Tag Archives: Bin Laden

Terror Chief Dubbed Russia’s Osama Bin Laden ‘Will Target Britons at Olympics’ Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

More ominous news for the coming Olympics. –AA

A secret intelligence report drawn up by Canadian counterterrorism agencies and shared with British intelligence warns that Doku Umarov, the leader of the Chechen jihadist group Imarat Kavkaz (IK), poses the greatest terror threat for next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Compiled by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the report states that Umarov–who is blamed for the two recent suicide bombings in Volgograd, Russia–has called for attacks on the “satanic games” and notes that the warlord “appears to have consolidated his leadership” over the IK. The extent to which the IK cells will follow his lead is not known, however, as many IK commanders who have been eliminated in Russia’s counterterrorism efforts have been replaced with younger, less experienced fighters. The report notes that British athletes and spectators will be targeted by Umarov at the Games. MI6, British intelligence has begun working closely with Russia’s security service to counter the threat to British citizens.

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More on al-Suri, from the National Journal

By Michael Hirsh

“I think al-Qaida’s capabilities for a strike into the United States are more dangerous and more numerous than before 9/11.” Congressman Mike Rogers

Ever since the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama and his senior lieutenants have been telling war-weary Americans that the end of the nation’s longest conflict is within sight. “Core al-Qaida is a shell of its former self,” Obama said in a speech in May. “This war, like all wars, must end.” That was the triumphal tone of last year’s reelection campaign, too.

The truth is much grimmer. Intelligence officials and terrorism experts today believe that the death of bin Laden and the decimation of the Qaida “core” in Pakistan only set the stage for a rebirth of al-Qaida as a global threat. Its tactics have morphed into something more insidious and increasingly dangerous as safe havens multiply in war-torn or failed states—at exactly the moment we are talking about curtailing the National Security Agency’s monitoring capability. And the jihadist who many terrorism experts believe is al-Qaida’s new strategic mastermind, Abu Musab al-Suri (a nom de guerre that means “the Syrian”), has a diametrically different approach that emphasizes quantity over quality. The red-haired, blue-eyed former mechanical engineer was born in Aleppo in 1958 as Mustafa Setmariam Nasar; he has lived in France and Spain. Al-Suri is believed to have helped plan the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 bombings in London—and has been called the “Clausewitz” of the new al-Qaida.

Whereas bin Laden preached big dramatic acts directed by him and senior Qaida leaders, al-Suri urges the creation of self-generating cells of lone terrorists or small groups in his 1,600-page Internet manifesto. They are to keep up attacks, like multiplying fleas on a dog that finds itself endlessly distracted—and ultimately dysfunctional. (A classic Western book on guerrilla warfare called The War of the Flea reportedly influenced al-Suri.) The attacks are to culminate, he hopes, in acts using weapons of mass destruction.

READ MORE HERE

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CNN: The Next Bin Laden?

Interesting piece with Cong. Rogers and Peter Bergen on the Syrian terrorist who might be the next bin Laden.

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November 16, 2013 · 11:01 am

National Post: Budget cuts could delay terrorism trial for Osama bin Laden son-in-law, chief al-Qaeda propagandist

NEW YORK — A judge said he found it “stunning” to hear Monday that federal budget woes could delay the start of a terrorism trial for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s comment came as he set deadlines for lawyers to submit pre-trial arguments regarding Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who pleaded not guilty last month to charges that he conspired to kill Americans in his role as al-Qaeda’s top propagandist after Sept. 11, 2001.

The charismatic al-Qaeda spokesman was shown in early October 2001, sitting with bin Laden and current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in what became a heavily watched propaganda video. Prosecutors say he had called on every Muslim to join the fight against the United States, declaring that “jihad is a duty.”

Ghaith, who was brought to the U.S. last month, was handcuffed as he was led into a courtroom on Monday. The handcuffs were taken off before he listened through headphones to an Arabic translator.

Kaplan said he was considering starting the trial as early as September, drawing protests from defence lawyers who said the 5.1 per cent across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration required all public defenders to be furloughed for more than five weeks by autumn.

The judge left open the possibility that the trial may not begin until next year.

Al-Jazeera / The Associated Press
Al-Jazeera / The Associated PressThis image made available by Al-Jazeera shows Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and spokesman

Defence lawyers said they expected to ask the judge to toss out a 22-page statement Abu Ghaith provided after his Feb. 28 arrest in Jordan.

They also said they were likely to seek a change of venue. The federal courthouse in lower Manhattan is located just blocks from the World Trade Center complex.

Efforts to change the location where a trial is held or to challenge post-arrest statements have been unsuccessful in previous terrorism trials in Manhattan.

