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Probe Shows Terror Risk At Mexico and Canada Borders

(AFP) A terrorist wanting to smuggle radioactive material from Canada into the United States probably would find it easy to do, a new report from congressional investigators said.

Government investigators were able to cross from Canada into the United States carrying a duffle bag with

contents that looked like radioactive material and never encountered a law enforcement official, according to a report released Thursday by investigators from the Government Accountability Office.

“Our work clearly shows substantial vulnerabilities in the northern border to terrorist or criminals entering the United States undetected,” the GAO’s Greg Kutz testified Thursday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the topic.

– Unmanned points make for easy border crossings, report says – Three times agents crossed border with fake radioactive material – Nearly 1,000 agents on northern border, 12,000 on U.S.-Mexican border

The Story

Congressional investigators looking at unmonitored US borders said Thursday they were able to freely cross into the United States from Canada carrying simulated radioactive material.

Canada’s government and US lawmakers expressed concern after the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US Congress’s investigative branch, released a report on security vulnerabilities at unmonitored and unmanned Canada and Mexico border crossing.

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, US lawmakers have called for a reinforcement of the US borders, especially its southern frontier with Mexico, to prevent potential terrorists from entering the United States.

“Frankly, it’s hard to believe that there has been so little progress in plugging these gaping security holes since 9/11,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the report.

The Canadian government said it was committed to enforcing border security and would continue to work closely with US authorities to prevent terrorists from crossing the border.

“Obviously we have to be concerned,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in Toronto

“We work hand in glove with the American authorities dealing with any kinds of threat or potential threats,” he said, adding that Canada was adding more border guards. “So we’re doing our bit.”

GAO investigators tested border security at four unmanned or unmonitored locations in four northern US states and at three locations along the border with Mexico.

They were able to smuggle a red duffel bag with simulated radioactive material into three US states from Canada.

In one instance, an “alert citizen” tipped off the US Border Patrol about suspicious activity, but the officers never found the rental car used by the GAO investigators who carried the bag, the report said.

The investigators did not cross the border at the fourth US-Canada location. But border patrol agents never showed up when they were taking pictures of the area, an activity that border authorities said was not grounds for an investigation, the GAO said.

At the US-Mexico border, the investigators did not attempt to smuggle simulated radioactive material for unspecified “safety considerations,” but they found potential vulnerabilities, the report said.

In one US-Mexico border location, an investigator crossed into and out of Mexico, climbing over a four-foot (1.2-meter) high fence built to stop vehicles, but law enforcement never appeared, the report said.

“The possibility that terrorists and criminals might exploit border vulnerabilities and enter the United States poses a serious security risk, especially if they were to bring radioactive material or other contraband with them,” the GAO said.

US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald Colburn told the Senate Finance Committee that his agency agrees with the GAO’s findings.

“The border is not as secure as it needs to be, in my opinion,” Colburn said, adding that the agency’s ability to secure the border will increase “significantly” in coming months and years as more resources become available.

He said 6,000 extra border patrol agents are being hired between 2007-2008, and that the agency is hoping to hire 1,700 more in 2009.

Watch CNN Video

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Update – Goose Creek Terror Case Admission

(NTARC) In a 12-minute video posted on YouTube, an Egyptian man wearing a white shirt, khaki pants and rubber gloves explains in Arabic how to turn a toy boat into a bomb.

His name is Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, and last month he was arrested in Goose Creek after authorities found four PVC pipes containing a mixture of potassium nitrate, kitty litter and sugar in his car’s trunk.

Mohamed told FBI agents he made the video to teach “those persons in Arabic countries to defend themselves against the infidels invading their countries,” according to federal court documents released late Tuesday.

Specifically, he told the FBI “the technology which he demonstrated in the tape was to be used against those who fought for the United States.”

and then there was the conversation in the back of the patrol car…

In the back of the patrol car on the way to jail on charges of possession of an explosive device, the two whispered in their native Arabic while a hidden recorder taped their conversation, according to court documents:

“Did you tell them there is something in them?” Mohamed asked, an apparent reference to the PVC pipes.

“Water,” Megahed said.

“Water! Right? The black water is in the Pepsi.”

A few seconds pass in silence. Mohamed speaks again.

“Did you tell them about the benzene (gasoline)?”

“I have nothing to do with it. I do the fireworks and so… so… so… that is it.”

