Showing posts from 2009

Who knew US, Israel had so much power over Iranians

Henry Newman: This week the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blamed America and Israel for the widespread anti-government protests around Sunday's holy mourning day of Ashura. He insisted that "Americans and Zionists are the sole audience of a play they have commissioned and sold out". These allegations echo earlier episodes when Ahmadinejad, his ministers and loyal clerics, have insisted that Britain, Israel and the US are responsible for fomenting the mass protests that have followed June's election-grabbing coup. Iran has formally protested this alleged foreign interference, summoning ambassadors and crying foul. Relations with the west – already tense over the nuclear impasse – have been further strained by arrests of foreign nationals, harassment of embassy employees and the unsavoury record of Iranian involvement in Iraq. Just today this newspaper has published evidence showing that a British hostage captured in Iraq may in fact have been held in Iran b

Gun paranoia?

Telegraph: Such groups – a mix of libertarians, gun rights advocates and survivalists – appeared to be in terminal decline before the election of Barack Obama, according to monitoring bodies. The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which tracks extremist organisations, says it has so far counted more than 300 patriot groups this year, at least double last year's total of 150. The real total will be much higher as many groups do not go out of their way to publicise their existence. A similar wave of anti-government groups, some of whose members dress in camouflage gear and conduct military training at weekends, sprung up during the Clinton administration. However, SPLC researchers said there was a new race factor reflecting President Obama's ethnicity and immigration fears. The groups themselves reject accusations of racism but agree that many members are deeply worried about gun control, are angered by the federal economic rescue packages, and are dismayed by government interference i

Brit hostages held in Iran?

Times: ... The picture of the IT consultant looking fit and well was published as it emerged that the former US commander in Iraq declared he was “absolutely certain” that he was held secretly in Iran for part of his incarceration. General David Petraeus’s claim is likely to intensify the bitter diplomatic relationship between London and Tehran. General Petraeus accused Iran of involvement in the kidnapping within three weeks of the men being seized. In an interview with The Times in June 2007 he said he believed the kidnappers had been funded, trained and armed by Iran, but he fell short of accusing Tehran of complicity. He said: "They are not rank-and-file Jaish al-Mahdi. They are trained in Iran, equipped with Iranian (weapons), and advised by Iran. The Iranian involvement here we have found to be much, much more significant than we thought before. They have since about the summer of 2004 played a very, very important role in training in Iran, funding, arm

Underwear bomber started journey in Ghana

Reuters: A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a U.S. passenger jet on Christmas Day began his journey in Ghana and spent less than 30 minutes in Nigeria's Lagos airport , the Nigerian government said on Thursday. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been charged with trying to blow up Northwest Airlines flight 253 as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam on December 25 with almost 300 people on board. "Further investigations by the Nigerian government have revealed that Abdulmutallab spent less than 30 minutes in the Nigerian airport before boarding the flight to Amsterdam," Information Minister Dora Akunyili said in a statement. "He arrived in Nigeria on 24 December from Ghana via Virgin Nigeria. His passport was scanned on entry into Nigeria at 20:08 and was scanned in at check-in for departure to Amsterdam at 20:35," she said. Although Abdulmutallab was known to have bought his t

Virginia's Republican governor wants offshore drilling

Energy Tomorrow: Breaking from his predecessor, Virginia's Governor-elect Bob McDonnell sent a letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, asking the administration to move forward with a scheduled offshore lease sale in 2011. McDonnell says "offshore energy exploration and production will be a priority" during his four-year term as governor. The Commonwealth's current Gov. Tim Kaine sought to delay the lease sale. As McDonnell states in his letter, he is aware of "several major energy companies that are ready to bid for the leasehold rights," and he says offshore oil and natural gas development could reap big dividends for the citizens of Virginia: "A 2005 study by a former president at Old Dominion University forecast that offshore natural gas production alone off of the Atlantic coast near Virginia would, over a 10-year period, likely create at least 2

US releases Iranian who kinapped an murder troops in Iraq

Bill Roggio: The US has released the leader of an Iranian-backed Shia terror group behind the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007. Qais Qazali, the leader of the Asaib al Haq or the League of the Righteous, was set free by the US military and transferred to Iraqi custody in exchange for the release of British hostage Peter Moore, US military officers and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal . The US military directly implicated Qais in the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007. “We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.” The US military has maintained that the release of members and leaders of the League of the Righteous is related to a reconciliation agreement between the terror group and the Iraqi government, but some US military officers disagree. “The official line is the release of Qa