The single notable exception occurred when the Obama administration announced it was going to conduct a civil trial in New York for Khalid Sheik Mohammad, who has claimed responsibility for the 9-11 attacks, and four others, only to return the cases to military tribunal proceedings amidst an uproar over security concerns.

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ESQUIRE: The Plight of the Man Who Killed Bin Laden

Published in the March 2013 issue

Phil Bronstein is the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and currently serves as executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. This piece was reported in cooperation with CIR.

The man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden sat in a wicker chair in my backyard, wondering how he was going to feed his wife and kids or pay for their medical care.

It was a mild spring day, April 2012, and our small group, including a few of his friends and family, was shielded from the sun by the patchwork shadows of maple trees. But the Shooter was sweating as he talked about his uncertain future, his plans to leave the Navy and SEAL Team 6.

He stood up several times with an apologetic gripe about the heat, leaving a perspiration stain on the seat-back cushion. He paced. I didn’t know him well enough then to tell whether a glass of his favorite single malt, Lagavulin, was making him less or more edgy.

We would end up intimately familiar with each other’s lives. We’d have dinners, lots of Scotch. He’s played with my kids and my dogs and been a hilarious, engaging gentleman around my wife.

In my yard, the Shooter told his story about joining the Navy at nineteen, after a girl broke his heart. To escape, he almost by accident found himself in a Navy recruiter’s office. “He asked me what I was going to do with my life. I told him I wanted to be a sniper.

“He said, ‘Hey, we have snipers.’

“I said, ‘Seriously, dude. You do not have snipers in the Navy.’ But he brought me into his office and it was a pretty sweet deal. I signed up on a whim.”

“That’s the reason Al Qaeda has been decimated,” he joked, “because she broke my fucking heart.”

I would come to know about the Shooter’s hundreds of combat missions, his twelve long-term SEAL-team deployments, his thirty-plus kills of enemy combatants, often eyeball to eyeball. And we would talk for hours about the mission to get bin Laden and about how, over the celebrated corpse in front of them on a tarp in a hangar in Jalalabad, he had given the magazine from his rifle with all but three lethally spent bullets left in it to the female CIA analyst whose dogged intel work and intuition led the fighters into that night.

When I was first around him, as he talked I would always try to imagine the Shooter geared up and a foot away from bin Laden, whose life ended in the next moment with three shots to the center of his forehead. But my mind insisted on rendering the picture like a bad Photoshop job — Mao’s head superimposed on the Yangtze, or tourists taking photos with cardboard presidents outside the White House.

Bin Laden was, after all, the man CIA director Leon Panetta called “the most infamous terrorist in our time,” who devoured inordinate amounts of our collective cultural imagery for more than a decade. The number-one celebrity of evil. And the man in my backyard blew his lights out.

ST6 in particular is an enterprise requiring extraordinary teamwork, combined with more kinds of support in the field than any other unit in the history of the U.S. military.

Similarly, NASA marshaled thousands of people to put a man on the moon, and history records that Neil Armstrong first set his foot there, not the equally talented Buzz Aldrin.

Enough people connected to the SEALs and the bin Laden mission have confirmed for me that the Shooter was the “number two” behind the raid’s point man going up the stairs to bin Laden’s third-floor residence, and that he is the one who rolled through the bedroom door solo and confronted the surprisingly tall terrorist pushing his youngest wife, Amal, in front of him through the pitch-black room. The Shooter had to raise his gun higher than he expected.

The point man is the only one besides the Shooter who could verify the kill shots firsthand, and he did just that to another SEAL I spoke with. But even the point man was not in the room then, having tackled two women into the hallway, a crucial and heroic decision given that everyone living in the house was presumed to be wearing a suicide vest.

But a series of confidential conversations, detailed descriptions of mission debriefs, and other evidence make it clear: The Shooter’s is the most definitive account of those crucial few seconds, and his account, corroborated by multiple sources, establishes him as the last man to see Osama bin Laden alive. Not in dispute is the fact that others have claimed that they shot bin Laden when he was already dead, and a number of team members apparently did just that.

What is much harder to understand is that a man with hundreds of successful war missions, one of the most decorated combat veterans of our age, who capped his career by terminating bin Laden, has no landing pad in civilian life.

Back in April, he and some of his SEAL Team 6 colleagues had formed the skeleton of a company to help them transition out of the service. In my yard, he showed everyone his business-card mock-ups. There was only a subtle inside joke reference to their team in the company name.

Unlike former SEAL Team 6 member Matt Bissonnette (No Easy Day), they do not rush to write books or step forward publicly, because that violates the code of the “quiet professional.” Someone suggested they might sell customized sunglasses and other accessories special operators often invent and use in the field. It strains credulity that for a commando team leader who never got a single one of his men hurt on a mission, sunglasses would be his best option. And it’s a simple truth that those who have been most exposed to harrowing danger for the longest time during our recent unending wars now find themselves adrift in civilian life, trying desperately to adjust, often scrambling just to make ends meet.

