• The Justice Department informed the Illinois congressional delegation that the White House was going ahead with consideration of the Thomson Correctional Center, located 150 miles west of Chicago, as home for some detainees from Guantanamo Bay; lawmakers opposing to moving terrorists to a U.S. prison blocked funding for refurbishing Thomson, but the administration says the Justice Department can purchase the prison and hold federal inmates in it

  • Faisal Shahzad, a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, said in court Monday that his failed car bomb plot was backed and financed by the Pakistan Taliban; the group, though, is not yet labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, unlike al Qaeda and its affiliates; lawmakers want to change that

  • Five young Americans from the Washington, D.C. area, captured in Pakistan last December, were convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 10 years in prison each; prosecutors said e-mail records and witness statements proved they were plotting terror attacks in Pakistan and conspired to wage war against nations allied with it, a reference to Afghanistan; one of the convicted Americans left behind a farewell video in the United States showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended

  • Many terrorist organizations also provide basic services such as education, health, and welfare to the people they say they represent; since the corrupt and ineffective central governments do not provide such services, militant organizations step in to fill the void; those who send money to these organizations or provide other help argue that they aim to support the humanitarian activities of the these organizations, not their terror campaigns; the U.S. Supreme Court says this is a distinction without a difference; there is also no violation of the First Amendment here: “independently advocating for a cause is different from the prohibited act of providing a service to a foreign terrorist organization,” the Court ruled

  • Explosives experts say there are many reasons for the string of bomb failures in recent attempts by would-be terrorists in the United States; among them: it is hard to get explosive materials in the United States; putting together a bomb is a complicated process; and these kinds of attacks require a team to get them off the ground

  • Nuclear matters

    Robert Kelley, an experienced former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), analyzed materials smuggled to the West by a scientists who defected from Myanmar, and wrote that the kind of nuclear research work Myanmar is doing leads to the inescapable conclusion that such work is “for nuclear weapons and not civilian use or nuclear power”

  • Shape of things to come

    New project aims to identify and assesses future threats posed by the abuse of evolving science and technology knowledge; examples could include the development of new infectious bacteria or viruses resistant to known medical treatments, or the invention of materials with camouflaging properties for covert activity

  • New study argues that Pakistan’s secret service, the ISI, directly funds and trains the Afghan Taliban, and provides its fighters with intelligence and logistical support; “Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude,” the report says; “There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign,” it said

  • Border security

    DHS has defined several countries — primarily China, but also Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan — as “special interest countries”; smuggling potential terrorists and citizens of special interest countries across the U.S. border is evolving into a billion dollar industry for Mexican drug cartels, posing a significant threat to the United States

  • Border security

    A 15-year old Mexican, Sergio Hernandez, was shot dead by a U.S. Border Patrol agent; the agent was on the U.S. side of the border, and Hernandez and his friends on the Mexican side; unnamed U.S. sources say Hernandez was a known ” juvenile smuggler,” and that in 2009 he was charged with alien smuggling; he was also on a “most wanted” list of juvenile smugglers compiled by U.S. authorities in the El Paso area; the Border Patrol says its agents came under “assaulted with rocks” by Hernandez and his friends; the Mexican government wants to know whether it was necessary to shoot a teen-ager dead for throwing rocks

  • Reinsurers would like to place more terrorism business, but the demand for stand-alone terrorism coverage is on the wane; the market could tighten if the Obama administration proceeds with its plan to scale back the federal government’s terrorism insurance backstop, which has been in place since 2002

  • Bringing matters to a head

    The Iranian Red Crescent has said it will send three aid ships to Gaza, plus an aid cargo plane to Egypt, as it joins the efforts to defy Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip; Iran’s leaders said they would send the Iranian navy to accompany the ships; an aid ship from Iran was prevented from reaching Gaza in 2008.

  • With the land borders of Gaza tightly controlled by Israel, Palestinian militants resort to trying to attack Israel from the sea; IDF foiled rare maritime attack by armed Palestinian squad equipped with wetsuits and diving gear; Hamas says four Palestinians killed and a fifth is missing; in January a number of barrels packed with explosives were washed ashore in Israel after being launched from Gaza

  • A UN report on the U.S. UAVs against terrorists and insurgents calls on countries to lay out rules and safeguards for carrying out the strikes, publish figures on civilian casualties, and prove they have attempted to capture or incapacitate suspects without killing them

  • The Obama administration has expanded and deepened the U.S. war on terror, and increase the role of Special Forces in that war; U.S. Special Forces are now deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year; plans exist for preemptive or retaliatory strikes in numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot has been identified, or after an attack linked to a specific group; the administration has also authorized the assassination of the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a rare — some say unprecedented — move against an American citizen

  • Underwater surveillance technology

    Underwater surveillance is one of the more difficult tasks for security personnel; darkness, humidity, murkiness, low temperature all make it difficult for camera equipment to capture clear images of elements in water; a new marine camera with integrated software offers a solution

  • Analysis

    On Monday Israel forcibly stopped a ship heading toward Gaza; since Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization officially committed to the destruction of Israel, Israel insists on inspecting cargo heading to Gaza; al Qaeda operatives are already in Gaza, and Iran is the largest supplier of weapons and munitions to Hamas; the Israeli military operation was clumsy, but it revealed that the supposedly peaceful activists on the ship were anything but: they were equipped with stun grenades, guns, knives, machete, and other weapons, an attacked the Israeli soldiers with intent to kill; since Hamas is likely to try this flotilla approach to public relations again, Israel may want to think of more creative ways to intercept future ships heading toward Gaza

  • World Cup watch

    A member of al Qaeda in Iraq said members of the organization ere planning to attack the Dutch and Danish soccer teams — and Dutch and Danish fans — in South Africa during the World Cup; experts are divided over the seriousness of the threats, but Dutch authorities are worried

  • Louisiana legislators approve a bill to toughen penalties for crimes committed with the aid of Internet-generated “virtual maps,” including acts of terrorism; bill defines a “virtual street-level map” as one that is available on the Internet and can generate the location or picture of a home or building by entering the address of the structure or an individual’s name on a Web site

  • Domestic terrorism

    Threats against U.S. lawmakers increase dramatically in 2009; each threat case is different, but the FBI says there are some common characteristics; the suspects are mostly men who own guns, and several had been treated for mental illness; most of the suspects had just undergone some kind of major life stress, such as illness or the loss of a job