Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Experts: security of U.S. mass transit system must be tightened

    Counterterrorism experts are arguing that security on America’s mass transit lines must be tightened in light of the foiled plot to attack a Toronto passenger train. The plan to attack Canada’s transit system highlights security holes in America’s commuter system, and the challenges involved in securing this vast system.

  • Reactions to Boston bombing threaten passage of immigration reform

    Reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings could become threaten the passage of immigration reform in Congress. Conservative Republicans who oppose an immigration reform along the lines offered by the bipartisan Gang of Eight have spoken out on the Hill, talk radio, and social networks saying that the bill should be reconsidered in light of the fact that  the suspects were born outside the United States.

  • TSA reverses course on knives-on-planes policy

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has abandoned, for now, its proposal to allow travelers to carry small knives on airplanes owing to significant opposition from lawmakers, air marshals, law enforcement officials, and flight attendants.

  • Lawmaker wants to give FBI more power to track terror suspects

    In 2011, at the request of Russia, the FBI questioned Tamerlan Tsatnaev to see whether he was affiliated with Chechen Islamic terrorist networks. The FBI’s investigation did not find anything, and his case was dropped. In the months following the questioning, Tsarnaev adopted more radical views, and gave expression to his militant views on his Facebook page. Even though his name was already in the FBI’s files, the agency’s ability to continue tracking him was limited by law. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) wants Congress to see whether the FBI’s authority to track extremist activity in the United States should be expanded.

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  • Akron University professor teaches students on how to spot terrorist plots

    Professor David Licate, a professor at the University of Akron, wants his students to be aware of those who may be buying bomb-making materials. In his class last Friday, Licate stressed to his homeland security course students that the community needs to look out for warning signs or suspicious behavior in an effort to prevent future tragedies.

  • Lawmakers want to learn more about the 2011 FBI investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

    Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Representative Peter King (R-New York), the former chairman of the committee, sent a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking answers about the Tamerlan Tsarnaev investigation by the FBI.In 2011, Russian security authorities requested that the FBI question Tsarnaev on suspicion that he was affiliated with Islamic Chechen insurgents, but after interviewing Tsarnaev and doing a background check, the FBI concluded there was not enough to justify continuing tracking of cTamerlan.

  • Hagel reassures Israel, discusses large arms deal

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Israel Sunday for his first visit in the country as secretary of defense. Some elements in the pro-Israel lobby in the United States campaigned against Hagel’s nomination, and Hagel went out of his way to assure Israelis that his position on Israel is not what it was portrayed to be. One of the main reasons for Hagel’s visit is to discuss a major U.S. arms deal that would offer Israel missiles for its fighter aircraft – but also plus KC-135 refueling planes which could be used in a long-range strike on a country such as Iran. Until now, the United States refused to sell refueling tankers to Israel.

  • Police captures second Boston suspect

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, was captured Friday evening. The 19-year old suspect was found, covered in blood, on a boat which was parked in the backyard of a house on Franklin Street in Watertown, covered with a tarp. The police used a robot to remove the tarp off the boat. After trying to negotiate with the suspect, a SWAT team stormed the boat and captured the suspect. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is listed in serious condition.

  • Second suspect eludes dragnet as Boston remains locked down

    The second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, 19-year old Dzokhar Tsarnaev, has so far managed to elude a massive dragnet, which began shortly after midnight. The streets of Boston and many of its suburbs remain empty, as residents were told to stay home, schools and businesses were closed, and public transportation and taxis were not in operation.

  • One bomber killed, Boston area under lock down as hunt for second bomber continues

    Boston police earlier this morning shot and killed one of the suspects in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing. The shooting took place in Watertown, a suburb of Boston. The police says that suspect no. 1 – the one seen wearing a dark baseball cap in the images the FBI releases Thursday afternoon – was apparently killed by an explosive device he was carrying on him or with him. The explosives went off after an exchange of heavy fire with the police.

  • FBI releases images of bombing suspects

    See video

    The FBI yesterday released videos and photographs of two young men, saying both are suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. The agency warned that the two suspects should be regarded as armed and dangerous. The FBI was also analyzing cellphone tower records to identify positive hits for signs of calls which may have been placed to trigger both explosions remotely. Investigators are also interested in a battery believed to be used in one of the bombs. The battery was likely purchased with a remote control toy and then extracted so it could be used in the bomb. That could potentially make it easier to zero in on a suspect.

  • DHS cuts funds for programs aiming to prevent a McVeigh-like fertilizer bombing attacks

    Timothy McVeigh used two tons of fertilizer and $3,000 of racing fuel to detonate a bomb outside the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The blast killed 168 people. The Obama administration is currently not allocating money or resources to preventing fertilizer bombing attacks like the one McVeigh used, according to a former DHS official with direct knowledge of the department’s budgeting and operations.

  • Mississippi man arrested for sending ricin letters to Obama, Sen. Wicker

    The FBI confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that a letter addressed to President Obama was found to contain the toxin ricin. As is the case with all the mail sent to the White House, the letter was screened in a remote mail sorting facility in Anacostia, a neighborhood in southeast Washington, D.C., and intercepted. The FBI arrested a man from Tupelo, Mississippi, on suspicion that he was behind the ricin letters to the White House and to Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), who lives in Tupelo.

  • IEDs a growing threat in U.S.: security experts

    Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) killed and maimed so many U.S. and coalition soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the Pentagon was forced to create the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).Terrorism experts say that as al Qaeda and its affiliates find it more and more difficult to engage in more spectacular terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and other attacks on aviation, they may resort to low-tech, IED-based attacks.Incendiary IEDs were already the most common weapons used in the 207 terrorist plots and attacks in the United States from 2001 to 2011. Domestic groups, led by the environmental Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, were responsible for most of the attacks in that 10-year period. Al Qaeda was involved in four such attacks.

  • Ease of construction makes pressure-cooker bombs popular among terrorists

    The ease of building pressure-cooker bombs has made them popular among terrorist organizations and insurgent groups. Inspire, the on-line English-language magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), three years ago published an article titled “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” by “the AQ Chef,” which contained detailed instructions on building a pressure-cooker bomb.