At the time, the Shooter’s uncle had reached out to an executive at Electronic Arts, hoping that the company might need help with video-game scenarios once the Shooter retired. But the uncle cannot mention his nephew’s distinguishing feature as the one who put down bin Laden.

Secrecy is a thick blanket over our Special Forces that inelegantly covers them, technically forever. The twenty-three SEALs who flew into Pakistan that night were directed by their command the day they got back stateside about acting and speaking as though it had never happened.

“Right now we are pretty stacked with consultants,” the video-game man responded. “Thirty active and recently retired guys” for one game: Medal of Honor Warfighter. In fact, seven active-duty Team 6 SEALs would later be punished for advising EA while still in the Navy and supposedly revealing classified information. (One retired SEAL, a participant in the bin Laden raid, was also involved.)

With the focus and precision he’s learned, the Shooter waits and watches for the right way to exit, and adapt. Despite his foggy future, his past is deeply impressive. This is a man who is very pleased about his record of service to his country and has earned the respect of his peers.

“He’s taken monumental risks,” says the Shooter’s dad, struggling to contain the frustration that roughs the edges of his deep pride in his son. “But he’s unable to reap any reward.”

It’s not that there isn’t one. The U.S. government put a $25 million bounty on bin Laden that no one is likely to collect. Certainly not the SEALs who went on the mission nor the support and intelligence experts who helped make it all possible. Technology is the key to success in this case more than people, Washington officials have said.

The Shooter doesn’t care about that. “I’m not religious, but I always felt I was put on the earth to do something specific. After that mission, I knew what it was.”

Others also knew, from the commander-in-chief on down. The bin Laden shooting was a staple of presidential-campaign brags. One big-budget movie, several books, and a whole drawerful of documentaries and TV films have fortified the brave images of the Shooter and his ST6 Red Squadron members.

There is commerce attached to the mission, and people are capitalizing. Just not the triggerman. While others collect, he is cautious and careful not to dishonor anyone. His manners come at his own expense.

“No one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job,” Barack Obama said last Veterans’ Day, “or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home.”

But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:

Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.

Since Abbottabad, he has trained his children to hide in their bathtub at the first sign of a problem as the safest, most fortified place in their house. His wife is familiar enough with the shotgun on their armoire to use it. She knows to sit on the bed, the weapon’s butt braced against the wall, and precisely what angle to shoot out through the bedroom door, if necessary. A knife is also on the dresser should she need a backup.

Then there is the “bolt” bag of clothes, food, and other provisions for the family meant to last them two weeks in hiding.

“Personally,” his wife told me recently, “I feel more threatened by a potential retaliatory terror attack on our community than I did eight years ago,” when her husband joined ST6.

When the White House identified SEAL Team 6 as those responsible, camera crews swarmed into their Virginia Beach neighborhood, taking shots of the SEALs’ homes.

After bin Laden’s face appeared on their TV in the days after the killing, the Shooter cautioned his older child not to mention the Al Qaeda leader’s name ever again “to anybody. It’s a bad name, a curse name.” His kid started referring to him instead as “Poopyface.” It’s a story he told affectionately on that April afternoon visit to my home.

He loves his kids and tears up only when he talks about saying goodbye to them before each and every deployment. “It’s so much easier when they’re asleep,” he says, “and I can just kiss them, wondering if this is the last time.” He’s thrilled to show video of his oldest in kick-boxing class. And he calls his wife “the perfect mother.”

In fact, the couple is officially separated, a common occurrence in ST6. SEAL marriages can be perilous. Husbands and fathers have been mostly away from their families since 9/11. But the Shooter and his wife continue to share a house on very friendly, even loving terms, largely to save money.

“We’re actually looking into changing my name,” the wife says. “Changing the kids’ names, taking my husband’s name off the house, paying off our cars. Essentially deleting him from our lives, but for safety reasons. We still love each other.”

When the family asked about any kind of government protection should the Shooter’s name come out, they were advised that they could go into a witness-protection-like program.

Just as soon as the Department of Defense creates one.

“They [SEAL command] told me they could get me a job driving a beer truck in Milwaukee” under an assumed identity. Like Mafia snitches, they would not be able to contact their families or friends. “We’d lose everything.”

“These guys have millions of dollars’ worth of knowledge and training in their heads,” says one of the group at my house, a former SEAL and mentor to the Shooter and others looking to make the transition out of what’s officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. “All sorts of executive function skills. That shouldn’t go to waste.”

The mentor himself took a familiar route — through Blackwater, then to the CIA, in both organizations as a paramilitary operator in Afghanistan.