But the pipes weren’t fireworks.

An examination by the FBI’s explosives unit found the materials in the PVC pipes fit the legal definition of an “explosive.”

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Alabama City Reopening Fallout Shelters

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) – In an age of al-Qaida, sleeper cells and the threat of nuclear terrorism, Huntsville is dusting off its Cold War manual to create the nation’s most ambitious fallout-shelter plan, featuring an abandoned mine big enough for 20,000 people to take cover underground.

Others would hunker down in college dorms, churches, libraries and research halls that planners hope will bring the community’s shelter capacity to 300,000, or space for every man, woman and child in Huntsville and the surrounding county.

Emergency planners in Huntsville – an out-of-the-way city best known as the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center – say the idea makes sense because radioactive fallout could be scattered for hundreds of miles if terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb.

“If Huntsville is in the blast zone, there’s not much we can do. But if it’s just fallout … shelters would absorb 90 percent of the radiation,” said longtime emergency management planner Kirk Paradise, whose Cold War expertise with fallout shelters led local leaders to renew Huntsville’s program.

Huntsville’s project, developed using $70,000 from a Homeland Security grant, goes against the grain because the United States essentially scrapped its national plan for fallout shelters after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Congress cut off funding and the government published its last list of approved shelters at the end of 1992.

After Sept. 11, Homeland Security created a metropolitan protection program that includes nuclear-attack preparation and mass shelters. But no other city has taken the idea as far as Huntsville has, officials said.

Many cities advise residents to stay at home and seal up a room with plastic and duct tape during a biological, chemical or nuclear attack. Huntsville does too, in certain cases.

Local officials agree the “shelter-in-place” method would be best for a “dirty bomb” that scattered nuclear contamination through conventional explosives. But they say full-fledged shelters would be needed to protect from the fallout of a nuclear bomb.

Program leaders recently briefed members of Congress, including Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who called the shelter plan an example of the “all-hazards” approach needed for emergency preparedness.

“Al-Qaida, we know, is interested in a nuclear capability. It’s our nation’s fear that a nuclear weapon could get into terrorists’ hands,” Dent said.

As fallout shelters go, the Three Caves Quarry just outside downtown offers the kind of protection that would make Dr. Strangelove proud, with space for an arena-size crowd of some 20,000 people.

Last mined in the early ’50s, the limestone quarry is dug 300 yards into the side of the mountain, with ceilings as high as 60 feet and 10 acres of floor space covered with jagged rocks. Jet-black in places with a year-round temperature of about 60 degrees, it has a colony of bats living in its highest reaches and baby stalactites hanging from the ceiling.

“It would be a little trying, but it’s better than the alternative,” said Andy Prewett, a manager with The Land Trust of Huntsville and North Alabama, a nonprofit preservation group that owns the mine and is making it available for free.

In all, the Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency has identified 105 places that can be used as fallout shelters for about 210,000 people. They are still looking for about 50 more shelters that would hold an additional 100,000 people.

While officials have yet to launch a campaign to inform people of the shelters, a local access TV channel showed a video about the program, which also is explained on a county Web site.

If a bomb went off tomorrow, Paradise said, officials would tell people where to find shelter through emergency alerts on TV and radio stations. “We’re pretty much ready to go because we have a list of shelters,” he said.

Most of the shelters would offer more comfort than the abandoned mine, such as buildings at the University of Alabama in Huntsville that would house 37,643. A single research hall could hold more than 8,100.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Alexandra Kirin said of Huntsville’s wide-ranging plan: “We’re not aware of any other cities that are doing that.”

Plans call for staying inside for as long as two weeks after a bomb blast, though shelters might be needed for only a few hours in a less dire emergency.

Unlike the fallout shelters set up during the Cold War, the new ones will not be stocked with water, food or other supplies. For survivors of a nuclear attack, it would be strictly “BYOE” – bring your own everything. Just throw down a sleeping bag on the courthouse floor – or move some of the rocks on the mine floor – and make yourself at home.

“We do not guarantee them comfort, just protection,” said Paradise, who is coordinating the shelter plans for the local emergency management agency.

Convenience store owner Tandi Prince said she cannot imagine living in the cavern after a bombing.

“That would probably not be very fun,” she said.

