Tag Archives: FBI

A Desparate Attempt to Rehabilitate Bulger’s Reputation

For what seems like the umpteenth time, J.W. Carney, the defense attorney for mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has presented the Court with a preposterous request.  This time, he is asking U.S. District Court Judge Diane Kasper to lift the gag order she has placed on both sides to prevent discussions with the press about strategy.  His request is based on Bulger’s need to “defend his rep­utation and provide the public with a fuller, fairer understanding of this historic trial.”

Yes, you read that right: Whitey Bulger wishes to defend his reputation.  What reputation? That of the most notorious gangster to roam the streets of Boston? That of a serial killer and extortionist?  I’m reminded of the case of notorious rapist-murderer Lenny Paradiso of East Boston, who sued a prosecutor for defamation of character. Paradiso’s reputation in the community was so poor that the court found him to be “libel proof.”  And Bulger made Paradiso look like a soprano in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

As lead prosecutor Brian T. Kelly has rightly pointed out, Bulger had the right to take the stand in his own defense in order to put on the record his version of events.  Surely there he could try to create a reputation out of whole cloth.

The only audience with which Carney and Bulger should be concerned is sitting just a few feet away from them, in the juror’s box. And that group is prohibited from following press reports.  Clearly, Carney’s confidence in his case is so low that he is resorting to trying to argue it before the reporters in a city that knows better than to believe Bulger is a misunderstood victim of government misconduct.

Carney’s illogical motions are showing the signs of desperation, which is understandable considering he is representing a homicidal madman (“alleged” intentionally omitted). -AA

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BREAKING: Fla. man fatally shot in marathon bombing probe (Boston Herald)

A 27-year-old Orlando, Fla., man was shot and killed by an FBI agent overnight while being questioned about the Boston Marathon bombing case, the bureau reports today.

The FBI in Florida confirmed to the Herald this morning that the suspect, now identified as Ibragim Todashev, was shot in Orlando by an agent “conducting official duties.” 

A friend of the slain man said the suspect was approached by federal agents in relation to the April 15 Boston Marathon twin bombings because he was a mixed martial arts fighter who may have known bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Orlando TV station WESH is reporting. CBS is also reporting the suspect was from Chechnya and may have been heading back to the lawless Russian region today.

Tsarnaev, killed in a wild shootout with police in Watertown just after midnight April 19, was also an MMA fighter and fellow Chechen who turned to terror. The FBI also questioned a friend of Tsarnaev’s in New Hampshire last week. That former Chechen rebel told the Herald he did not know of Tsarnaev’s bombing plot that killed three and wounded more than 260 people on Boylston Street the day of the race.

The FBI in Tampa told the Herald this morning they are investigating the fatal shooting in Orlando now, according to FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier.

“We are currently responding to a shooting incident involving an FBI special agent. The incident occurred in Orlando Florida,” Couvertier said via email. “The agent encountered the suspect while conducting official duties. The suspect is deceased. We do not have any further details at this time. We expect to have more information later this morning.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said the FBI agent acted on an imminent threat and shot the interview subject. The agent was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Orlando police also told the Herald the FBI is in charge of the fatal shooting at the Windhover Apartments.

It is not clear if the slain Orlando suspect was also friends with the bomber’s brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is now locked up in a Devens federal hospital prison accused of helping unleash a week of terror during the marathon.

According to public records, Todashev was arrested May 4 on a charge of aggravated battery by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and was free on a $3,500 bond. His attorney, who has an open request with the court demanding discovery in the felony case, was not immediately available for comment.

Todashev’s fight records show he was a lightweight who hadn’t stepped into the ring since July 27.

Developing …

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Photo of the Florida Brothers Plotting a Terror Attack on the US (CNN)

The Two Florida Brothers Plotting a Terror Attack on the US

Terror charges for two conspiring bomb plot

By Carol Cratty

Two Florida brothers originally from Pakistan were indicted Friday, accused of plotting to use an explosive device and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Raees Alam Qazi, 20, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, were arrested by FBI agents in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday. The indictment does not provide specific details about what the men may have been targeting, saying only they conspired to use a “weapon of mass destruction” against people and property in the United States.

The indictment alleges that the Qazis engaged in their conspiracy from at least July 2011 until the time of their arrest. There is no mention of whether any explosives or other weapons were seized when the men were arrested.

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December 5, 2012 · 4:25 pm

How Google Searches Were Used to Find Millions in Stolen Art

(Bloomberg)

In mid-September, thieves robbed [Jeffrey Gundlach's] Santa Monica home in a quiet residential neighborhood, taking more than $10 million in artworks as well as his red 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S, wine and watches. The robbers also snatched two works by Gundlach’s late grandmother, Helen Fuchs, who was an amateur painter.