Yemen arrest al Qaeda operative

CNN: A man described as "one of al Qaeda's most dangerous members" was arrested in Yemen, the Yemeni military, an embassy official and state-run news agency Saba said. Mohammed Abdu Saleh al-Haudali, 35, is "one of the most dangerous terrorists wanted by the security forces," according to a Yemeni military Web site, citing a security source. Al-Haudali was arrested Wednesday in the village of Deer Jaber in the Bajel district, northeast of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, said Mohammed Albasha, spokesman for the Yemen Embassy in Washington. Al-Haudali exchanged fire with security forces before his arrest, Saba reported, citing Hodeidah province security officer Abdul-Wahab al-Radhi. However, the Yemeni military site quoted the security source as saying al-Haudali was caught when he attempted to open fire on authorities. ... It is not clear if he had any connection to the attempted plane bombing near Detroit. It is possible that he may have some information about t

Rush needs to get back to work

It is obvious that Rush Limbaugh's vacation was too strenuous since he was hospitalized with chest pains. I wish him a speedy recovery. It is hard to go a week with out hearing him.

Voters favor aggressive interrogation of underwear bomber

Rasmussen Reports: Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 30% oppose the use of such techniques, and another 12% are not sure. Men and younger voters are more strongly supportive of the aggressive interrogation techniques than women and those who are older. Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party favor their use more than Democrats. Seventy-one percent (71%) of all voters think the attempt by the Nigerian Muslim to blow up the airliner as it landed in Detroit should be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act. Only 22% say it should be handled by civilian authorities as a criminal act, as is currently the case. ... It appears that this is another case where the GOP is on the side of the people. I think this guy

No rise in atmospheric CO2 in last 150 years

Science Daily: ... To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data. In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades. This sounds like an inconvenient fact for the globo warmers. I wonder what kind of torture they have lined up for this guy. If he is lucky he will just be banned from AlGore's Rolodex.

Afghan patrol

Washington Times: Villagers stared at the Americans as they made their way into a small bazaar where goat meat hung from hooks amid stands of used clothing, pots, pans and various trinkets. For the Afghans, the big Americans in full battle gear looked like beings from another planet. At each turn of the road, soldiers on the point knelt on the ground, automatic weapons ready. The men and women on the security walk were staggered in zigzag formation to keep casualties low in case Taliban sharpshooters were in the area and taking aim. Capt. Casey Thoreen, 30, the commander of the unit, monitored his radio for intelligence. Fifteen minutes later, the unit arrived at a local clinic. It was empty and ominous looking with an open gate. Villagers in the bazaar began to leave. Shopkeepers closed their shops, throwing tarps over their goods. Children who had been cadging the troops for candy and pencils scattered. "A suicide bomber is in the area," Capt. Thoreen said after receiving

Marines show counterinsurgency works in Nawa

LA Times: ... (Lt.Col.) McCollough was in the lead helicopter on a moonless night back in June when about 100 Marines arrived to relieve a British army platoon that had been pinned down for months in what had once been the Nawa district government center. Within minutes, Taliban fighters let loose with automatic weapons from the tree line just 200 yards away. Marines returned fire and began flanking the Taliban. The fight lasted most of the night, with the Marines chasing the militants away from the government center. The next morning, 50 village elders were banging at the gate of the government center, demanding to know what the Marines were doing. McCollough explained that they had replaced the British and were there to break the Taliban stranglehold that had closed the village bazaar and led to Taliban checkpoints, extortion and summary executions. He also explained that the U.S. would pay for any damage done by Marines to homes and farms during the fighting. The incremental work of

TV judge to challenge McCaul

The Hill: Former TV judge Larry Joe Doherty is eyeing another run at Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). The Democrat’s interest comes a week after businessman Jack McDonald, one of the top fundraising challengers nationwide, announced that he would no longer run against McCaul. Doherty, who had endorsed McDonald, is reportedly polling the race and says he is interested in trying again. "You may tell all interested that I'm interested,” he wrote in an e-mail to a local blogger. The former star of "Texas Justice," Doherty caught the national Democratic Party's interest last year with his fundraising capability; he raised $1.1 million and self-funded another $100,000. He was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's (DCCC) Red to Blue program and also benefited from a robocall recorded by former President Bill Clinton. In the end though, the result was something of a disappointment for Democrats. In a contest that closely mirrored the pres

Cleric tied to underwear bomber

LA Times: U.S. counter-terrorism agencies are investigating whether an American-born Islamic cleric who has risen to become a key figure in the Al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen played a role in the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing over Detroit, intelligence and law enforcement officials said Wednesday. Intercepts and other information point to connections between terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Anwar al Awlaki -- who also communicated with the accused U.S. Army gunman in last month's attack on Ft. Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead. Some of the information about Awlaki comes from Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian charged with attempting to detonate a hidden packet of PETN explosive aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the officials said. Under questioning by the FBI, Abdulmutallab has said that he met with Awlaki and senior Al Qaeda members during an extended trip to Yemen this year, and that the cleric was invol