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

Iran Strengthens Ties With South America; Ahmadinejad Cements Ties With Venezuela President Chavez, Declares ‘No One Can Defeat Us’

(AP) The leaders of Iran and Venezuela cemented an alliance aimed at countering the United States while the Iranian president reached out to a new ally in Bolivia and declared that together, “no one can defeat us.”

After being vilified during his U.N. visit this week, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled on to friendlier territory Thursday, first stopping in Bolivia where he pledged $1 billion in investment and then visiting Venezuela to meet President Hugo Chavez.

“Together we are surely growing stronger, and in truth no one can defeat us,” the Iranian leader said through an interpreter. Apparently referring to the U.S., he said, “Imperialism has no other option: Respect the peoples (of the world) or accept defeat.”

Chavez greeted the Iranian leader warmly on a red carpet in front of the presidential palace, where they both stood before microphones and let loose with rhetoric challenging Washington.

“We will continue resisting to the end in the face of imperialism,” Ahmadinejad said. “And the age of imperialism has ended.”

Chavez embraced the Iranian leader, calling him “one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters” and “one of the great fighters for true peace.”

In his defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly this week, Ahmadinejad rebuked “arrogant powers” seeking to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Chavez also strongly defends Iran’s nuclear research, insisting it is for peaceful energy uses despite U.S. charges it is aimed at making nuclear weapons. The Venezuelan leader also says his country plans to eventually develop a nuclear energy program.

Chavez said he was proud of Ahmadinejad’s courage while under hostile questioning at New York’s Columbia University. “An imperial spokesman tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant. You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary.”

In Bolivia, the Iranian leader pledged investment over the next five years to help the poor Andean nation tap its vast natural gas reserves, extract minerals, generate more electricity and fund agricultural and construction projects.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, who joins Chavez as one of Iran’s key allies, called Ahmadinejad’s visit historic as the two nations established diplomatic relations for the first time.

Morales brushed off concerns about close ties to a country that the Bush administration says is a sponsor of terrorism, declaring that the “international community can rest assured that Bolivia’s foreign policy is dedicated to peace with equality and social justice.”

Ahmadinejad’s trip underscored his growing ties to Latin American nations, including Nicaragua and Ecuador, even as the U.S. tries to isolate him internationally.

The closer relationship is viewed with alarm by the opposition in Venezuela and Bolivia, and by Washington. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, a Florida Republican, said they remind him “of the relationship that Fidel Castro had with Russia.” He urged Washington to reach out more to a region analysts say it has largely ignored since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Toward that aim, a bipartisan bill is being introduced in Congress on Friday that would establish a 10-year, $2.5 billion program aimed at reducing poverty and expanding the middle class in Latin America. It would require recipient countries to contribute and encourage matching funds from businesses and non-governmental organizations.

The program would bring more stability in the long run and help the United States “re-establish leadership in the hemisphere” by increasing development assistance by more than a third, said bill co-sponsor Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat.

Chavez’s government, for its part, has promised more than $8.8 billion in aid, financing and energy funding to the region this year.

Relations between Iran and Venezuela, meanwhile, have grown very close. Since 2001, they have signed trade agreements worth more than $20 billion in potential investment, according to Iran’s official news agency, IRNA.

They have teamed up to begin producing cars, tractors and plastic goods, and signed an agreement to help Venezuela build public housing. Iran Air began flights between Tehran and Caracas, with a stopover in Syria, earlier this year.

Venezuelan Jewish leaders objected to the presence of Ahmadinejad, who has called for the end of Israel and questioned the history of the Holocaust.

“We raise our voice to condemn these statements by the Iranian leader which incite hatred, becoming a threat to world peace,” the Venezuelan Confederation of Israeli Associations said in a statement. The country is home to a large Jewish population, including Holocaust survivors.

It was Ahmadinejad’s third visit to Caracas.

Along with Nicaragua and Bolivia, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa also wants closer ties with Tehran, and Iran’s PressTV reported last month that Iran will for the first time open an embassy in Quito.

Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning contributed to this report from La Paz, Bolivia.

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 2 Comments

Disbarred, convicted lawyer for terrorists to give “ethics” lecture at Hofstra

(CFP) Lynne STEWART, the disbarred lawyer convicted of aiding terrorists will be giving a lecture on legal ethics at an upcoming law school ethics conference at Hofstra University. STEWART, who was found guilty of conspiring with terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the Muslim terrorist convicted in 1996 of plots to bomb landmarks in and around New York City, is scheduled to give a lecture on October 16 at Hofstra Law School’s “Legal Ethics: Lawyering on the Edge” at the Hempsted, NY University.

