With as many as 1,000 active cases, Fox News has learned at least 48 ISIS suspects are considered so high-risk that the FBI is using its elite tracking squads, known as the mobile surveillance teams or MSTs, to track them domestically.
“There is a very significant number of people that are on suspicious watch lists, under surveillance,” said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana).
Coats, who sits on the Select Committee on Intelligence, would not comment on specifics, but said the around-the-clock surveillance is a major commitment for the bureau. “The FBI together with law enforcement agencies across the country are engaged in this. It takes enormous amount of manpower to do this on a 24/7 basis. It takes enormous amount of money to do this,” Coats explained.
These elite FBI teams are reserved for espionage, mob violence and high-priority terrorism cases, like a joint terrorism task force case last June, where a 26-year-old suspect, Usaama Rahim, was killed outside a Massachusetts CVS. When a police officer and FBI agent tried to question him, the Boston police commissioner said, Rahim threatened them with a knife, and was shot dead.
On June 2, law enforcement officials lift the knife Usaama Rahim brandished toward a police officer and an FBI agent.Photo: AP
With at least a dozen agents assigned to each case, providing 24/7 coverage, this high level of surveillance reflects the severe risk associated with suspects most likely to attempt copycat attacks after Paris.
“It is a big resource drain. Yes it is. Almost overwhelming,” Coats said when asked about the demand placed on the FBI. “There will be a lot of people over the Thanksgiving weekend that will not be enjoying turkey with their family. They’ll be out there providing security for the American people and the threat is particularly high during this holiday period.”
One of the lessons of Paris is that the radicalization process can be swift. According to published reports, friends of the female suspect who was killed in the siege of Saint-Denis, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, abandoned her party life only a month before joining her cousin, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the commander of the plot on the ground. He was also killed in the siege.
On June 30, 2014, ISIS fighters parade through Raqqa, Syria, the nominal capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate.Photo: Reuters
FBI Director James Comey has consistently drawn attention to this phenomenon, calling it the “flash to bang,” that the time between radicalization and crossing the threshold to violent action can be very short. Last week, in a rare public appearance with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Comey would only say that “dozens” of suspected radicals have been under “tight surveillance.”
“Together we are watching people of concern using all of our lawful tools. We will keep watching them and if we see something, we will work to disrupt it,” Comey said.
Contacted by Fox News, an FBI spokesman had no comment on the high-risk cases, nor the use of elite surveillance teams.
DHS’s BioWatch program aims to provide early indication of an aerosolized biological weapon attack. Until April 2014, DHSpursued a next-generation autonomous detection technology (Gen-3), which aimed to enable collection and analysis of air samples in less than six hours, unlike the current system (Gen-2), which requires manual intervention and can take up to thirty-six hours to detect the presence of biological pathogens. A GAOreport found that DHS lacks reliable information about BioWatch Gen-2’s technical capabilities to detect a biological attack, and therefore lacks the basis for informed cost-benefit decisions about upgrades to the system.
DHS’s BioWatch program aims to provide early indication of an aerosolized biological weapon attack. Until April 2014, DHS pursued a next-generation autonomous detection technology (Gen-3), which aimed to enable collection and analysis of air samples in less than six hours, unlike the current system (Gen-2), which requires manual intervention and can take up to thirty-six hours to detect the presence of biological pathogens.
DHS is taking steps to address the capability gap which resulted from the April 2014 cancellation of Gen-3 by exploring other technology upgrades and improvements to the Gen-2 system.
A Government Accountability office (GAO) was asked to review the technical capabilities of the currently deployed BioWatch system (Gen-2); the Gen-3 testing effort; and the characteristics of autonomous detection as a possible option to replace the current BioWatch system.
GAO says it analyzed key program documents, including test plans, test results, and modeling studies. GAO assessed Gen-3 testing against best practices, reviewed relevant literature, and discussed the BioWatch program and testing efforts with key agency officials and national laboratories staff.
BioWatch Gen-2: Unreliable information
A Government Accountability office (GAO) report found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lacks reliable information about BioWatch Gen-2’s technical capabilities to detect a biological attack, and therefore lacks the basis for informed cost-benefit decisions about upgrades to the system.
DHS commissioned several tests of the technical performance characteristics of the current BioWatch Gen-2 system, but the department has not developed performance requirements which would enable it to interpret the test results and draw conclusions about the system’s ability to detect attacks. GAO notes that although DHS officials said that the system can detect catastrophic attacks, which they define as attacks large enough to cause 10,000 casualties, they have not specified the performance requirements necessary to reliably meet this operational objective.