Lawfare as a security breach

Opinion Journal: President Obama has belatedly declared that the near miss above Detroit constituted "a catastrophic breach of security" and ordered a review of America's intelligence efforts. We're glad to hear it, but let's hope the Commander in Chief also rethinks his own approach to counterterrorism. Recent events have exposed the shortcomings of treating terror as a law enforcement problem and rushing to close Guantanamo Bay. A new wave of jihadists is coming of age, inspiring last month's deadly attack at Ft. Hood and nearly bringing down Northwest Flight 253, and next time we may not be so lucky. ... U.S. investigators are looking into whether Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian would-be bomber, was in contact with al-Shihri and another Guantanamo alum who turned up at the AQAP, Muhammad al-Awfi. The week before Christmas, Yemen agreed, presumably under U.S. prodding, to take back six more Guantanamo detainees. Ninety-seven of the 210 l

The al Qaeda affiliates

NY Times: ... “We think of core Al Qaeda in Pakistan as a very potent group, but not huge,” said Daniel L. Byman, a former intelligence analyst now at Georgetown University . “But if you add the affiliates that are actively targeting us, it becomes a much bigger number.” Al Qaeda’s ties with its affiliates play out at different levels. This year, American officials began seeing the first evidence that dozens of fighters from Pakistan, along with a handful of the terrorist group’s midlevel leaders, were moving to Somalia and Yemen. The terrorist groups in all three locations are now communicating more frequently, and apparently are trying to coordinate their actions, the officials said. “Al Qaeda in the tribal areas — Al Qaeda central — gives strategic guidance to its regional affiliates,” said an American counterterrorism official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the group publicly. “It’s not a hands-on, day-to-day, tactical relationship.” ... Al Qaeda is

Underwear bomber--Lessons learned

Cliff May: ... Real security means looking for terrorists - not for weapons . In this case, it should have been easy: Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a prominent Nigerian banker, alerted U.S. Embassy officials that his son, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, had become radicalized. That ought to have led to the revocation of Abdul Muttalab's multiple-entry visa to the U.S., his inclusion on the "no-fly" list, or, at the very least, to a thorough screening before he was allowed to board a plane bound for Detroit. President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should want to know why these steps were not taken. Whoever is to blame should be fired. More broadly: Does looking for terrorists rather than weapons mean we need to profile? Yes, but we're not talking about racial profiling, we're talking about terrorist profiling - identifying the characteristics, background, and behavioral patterns that terrorists often share. For example, it has been reported that Abdul

Underpants bomber rights

Richard Miniter: ... Let's trace the underpants bomber case, noting that at each step along the way the rights-obsessed got in the way of the life-saving instincts of ordinary people... until the very end. A Yemen Embassy spokesman confirmed to me that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made two trips to the desert republic, where he went to study Arabic in a known al Qaeda sanctuary. This was reported to American intelligence. So why did a U.S. consular officer grant the young man a U.S. visa? Well, I was told, it wouldn't be fair to single someone out just for visiting suspicious places. Who knows, he could be a budding journalist? In other words, U.S. embassy officials treat entry into the United States on a less exclusive basis than a garden party—to do any differently wouldn't be right or fair. What about that dodgy cleric who was tied to the 9/11 bomber, the Ft. Hood shooter and now the underpants bomber? Helpfully, he's fled to Yemen, where that nation's intelligenc

Obama's retreat from the world

Fouad Ajami: With year one drawing to a close, the truth of the Obama presidency is laid bare: retrenchment abroad, and redistribution and the intrusive regulatory state at home. This is the genuine calling of Barack Obama, and of the "progressives" holding him to account. The false dichotomy has taken hold—either we care for our own, or we go abroad in search of monsters to destroy or of broken nations to build. The decision to withdraw missile defense for Poland and the Czech Republic was of a piece with that retreat in American power. In the absence of an overriding commitment to the defense of American primacy in the world, the Obama administration "cheats." It will not quit the war in Afghanistan but doesn't fully embrace it as its cause. It prosecutes the war but with Republican support—the diehards in liberal ranks and the isolationists are in no mood for bonding with Afghans. (Harry Reid's last major foreign policy pronouncement was his assertion, t

