bin Laden’s compound, and to consider that terrorists considered anniversary dates as good opportunities.

None of the three spokespeople mentioned earlier reports that Washington DC, and other capital cities, had been part of the specific threat.

Terror 'chatter' in Pakistan raises fears

In that assessment, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement: "There is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information."

"We have taken, and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise.

"As we know from the intelligence gathered from the OBL (Osama bin Laden) raid, AQ (al Qaida) has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11."

The threat is believed to involve either New York City, Washington, DC, or both, and involves car bombs.

It is believed to have been picked up in monitoring of "chatter" from the tribal areas of Pakistan.

President orders counter-terror response

US President Barack Obama ordered counter-terrorism officials to boost their efforts as they probe the threat.

A White House official said Mr Obama "directed the counter-terrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to this credible but unconfirmed information''.

"The President was briefed on this specific threat information this morning and has been updated on it throughout the day,'' the official said.

"The United States government has already significantly enhanced its security posture in advance of the 9/11 anniversary to protect the country against possible terrorist threats."

Authorities said they had information on some possible suspects tied to al-Qaida, but not necessarily names.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security were drafting a bulletin today to send to local law enforcement across the country.

"We have a duty to warn," the senior US official said.

US officials have been saying for days that there is no known credible threat related to the anniversary. But when asked today whether that's still the case, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seemed to at first hesitate.

"It is still the case that we don't have something that would reach that standard, but we still have lots of chatter out there," she said.

"And we take every bit of that seriously and track it down ... The date is important because it's 9/11. But as I said, in the intel world there's lots of chatter and we're taking it all seriously. Should there be something that rises to the level where I have to issue a threat advisory, we will issue a threat advisory."

There were documents found inside Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that mentioned aspirations to strike on the tenth anniversary of the 2001 attacks.

The news comes after Obama revealed he "took a gamble" in giving the green light for the raid on bin Laden's hideout, with the mission nearly called off at the last minute.

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