Private security still seems like the smoothest job path, though many of these guys, including the Shooter, do not want to carry a gun ever again for professional use. The deaths of two contractors in Benghazi, both former SEALs the mentor knew, remind him that the battlefield risks do not go away.

By the time the Shooter visited me that first time in April, I had come to know more of the human face of what’s called Tier One Special Operations, in addition to the extraordinary skill and icy resolve. It is a privileged, consuming, and concerning look inside one of the most insular clubs on earth.

And I understood that he would face a world very different from the supportive one President Obama described at Arlington National Cemetery a few months before.

As I watched the Shooter navigate obstacles very different from the ones he faced so expertly in four war zones around the globe, I wondered: Is this how America treats its heroes? The ones President Obama called “the best of the best”? The ones Vice-President Biden called “the finest warriors in the history of the world”?

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My Response to a Post by Peter Bergen on Benghazi

Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst and the author of “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden — From 9/11 to Abbottabad,” an outstanding book. He’s also one of my favorite commentators on terrorism and is consistently on target. However, I took issue with his defense of the Obama administration on the opinion page of CNN.com. Here’s an excerpt from his piece: 

What is the Republican theory of the case against Rice? It appears to boil down to the idea that leading Democrats covered up the involvement of terrorists in some way connected to al Qaeda in the Benghazi attack during the run-up to the close presidential election because President Obama and others in his administration had for some time said that al Qaeda was close to strategic defeat.

 

Does this case make sense? First, you would have to accept that Obama, Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all knowingly deceived the American public about what had happened at the Benghazi consulate.

Read the whole piece at CNN.com HERE

In response, I offer the following:

Peter, you ignore the point that by creating a cause entirely out of whole cloth–namely, citing The Innocence of Muslims–the administration also provoked more unrest, protests, and riots in Libya and other Middle Eastern nations. The president in turn made unnecessary statements on national TV and before the UN decrying a video no one would have seen had they not created such a lie. And Ansar al-Sharia isn’t so stupid as to not know they would be immediate suspects especially when they were claiming responsibility.

I’ve not received a response.

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THE HUNT FOR KSM – Terry McDermott and Josh Meyer

Picked up The Hunt for KSM on my kindle yesterday and couldn’t put it down.  Halfway through it already and am looking forward to what’s still to come…Highly Recommended.  – AA

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Christopher Hitchens on Al Qaeda and the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 (Slate)

Simply Evil

By Christopher HitchensUpdated Monday, Sept. 5, 2011

The proper task of the “public intellectual” might be conceived as the responsibility to introduce complexity into the argument: the reminder that things are very infrequently as simple as they can be made to seem. But what I learned in a highly indelible manner from the events and arguments of September 2001 was this: Never, ever ignore the obvious either. To the government and most of the people of the United States, it seemed that the country on 9/11 had been attacked in a particularly odious way (air piracy used to maximize civilian casualties) by a particularly odious group (a secretive and homicidal gang: part multinational corporation, part crime family) that was sworn to a medieval cult of death, a racist hatred of Jews, a religious frenzy against Hindus, Christians, Shia Muslims, and “unbelievers,” and the restoration of a long-vanished and despotic empire. (MORE HERE on SLATE.COM)

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Latest from CNN on the 9/11 anniversary threat

U.S. officials said Thursday evening they have “specific, credible but unconfirmed” information about a 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.

The official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals, including a U.S. citizen, who may have entered the United States. 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.”

Another source gave CNN conflicting information about possible details of the threat.

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.

One official said the information came in around noon Wednesday.

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 government official told CNN that members of Congress were briefed by White House, intelligence and other officials Thursday about the threat.

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AP source: Specific, unconfirmed threat received

Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press / Sep 8, 2011 11:41 PM

Counterterrorism officials said Thursday they are investigating a credible but unconfirmed terror threat involving New York or Washington.

The threat was so specific, and coming at a time of already heightened security just days before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, that it could not be ignored, a counterterrorism official told The Associated Press. The official requested anonymity to discuss sensitive security information.

Officials would not tell the AP what specifically is being targeted in New York or Washington or the timing of a potential attack. A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said raising the terror alert is under consideration.

A law enforcement official in New York, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security information, described the threat as credible but declined to give details.

Information gleaned from Osama bin Laden’s compound in May indicated that al-Qaida had considered attacking the U.S. on the 10th anniversary and other important dates. Security has been enhanced around the country, including in New York and Washington, in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s anniversary.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the threat information Thursday morning and directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to the credible but unconfirmed information, a White House official said.

“There were very, very specific facts that were made known in this threat,’’ Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told CNN. “I would tell people right now to go about their lives. There’s no need to panic. We don’t know if this threat is real yet. It’s being tracked down.’’

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