After a nine-month trial and nearly 2 weeks of jury deliberations, Stewart was convicted on 10 February 2005 of providing material support to terrorists. For her role in facilitating illegal communications between imprisoned Islamic terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and the Egyptian Islamic Group Gamaat al Islamia, an Islamic terrorist group allied with al Qaeda, STEWART was sentenced to a mere 28 months in prison. She is currently free on bail pending appeal.

“Lynne Stewart’s sentencing is our crystal ball for the return of September 10th America.” — Andrew McCarthy

September 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

School caretaker ‘found with letter bomb factory in his bedroom’

(Daily Mail) A primary school caretaker who terrorised a string of companies with letterbombs did it to protest against “an overbearing and over-intrusive surveillance obsessed society”, a court heard yesterday.

Miles Cooper, 27, left eight injured after sending bombs packed with shards of glass or a nail to firms with links to CCTV, DNA-testing, speed cameras and the London congestion charge.

Of the seven devices sent in January and February this year, five exploded before police could intercept them.

Oxford Crown Court heard that Cooper’s victims had been left with permanent hearing loss, shrapnel wounds and psychological problems.

Prosecutor John Price told the jury that police found a ‘bomb factory’ in Cooper’s bedroom at the home he shared with his mother and younger sister in Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Price said Cooper “didn’t really care who was hurt” by the “maliciously and indeed sadistically conceived” parcels, “so long as someone was”.

Cooper pleads not guilty to eight charges of causing injury with an explosive substance, two of using explosives with intent to disable, and counts of making and possessing explosives.

Michael Wolkind, defending, said: “It doesn’t provide Mr Cooper with a defence, but his motivation was to protest against an overbearing and over-intrusive surveillance obsessed society.”

He said it was up to the prosecution to prove Cooper intended to disable or injure.

The case continues.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

FBI Investigating Train Track ‘Sabotage’; FBI Investigating Suspected ‘Sabotage’ of Commuter Train Tracks in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether a section of commuter train tracks was sabotaged after Metra workers discovered a dozen railroad spikes missing in an area on Chicago’s South Side.

The spikes hold down metal plates that bind the rails to wooden ties underneath.

“If a sufficient number of spikes are removed in a contained location, there’s the potential for the rail to shift, which would lead to disastrous results and train derailment,” said Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Steve Kulm.

Metra discovered the missing spikes on Monday and notified police and federal authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which investigates threats to planes and trains.

The FBI said it was conducting a criminal investigation into “sabotage.” FBI spokesman Ross Rice said agents were checking for possible connections to a domestic violence case involving a Metra engineer.

The affected tracks carry three commuter lines, including the Metra Electric Line to University Park and Blue Island, with around 40,000 riders daily, and the South Shore Line to Michigan City and South Bend, Ind.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

St. Johns Queens College Campus – Man Wearing Mask and Carrying Rifle In Custody

(WNBC) NEW YORK — A day after allegedly marching onto the St. John’s University Queens campus with a rifle and a mask, a freshman was undergoing psychiatric evaluations to determine if he’s competent to be arraigned.

Officials said Omesh Hiraman, 22, is a paranoid schizophrenic. Sources said Hiraman was wearing the mask to hide from who — in his own mind — is trying to “hurt him, who is giving him the pain.”

Meanwhile, students at St. John’s headed back to class on Thursday.

Hiraman was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of criminal possession of a loaded weapon, police said early Thursday.

Hiraman was wearing a rubber Halloween-type mask that had the lower part cut off. NYPD officials and witnesses first said it appeared to be a George Bush mask, but the suspect’s lawyer later said it was actually Fred Flintstone.

Less than 20 minutes after he was spotted, students across the university’s Queens campus were notified and told to stay indoors as officials searched for possible additional suspects.

No other suspects were found, no injuries were reported, and students and officials praised a new emergency response system that quickly dispatched e-mails, text message and telephone alerts about the incident.

Hiraman’s father called the incident “a misunderstanding,” and Hiraman’s lawyer, Anthony Colleluori, told the New York Post his client was “tired, he’s confused, and he’s scared.”