The money manager first offered $200,000 for tips leading to the recovery of his art and days later boosted the reward to $1.7 million. Santa Monica Police Department Sergeant Richard Lewis says the large sum of money was key to cracking the case, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted on.

In late September, two suspects were arrested and all of the stolen art was recovered.

The cerebral Gundlach also gave investigators a tip for solving the crime. He says that while he was at home in his family room, it dawned on him that thieves would do a Google search using his grandmother’s name to find out more about the paintings and how much they might be worth.

Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.

Gundlach says his Internet idea impressed investigators.

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Feds arrest four Southern Calif. men in terror plots

LOS ANGELES Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

“I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base,” Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. “If I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know,” he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, “Yeah, of course.”

“I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. … It makes me cry, and it gets like I’m, like, so angered with them,” Gojali said, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir’s wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI’s confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he “accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth” and that he believed the religion would help him “fit in and actually be able to fight for something that’s right,” according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Pair Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Sell a Stolen Matisse

(BBC) Two people have pleaded guilty to trying to sell a $3m (£1.8m) Henri Matisse painting stolen from a museum in Venezuela nearly 10 years ago.

The pair were caught in an FBI undercover operation at a Miami hotel in July.

Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, faces 10 years in jail for conspiracy to transport and sell stolen property, while Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, faces five years.

The pair will be sentenced in January.

The 1925 painting Odalisque in Red Pants had been hanging in the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art.

Replaced with forgery

The painting depicts a bare-chested woman sitting cross-legged on the floor wearing a pair of scarlet trousers.

In 2003 the museum discovered the original artwork had been replaced with a forgery after an art collector reported it was being offered for sale in New York.

A court heard Mr Guzman, from Miami, was negotiating the sale and transportation of the Matisse for approximately $740,000 (£458,000) from Mexico by Ms Ornelas Lazo.

The pair were arrested when the painting was handed over to undercover FBI agents posing as buyers in Miami.

The FBI’s National Stolen Art File database lists five other missing Matisse works, including a collection of 62 sketches.

His works were also among those stolen from a museum in Rotterdam in October. Thieves also stole paintings by Monet and Picasso.

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BREAKING: Terrorist Sought to Blow Up The Fed

NBC 4 New York has learned that federal authorities have arrested a man they say was plotting to attack the Federal Reserve building in Lower Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center site.

The man is in custody in New York. Sources tell NBC 4 New York that the suspect, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, lives in Jamaica, Queens.

Nafis, 21, was arrested Wednesday morning after he drove a van that he believed to be loaded with explosives from Long Island to Lower Manhattan. The man left the van near the Federal Reserve building and was then arrested by the FBI and NYPD.

Law enforcement officials stress that the plot was a sting operation monitored by the FBI and NYPD and the public was never at risk.  The explosives had been rendered inoperable, officials said.

“Two of the defendant’s ‘accomplices’ were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent,” said FBI Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan.

Sources say the suspect was acting alone in the plot against the Fed, which is located at 33 Liberty St., three and 1/2 blocks from ground zero.

He is expected in court later Wednesday.

“Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure, “Galligan said. “The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences.”

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My Op Ed in the New York Times on the Rotterdam Art Heist

October 16, 2012

No ‘Thomas Crown Affair

By ANTHONY M. AMORE

Boston

AFTER thieves broke into the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Monday night and stole a king’s ransom’s worth of paintings by the likes of Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Gauguin, the public and the press were shocked. As usual, a combination of master art thieves and faulty security was blamed. But this seductive scenario is often, in fact, far from the truth.

Most of us envision balaclava-clad cat burglars rappelling through skylights into museums and, like Hollywood characters, contorting their bodies around motion-detecting laser beams. Of course, few of us have valuable paintings on our walls, and even fewer have suffered the loss of a masterpiece. But in the real world, thieves who steal art are not debonair “Thomas Crown Affair” types. Instead, they are the same crooks who rob armored cars for cash, pharmacies for drugs and homes for jewelry. They are often opportunistic and almost always shortsighted.

Take the 1961 theft of Goya’s “Duke of Wellington” from the National Gallery in London. While all of Britain believed that the Goya was taken by cunning art thieves, it was actually taken by a retired man, Kempton Bunton, protesting BBC licensing costs. (He apparently stole the painting by entering the museum through a bathroom window.) In 1973, Carl Horsley was arrested for the theft of two Rembrandts from the Taft Museum in Cincinnati. Later, after serving a prison term, he was arrested for shoplifting a tube of toothpaste and some candy bars.

The illicit trade of stolen art and antiquities is serious, with losses as high as $6 billion a year, according to the F.B.I. There have been teams of thieves who have included art among their targets, like the ones who stole a Rembrandt self-portrait from the National Museum in Stockholm in 2000. (The only buyer they found was an undercover F.B.I. agent.) But in general, it is incredibly rare for a museum to fall victim to a “professional” art thief. The reason is simple: the vast majority of people who steal art do it once, because it is incredibly difficult and because it is nearly impossible to fence a stolen masterpiece.