In the absence of performance requirements, DHS officials said computer modeling and simulation studies support their assertion, but none of these studies were designed to incorporate test results from the Gen-2 system and comprehensively assess the system against the stated operational objective. Additionally, the GAO report says, DHS has not prepared an analysis that combines the modeling and simulation studies with the specific Gen-2 test results to assess the system’s capabilities to detect attacks.
Finally, GAO found limitations and uncertainties in the four key tests of the Gen-2 system’s performance. Because it is not possible to test the BioWatch system directly by releasing live biothreat agents into the air in operational environments, DHS relied on chamber testing and the use of simulated biothreat agents, which limit the applicability of the results.
“These limitations underscore the need for a full accounting of statistical and other uncertainties, without which decision makers lack a full understanding of the Gen-2 system’s capability to detect attacks of defined types and sizes and cannot make informed decisions about the value of proposed upgrades,” the report says.
GAO notes that the actions and decisions DHS made regarding the acquisition and testing of a proposed next generation of BioWatch (Gen-3) partially aligned with best practices GAO previously identified for developmental testing of threat detection systems. For example, best practices indicate that resilience testing, or testing for vulnerabilities, can help uncover problems early. DHS took steps to help build resilience into the Gen-3 testing, but the report says that future testing could be improved by using more rigorous methods to help predict performance in different operational environments.
DHS canceled the Gen-3 acquisition in April 2014, but GAO identified lessonsDHS could learn by applying these best practices to the proposed Gen-2 upgrades.
According to experts and practitioners, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which detects genetic signatures of biothreat agents, is the most mature technology to use for an autonomous detection system. DHS is considering autonomous detection as an upgrade to Gen-2, because according to DHS, it may provide benefits such as reduction in casualties or clean-up costs. But the extent of these benefits, GAO says, is uncertain because of several assumptions, such as the speed of response after a detection, whih are largely outside of DHS’s control. As a result, the effectiveness of the response and the number of lives that could be saved is uncertain. Further, an autonomous detection system must address several likely challenges, including minimizing possible false positive readings, meeting sensitivity requirements, and securing information technology networks.
GAO recommends that DHS not pursue upgrades or enhancements for Gen-2 until DHS reliably establishes the system’s current capabilities. GAO also recommends DHS incorporate best practices for testing in conducting any system upgrades.
DHS has generally concurred with GAO’s recommendations.
— Read more in Biosurveillance: DHS Should Not Pursue BioWatch Upgrades or Enhancements Until System Capabilities Are Established, GAO-16-99 (23 November 2015)
Israel’s cabinet has approved the construction of a new high-tech fencing along Israel’s border with Jordan, with the aim of making it more difficult for Islamist terrorists such as members of ISIS from entering the country. Israel has built sophisticated fencing – indeed, complex defensive systems — along its borders with Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Sinai. A similar system has been built along parts of Israel’s border with Syria. The Israeli security services are worried that a route through Jordan, the border with which is not as tightly secured as Israel’s borders with its other neighbors, may be an entryway for its enemies.
Israel’s cabinet has approved the construction of a new high-tech fencing along Israel’s border with Jordan, with the aim of making it more difficult for Islamist terrorists such as members of ISIS from entering the country.
The barrier is set to span nineteen miles in the south of the country, near the Red Sea. In addition to keeping out Islamist terrorists, the barrier is also aimed at preventing African migrants from entering Israel through Jordan, after travelling across the Red Sea.
Israel has completed a high-tech fence along the Israel-Egypt border in 2013, and the Independent reports that The Israeli security services are worried that a route through Jordan, which is not as tightly secured as Israel’s borders with its other neighbors, may be an entryway for its enemies.
During a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the extension of the Jordanian border fence “important,” and said it is a “very important step” in Israel’s national security.
He added that it will join the fence built along the Sinai and Golan Heights borders, which he said have been important in keeping out illegal migrants and “the various terrorist movements.”
Netanyahu said the fence was not an act of aggression or intimidation toward Jordan, stressing that the fence will be constructed “without in any way harming the sovereignty or national interests of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”
Netanyahu noted that the fence would also protect the Timna airport which is scheduled to open next year, and which is billed as an alternative “second airport” which could be used in case the Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv comes under attack.