An e-mail dated June 21 indicates that Hiraman contacted New York City attorney Michael Paul about protocols a gun dealer must follow when selling a gun.

“In East Fishkill Dutchess County, New York what procedure does the gun shop owner follow when an individual is purchasing a rifle?” read the e-mail. “Do they have to notify the state, county or municipal government of the fact that the rifle was purchased and/or of the name of the purchaser.”

The e-mail continued:

“Please do not contact the gun shop in this area for the answer to my question as I have already contacted them and they do not seem to be very helpful.”

St. John’s, a Catholic school of about 20,000, put its new emergency alert system in place after the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, where a student killed 32 people and himself.

The Blacksburg, Va.-based university’s administration sent a mass e-mail to students about two hours after the first victims were shot in a dormitory. The e-mail, which warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious, went out about 20 minutes before the gunman opened fire again.

At St. John’s, the suspect was first captured on security cameras entering the Queens campus at about 2:20 p.m. Five minutes later, public safety officials called 911.

Ten minutes later, he was apprehended by a student cadet and unarmed campus security officers. Eight minutes after that, students were notified of the incident.

“They were on it,” Sophomore Irene Kontonicolaou, 19, who got a text message alert in a business law class, said of the law enforcement response. “They did a really good job.”

Students and faculty members must sign up for the electronic alerts. Campus safety spokesman Thomas Lawrence said he didn’t know how many have done so and hoped more would after Wednesday’s incident.

Freshman Jeffrey Antoine did, signing up for the system from his laptop after the incident.

“Anything could happen,” the 17-year-old said.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said it wasn’t clear why Hiraman came to the campus carrying a .50-caliber, single-shot rifle.

The rifle was loaded with one bullet, police said.

Hiraman’s father, Pat Hiraman, said his son had been acting differently and was under heavy medication since having back surgery, but “would never harm anyone.”

“Our son has always been a good boy and has never been in any sort of trouble,” the father said. “We trust that this will be cleared up as quickly as possible.”

Students, one of them a police cadet, first reported seeing an armed man at around 2:20 p.m., police said. He was carrying a plastic bag with the barrel of a .50-caliber rifle sticking out and was wearing the rubber mask, its mouth cut out, police said.

The cadet, Christopher Benson, later told reporters that he was sitting on a bench and speaking to his girlfriend on a cell phone when Hiraman walked quickly past him. He told his girlfriend he would call her back, saying, “A guy just walked past me with a gun. Let me check this out.”

Benson, 21, began following Hiraman, and when unarmed campus security officers approached minutes later and tried to grab the gun, “I just jumped right in,” he said. He and the officers subdued the man after a brief struggle, he said.

In a statement, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Benson as “a very observant and courageous cadet.”

Public safety officials conducted an extensive search of all school buildings and facilities, according to a school statement. Students were initially were told to stay inside their classrooms and buildings; they were allowed to go home around 5:30 p.m. Classes were canceled for the evening but were to resume Thursday.

Student Lina Rios was in the school’s gym with about 100 other people. She said she was impressed with the university’s response, which she said included updates about every 15 minutes inside the gym.

“We were all amazed how fast the cops were there and how fast everyone knew what was going on,” she said.

The university president, the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, said he was “very relieved and very grateful” that no one was hurt.

St. John’s has three residential campuses in the city. The Queens site is the school’s main campus.

• Associated Press Timeline Of Events:

• 2:20 p.m. — A man wearing a black hooded sweat shirt is seen on security cameras getting out of a livery taxi at the campus’ Gate 5 while carrying a rifle. He also is seen by several students.

• 2:21 p.m. — A phone call is made to public safety reporting a male with a mask and a stick.

• 2:24 p.m. — Another call is made to public safety reporting a man with a mask walking toward the law library.

• 2:25 p.m. — Public safety officials call 911.

• 2:30 p.m. — The man is apprehended by unarmed campus security officers and a student who is a police cadet.

• 2:38 p.m. — The first text message goes out from the university to students and faculty members notifying them of the incident and asking them to stay indoors.

• 2:46 p.m. — The second text message goes out to students and faculty members saying the man has been apprehended but they should remain indoors.

• 3:32 p.m. — The final text message to students and faculty members notifies them the man is in custody; students are told to remain where they are on campus.