The wide attention that a high-value art heist garners makes the stolen objects too recognizable to shop around. And there are very few people with enough cash to purchase a masterpiece — even for pennies on the dollar — that they can never show anyone. Once an art thief realizes this, he turns to other endeavors. Meanwhile, the stolen treasures lie dormant in a garage or crawl space until he figures out what to do with them.

It’s easy — and sometimes justified — to criticize security systems as flawed or inadequate, but securing a museum is uniquely challenging. Consider this: The goal of an art museum is to make priceless and rare art and antiquities accessible to the public. They are among society’s most egalitarian institutions. Contrast that with a jewelry store or a bank, where armed guards and imposing vaults are the norm. No one expects to be able to be alone with diamonds worth thousands, but museumgoers do expect an intimate experience with masterworks worth millions. Clearly, it is a daunting task to provide robust security without disturbing the aesthetics of the artwork and its environment.

So what is the remedy for the all-too-frequent scourge of art theft? Museums must build systems that cannot be compromised by a single error or failure. Thieves should have to overcome several layers of security before they can reach their target and several more on the way out. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, we took such an approach after the 1990 theft of several masterpieces — a crime that hasn’t been solved. This not only makes it more difficult to steal and get away with stolen art, but it gives the police precious extra minutes to respond to alarms, especially if, as in Rotterdam, they sound at night.

When art is stolen, local law enforcement should focus on the right sort of criminals rather than conjecture about multinational art theft rings. The key to finding these missing needles in the haystack is to make the haystack smaller; homing in on the most likely suspects quickly is essential to recovering the stolen item. The F.B.I.’ s Art Crime Team has gathered impressive intelligence on who steals art and what becomes of it. For instance, they’ve learned that upward of 90 percent of all museum thefts involve some form of inside information. So often the best approach is to look at active local robbery gangs, and to investigate connections between past and present employees and known criminals. Enhanced employee background checks and discreet observation of visitor behavior also help to deter thefts.

Confronting these realities is essential to preventing more pieces of our cultural heritage from being lost.

Anthony M. Amore is the director of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the author, with Tom Mashberg, of “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists.”

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CIA Infiltrated Al Qaeda Cell to Stop Bomb Threat

One of the chief complaints about the nation’s counter-terrorism program after 9/11 was the lack of HUMINT.  This is an important coup for the CIA. –AA

ABC NewsBy RICHARD ESPOSITO, RHONDA SCHWARTZ and BRIAN ROSS | ABC New

Seal of the C.I.A. - Central Intelligence Agen...

Seal of the C.I.A. – Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a stunning intelligence coup, a dangerous al Qaeda bomb cell in Yemen was successfully infiltrated by an inside source who secretly worked for the CIA and several other intelligence agencies, authorities revealed to ABC News.

The inside source is now “safely out of Yemen,” according to one international intelligence official, and was able to bring with him to Saudi Arabia the bomb al Qaeda thought was going to be detonated on a U.S.-bound aircraft.

The bomb, a refined version of the so-called underwear bomb used in a failed attempt on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day 2009, is now at the FBI crime laboratories in Quantico, Virginia.

U.S. officials said they felt confident throughout the operation that the bomb was not an actual threat because the inside source had “control.”

White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan reiterated on ABC News’ “Good Morning America” today that the bomb was not an “active threat,” which is why the public was told repeatedly by top administration officials, including Brennan, that there were no known active plots surrounding the anniversary of bin Laden’s death.

Brennan would not discuss the status of the would-be bomber, citing operational security, and declined to say whether the insider had himself been tapped to carry out the plot.

“The means that we were able to get this device, we’re trying to make sure we protect, again, the equities that are involved with it,” he said.

READ: Top Counter-Terrorism Official: No Further Threat From Bomb or Attempted Bomber

Brennan also said he could not say whether there were other bombers still at large.

“You never know what you don’t know,” Brennan said. “I think people getting on a plane today should feel confident their intelligence services are working day in and day out to stop these IEDs [improvised explosive devices] from getting anywhere near a plane, but also I think when they go through the security measures at airports, they understand why they’re in place.”

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Breaking: Iran Denies Role in Assassination Plot

(AP) TEHRAN, Iran — Iran is rejecting U.S. claims that Iran was involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington.

IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, calls the accusations by the U.S. Justice Department as “America’s new propaganda scenario” against Iran, without elaborating.

The Justice Department accuses agents of the Iranian government of involvement in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, with help from a suspected member of a Mexican drug cartel.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday the U.S. would hold Iran accountable. Two people, one of them a member of Iran’s special operations unit known as the Quds Force, were charged in New York federal court.

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