Israel has built sophisticated fencing – indeed, complex defensive systems — along its borders with Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Sinai. A similar system has been built along parts of Israel’s border with Syria.
Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Photo:Medyan Dairieh / VICE News
Four days after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, my team and I asked the audience of my BBC Asian Network phone-in show a question, as we do every day. This time, it was: “Will the Paris attacks make life more difficult for British Muslims?”
It had been less than a week since the terrorists of Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, had gone on their murderous rampage. So, to some, it may have seemed insensitive to be asking so soon how British Muslims were feeling when French hearts from all backgrounds were broken and a manhunt to catch the surviving perpetrators was still ongoing.
Our reasoning was that what IS wanted was for discord to fester—for Islamophobia in the West to become deeply embedded, with the subsequent hatred and mistrust leading to more eager recruits being seduced into their death cult. So it was important for us to gauge whether or not they were succeeding in their aim. We also wanted to discover what it felt like on the ground for the average law-abiding, tax-paying, house-tending, car-driving, life-living British Muslim—or indeed British Asian, being that the average Islamophobe isn’t going to ask a potential victim to fill in a questionnaire clarifying their religious viewpoint before attacking them.
The calls, emails, and texts largely portrayed a depressing picture. I remember a British Muslim caller talking about how his sister had told their mother to not go to the bank that morning because “white people may attack you.” And this was not an isolated case of fear.
There are those who are in utter denial over the issue of increased (or indeed the very concept of) Islamophobia, and yet the statistics seem to challenge the belief some hold that we live in a tolerant, multicultural society. In the week following the Paris attacks, according to the government’s working group on anti-Muslim hatred, Islamophobic hate crime rose by 300 percent. Women having their headscarves ripped off, people being called terrorists, and facing aggressive behavior from strangers, being spat on and abused in front of their children. This is a reality for many British Muslims who have communicated with me on my phone-in show.
It is against this backdrop that The Sun newspaper printed its recent front page headline, “1 in 5 Brit Muslims have sympathy for Jihadis”—a conclusion the journalist responsible made after seeing the results of a poll that never mentioned the word jihadis. The survey’s 1,003 respondents were asked if they had any sympathy for young British Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria. Did that include members of the British Kurdish community going to Syria to fight IS, or joining the Free Syrian Army who are battling Assad and IS?
On the Sunday night before the print copy of the paper hit the newsstands, some had already seen the front page online and tweeted about how irresponsible and inflammatory they felt it was. A British Muslim member of the public, who also happens to follows me on Twitter, tweeted “All 5 Muslims in our household despise extremists. Either me or @TheSun is lying. Only one of us lies habitually.”
On Monday morning as people awoke to this headline, my debate show team knew that our listeners would want to discuss the impact it would have. We asked “Is today’s Sunheadline a wake up call to British Muslims or irresponsible journalism?” Many sided with the latter part of the question, as did others in the media. That same day there were articles in other newspapers questioning the methodology and the very basic journalistic shortcomings of the piece, and it was beginning to look like a blatant piece of hate-mongering to some of my listeners.
The Sun replied to the criticism by stating that they had “published the poll’s findings clearly and accurately, including the questions in full.” A non-Muslim emailer called Karamjeet wrote, “The reporting in The Sun certainly doesn’t surprise me, but the way it is reported is totally irresponsible and inflammatory.” Another listener texted, “The Sun is very conniving… they were asking very leading questions, the answers of which could be easily manipulated.” With more than a hint of frustration in her tone, another listener said, “Like those three monkeys, the media by and large chooses to stay blind, deaf, and dumb to those voices who speak out against extremists and terrorists. What do they want? That I renounce my faith? That I take up non-Islamic practices? Will that then assuage them?”
The fact that British Muslim callers have described how their work colleagues no longer treat them with the courtesy they once experienced, or that they are fearful for the futures of their kids, should act as a wake-up call to politicians and journalists that ill-conceived headlines have repercussions for people who just wish to practice their faith and go about their business. We all have a responsibility to confront hatred and bigotry wherever it exists, and at the very least do nothing to unnecessarily exacerbate the situation.
You only have to see the ridicule and backlash that The Sun has faced this week to realize that we are a tolerant nation. But for some of my British Muslim listeners, the fear is that those headlines will be read by some as gospel, tainting the way some of their fellow Brits view them. Instead, we must all unite and show solidarity, for that will only infuriate IS and help to quell the number of Europeans making the journey to Syria to join the terrorists.