• 5:30 p.m. — Students are let out of campus.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | 1 Comment

Suspected Dry Run At Indianapolis Airport – Inadvertant Mistake

(NTARC) A suspicious item found in a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport this morning caused a concourse of the airport to be closed for about an hour, delaying several flights, according to a report from the Indianapolis Airport Police.

An unidentified passenger reported the suspicious package, which appeared to be an improvised explosive device, after finding the item in a stack of gray plastic trays used to send personal belongings through the X-ray machine, the report stated.

Police shut down the checkpoint and adjoining concourse D from 5:10 to 6:20 a.m. A perimeter was set up and a bomb squad from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department rendered the device safe.

UPDATE: Security officials evacuated a concourse at the Indianapolis International Airport Wednesday after inactive explosives inadvertently left behind by a federal employee were found at a security checkpoint.

The items, including a vest with “inert training explosives,” were found in a tray on a conveyor belt at a security checkpoint leading into Concourse D, the Transportation Security Administration said.

TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding said airport police determined that the suspect items were “components used by TSA to train its officer workforce” and that passengers were never in danger.

“A TSA training officer had used the components for training purposes overnight and then inadvertently left them at the checkpoint,” Uselding said in a statement.

More on this story from (Little Green Footballs) Either a very elaborate prank, or a test of security at Indianapolis International Airport: Inactive explosives found at airport.

A suspicious item found in a security checkpoint at Indianapolis International Airport this morning caused a concourse of the airport to be closed for about an hour, delaying several flights, according to a report from the Indianapolis Airport Police.

An unidentified passenger reported the suspicious package, which appeared to be an improvised explosive device, after finding the item in a stack of gray plastic trays used to send personal belongings through the X-ray machine, the report stated.

Police shut down the checkpoint and adjoining concourse D from 5:10 to 6:20 a.m. A perimeter was set up and a bomb squad from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department rendered the device safe.

The suspected bomb appears to be a simulated explosive device, the report stated. The device included a battery, wires, a switch, and a plastic bag containing a modeling-clay-like substance labeled as a semtex imitation. Semtex is a plastic explosive often used in terrorist attacks.

According to the report, a second plastic bag also contained a fake explosive consisting of a small amount of a liquid labeled helix and a powder-filled tube. The bag was marked with a label from manufacturer S.E.T.D. Law Enforcement Training Center in Stamford, N.Y., the report stated.

Police called the manufacturer and were told that the company did manufacture the simulated helix but did not make the semtex imitation.

UPDATE at 9/26/07 11:18:34 am:

Here’s the explanation: Training supplies cause Indianapolis airport evacuation.

INDIANAPOLIS – Security officials evacuated a concourse at the Indianapolis International Airport Wednesday after inactive explosives inadvertently left behind by a federal employee were found at a security checkpoint.

The items, including a vest with “inert training explosives,” were found in a tray on a conveyor belt at a security checkpoint leading into Concourse D, the Transportation Security Administration said.

TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding said airport police determined that the suspect items were “components used by TSA to train its officer workforce” and that passengers were never in danger.

“A TSA training officer had used the components for training purposes overnight and then inadvertently left them at the checkpoint,” Uselding said in a statement.

And the level of casual incompetence this reveals is almost as disturbing as a real dry run.

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment

Bin Laden may have just escaped U.S. forces; August mission in Tora Bora almost snared ‘high value target’

(NBC News) A little more than a month ago, with the anniversary of Sept. 11 approaching and fears of a new al Qaeda attack rising, some U.S. intelligence and military analysts thought they had found one of the world’s two most wanted men just where they last saw them six years ago.

For three days and nights — between Aug. 14 and 16 — U.S. and Afghanistan forces pounded the mountain caves in Tora Bora, the same caves where Osama Bin Laden had hidden out and then fled in late 2001 after U.S. forces drove al Qaeda out of Afghanistan cities. Ultimately, however, U.S. forces failed to find Bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri, even though their attacks left dozens of al Qaeda and Taliban dead.

One of the officials interviewed by NBC News, a general officer, admitted Tuesday that it was “possible” Bin Laden was at Tora Bora, saying, in fact, “I still don’t know if he was there.”

Still, some in the special operations and intelligence community are telling NBC News that there was a lack of coordination particularly in the choice of support troops. But with intelligence limited on who was there, no one is willing to say that the lack of key units permitted Bin Laden or Zawahiri to escape.