PONGARA, Gabon — U.S. Marines and Gabon’s Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, or ANPN, worked together Sept. 14-25, at the Pongara National Forest to help the nation’s fight against wildlife trafficking.
At the request of the Gabonese government and through coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, the Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, trained with ANPN park rangers in infantry tactics to help build the nation’s capacity to counter trafficking of ivory and other animal-related products.
The training comes at a time when the elephant population has been dramatically decreasing across central Africa – faster than the elephants can reproduce, according to multiple news sources.
An Aug. 20 BBC news article reported the forest elephant population is down to 15,000 from 22,000 in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park, which is approximately the size of Delaware, due to high demand for the elephants’ ivory tusks.
Gabon contains almost half of all the elephant population in central Africa estimated to be nearly 100,000. This “presents an enticing target for traffickers, especially as wildlife populations fall elsewhere” according to a June 28 National Geographic article.
In February 2014, President Barack Obama outlined initiatives in the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that calls for combined efforts to reduce the demand for these products while simultaneously curbing the illegal trade industry.
The strategy calls for “combined efforts from nonprofits, corporations, individuals, and foreign government partners, to make that happen.”
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is determined to rid the country of this problem and recently requested outside assistance to counter the activities that are destroying elephant populations in the central African region.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Nikzad, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF Gabon team leader, and his team of five Marines and sailors were in Pongara’s National Forest training 14 park ranger supervisors using the “train the trainer” model.
“Before the training started, the ANPN leadership took all of us out to areas where elephants and other wildlife roam and the tour goes to show their dedication to preserve the wildlife here,” said Nikzad. “Most of these guys have taken part in this type of training in past rotations. They are fighting criminals who have military-type skills and the tactical training we teach them, coupled with the train-the-trainer approach, will ultimately assist them in their fight.”
SPMAGTF-CR-AF Det. A is based out of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, where they stage and prepare for theater security cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This specific iteration is manned by Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Coast Guardsmen from various stations across the United States.
- Written by Arron Daugherty and James Bargent
- Thursday, 24 September 2015
Italian police arrested 15 suspected Barrio 18 members in Milan and other nearby cities in northern Italy, reported AFP.
The group — which was mostly comprised of Salvadorans but also reportedly included two Italians — is accused of crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, armed robbery and the attempted murder of a rival from the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang.
An Italian judge ordered the arrests following an investigation that began in January 2014 after a female Salvadoran accused one of the group’s members of sexually assaulting her, according to AFP.
SEE ALSO: Barrio 18 News and Profile
Central American gangs like Barrio 18 and MS13, which are known as “maras,” have been operating in Italy for years, particularly in northern immigrant communities, the report added.
InSight Crime Analysis
Over the last two years, security forces in both Italy and Spain have noted the expansion of the MS13 in Europe, and these latest report confirms they are not alone — their great rivals in Barrio 18 have also crossed the ocean.
The key question surrounding this development is whether the spread is a result of Central American migrants bringing mara street gang culture with them and setting up autonomous networks, or whether these new European based factions are running criminal operations with maras in Central America, suggesting the gangs have made the leap into transnational organizations.
Both gangs are also well established in parts of the United States and the US government has already designated the MS13 a transnational criminal organization, ranking them alongside criminal groups such as the Mexican cartels. However, despite evidence of cross-border collaboration in criminal activities, the decentralized nature and highly localized and territorial focus of the maras has always cast doubts on this classification.
There have also been reports of the Spanish maras coordinating with their counterparts in the Americas, but even if this level of cooperation were to expand, it is unlikely they would have the capacity to coordinate serious transatlantic criminal operations. If they were to seek to establish control over transnational activities such as drug trafficking in Europe, they also would likely encounter formidable opposition; in Spain drug trafficking and associated activities such as contract killing is largely controlled by offshoots of Colombian cartels, while Italy is the domain of powerful and well-connected mafias such as the ‘Ndrangheta.
The Department of State has designated Algerian citizen Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of the designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which al-Anabi has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with him or to his benefit.
Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi is an Algerian al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) member. He is the leader of AQIM’s Council of Notables and serves as AQIM’s Media Chief. In an April 25, 2013 video, al-Anabi called for armed conflict by violent extremists against French interests throughout the world, presumably in response to France’s Mali intervention.