When the operation began in early August there was no expectation that Bin Laden or Zawahiri would be there, say U.S. military and intelligence officials. Instead, there was intelligence of a pre-Ramadan gathering of al Qaeda including “leadership” in Tora Bora. Senior officials in the U.S. and Pakistan tell NBC News that planning for the attacks intensified around Aug. 10 once analysts suggested that either Bin Laden or Zawahiri may have be drawn to the conference at Tora Bora. (When U.S. forces attacked al Qaeda camps in August 1998, following the East Africa embassy bombings, Bin Laden was attending a pre-Ramadan conference of al Qaeda in the same general area of eastern Afghanistan).

While the intelligence did not provide “positively identification” that Bin Laden or Zawahiri were at the scene, there was enough other intelligence to suggest that one of the two men was there. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are not believed to have traveled together since mid-2003 for security reasons.

Another official said that intelligence analysts believed strongly that there was a high probability that “either HVT-1 or HVT-2 was there,” using U.S. intelligence descriptions — high value targets — for Bin Laden and Zawahiri. He added that while opinion inside the agency was divided, many believed it was Bin Laden rather than Zawahiri who was present. The reason: “They thought they spotted his security detail,” said the official, a large al Qaeda security detail — the kind of protection that would normally surround only Bin Laden, or Zawahiri.

Also, locals reported the presence of groups known to be part of Bin Laden’s security detail —Chechens, Uzbeks and other Arabs, men willing to die rather than surrender top al Qaeda officials.

The military operation included “several hundred” U.S. and Afghan ground forces, say officials. Elements from the 82nd Airborne blocked off escape routes through the mountains on the Afghanistan side of the border, while helicopters inserted U.S. Navy Seals at night. The Seals pinpointed enemy positions and called in air strikes; the 82nd came in and “mopped up.”

On the other side of the border, a senior Pakistani official says the U.S. military helped thousands of Pakistani forces — including their elite commando units — set up a blockade to sweep up any al Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan.

Any operation to take down Bin Laden or Zawahiri would have been formidable.

“He’s surrounded by the true believers,” reported Rick Francona, who worked with CIA and special ops teams in Iraq in the 1990s. “And they will fight to the death to protect him, they will probably even kill him before they allow him to be captured. So if you’re going to go in that area, you have to go in there with enough force that you think you can accomplish this mission successfully and not lose all of your guys in the process.”

One senior military official said Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace personally briefed the president on the specifics of the ongoing operation.

The operation closely parallels the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi last year. NBC News reported at the time that the U.S. military did not positively determine that Zarqawi was in the house that was bombed. Instead, they had surveillance on Zarqawi’s spiritual adviser who led them to the house, and the decision was made to take the shot because they didn’t want to miss the chance to get Zarqawi. One general predicts, “That’s the way we’ll get Bin Laden.” They may not have that positive ID, but there’ll be enough intelligence to prompt an air strike and they’ll find Bin Laden in the rubble.

What happened this time? Military officials admit there were unidentified “planning and coordination problems” even before it got to execution, “primarily between the operators and the generals who give the go-orders” added an intelligence official. A company of the 82nd Airborne was brought in since a Ranger team trained in special operations was not available. But the combination of the “dark side” — the SEALs — and the conventional — the 82nd Airborne — didn’t work. “They didn’t gel,” said the military official. There was “a lack of responsiveness to the intelligence and a lack of aggressiveness.”

Michael Sheehan, a former Army Special Operations colonel and counter terrorism ambassador, says he is not surprised.

“Our response is normally too big, too slow, too cumbersome and too risk adverse and those factors normally come from Washington,” said Sheehan.

“The operators normally want to go in much smaller, much more low profile in order to be able to get to the target without being identified and as those plans go up the chain of command they normally get much bigger and much more cumbersome.”

But the bigger part of the picture is the question of allocation of resources from Afghanistan to Iraq. All Delta Force and “dark side” Rangers were moved to Iraq, said a special operations officer involved in the Afghanistan operation. Left behind in Afghanistan were SEAL Team Six and some Rangers. But apparently in this case, not enough “dark side” were available. The 82nd, said a second special operations officer, “is a poor substitute … [it is] a blunder to use them on an op with dark side operators.”

September 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror | Leave a comment