Collecting clues about Fort Hood shooter

Washington Post: Nidal Hasan was causing a ruckus in his one-bedroom apartment during the early hours of Nov. 5, banging against the thin walls long after midnight, packing boxes and shredding papers until he woke up the tenants next door. Maybe that was a clue. He picked up the phone at 2:37 a.m. and dialed a neighbor. Nobody answered. Hasan called again three hours later, this time leaving a message. "Nice knowing you, friend," he said. "I'm moving on from here." Maybe that was a clue, too. He left Apartment 9 early that morning and stopped next door to see a woman named Patricia Villa, whom he had known for less than a month. He gave her a bag of frozen vegetables, some broccoli, a clothing steamer and an air mattress, explaining that he was about to be deployed to a war zone. Then Hasan visited another neighbor, a devout Christian, who looked at him quizzically when he handed her a copy of the Koran and recommended passages for her to read. "In my

Human bomb wearing Afghan officer uniform kills CIA officers

NY Times: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest and an Afghan National Army uniform killed at least eight American civilians, most of them C.I.A. officers, at a remote base in southeastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, according to NATO officials and former American intelligence officials. The bomber who struck the base in Khost Province was wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, two NATO sources, both of whom asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, said Thursday. Earlier, a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack. The use of an official army uniform could mean any one of three things: that the raid was carried out by the Taliban and he was using a stolen uniform; that he was an army officer assigned to the base who became mentally unstable and decided to turn on those he was supposed to protect; or that the Afghan National Army ranks are infiltrated by insurgents. The latter would be the most serious concern because it indicates a poten

Questions for the underwear bomber

Victoria Toensing: On the third day after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, President Barack Obama finally interrupted his Hawaiian vacation to announce that our government "will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable." But how are we going to do that now that the terrorist is lawyered up and is even challenging what should be a legal gimme: giving the government a DNA sample? It was not wise to try enemy combatants such as Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker in the 9/11 attacks, in our regular criminal courts. And it is unwise that Mr. Obama has decided to try some Guantanamo detainees in New York City. Never in our country's history prior to 2001 have we done so, for good reason. The constitutional protections designed to ensure a person is not wrongfully convicted have no relevance to wartime military needs. The argument that our system is strong enough to try a terrorist is a non

UK MRAPs not 'fit for purpose' in Afghanistan

Times: More than half of the new armoured vehicles sent to Afghanistan are out of service, the Ministry of Defence has admitted. Only 134 of the 271 Mastiffs, the heaviest and most protective of the Army’s armoured vehicles in Afghanistan, are “fit for purpose”, figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats have revealed. The same poor service history is also affecting the new Ridgeback vehicles which are being used for the first time by 11 Light Brigade in Afghanistan. In written Commons answers, the Liberal Democrats were told that nearly 40 per cent of Ridgebacks were not operational at present. The Mastiff and Ridgeback are examples of the new type of heavily armoured, mine-resistant, wheeled patrol vehicles used by the Army on operations in Afghanistan. They provide much greater protection to personnel than the lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover which has proved so vulnerable to roadside bombs. Willie Rennie, Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: “These worr

Human bomb hits Afghanistan CIA base

Washington Post: A suicide bomber blew himself up Wednesday inside an Afghan military base used by the CIA, killing at least eight Americans in what is believed to be the deadliest single attack on U.S. intelligence personnel in the eight-year-long war, U.S. officials said. The bomber managed to slip past security at Forward Operating Base Chapman in the eastern province of Khost before detonating an explosive belt in what one U.S. official described as a room used as a fitness center. The blast also wounded eight people, several of them seriously, U.S. government officials said. It was not immediately clear how the assailant was able to infiltrate the U.S.-run post, which serves as an operations and surveillance center for the CIA near the Afghanistan - Pakistan border. U.S. sources confirmed that all the dead and injured were civilians, adding that most of them were probably CIA employees or contractors. At least one Afghan civilian was also killed, the sources said. While many

A failure to share the dots of intelligence

NY Times: The National Security Agency four months ago intercepted conversations among leaders of Al Qaeda in Yemen discussing a plot to use a Nigerian man for a coming terrorist attack, but American spy agencies later failed to combine the intercepts with other information that might have disrupted last week’s attempted airline bombing. The electronic intercepts were translated and disseminated across classified computer networks, government officials said on Wednesday, but analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington did not synthesize the eavesdropping intelligence with information gathered in November when the father of the would-be bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab , visited the United States Embassy in Nigeria to express concerns about his son’s radicalization. The father, a wealthy businessman named Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, had urgently sought help from American and Nigerian security officials when cellphone text messages from his son revealed that he was

Focus on Yemen

Times: The global war on terror began a year before September 2001, when a speedboat with militants and half a tonne of explosives rammed an American destroyer anchored in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen US Navy sailors died. Nearly a decade later, Yemen is again the front line in a conflict that President Obama refuses to call a war but one that has changed little since his predecessor rallied the American nation with a security doctrine that he summarised in two words: “Let’s roll.” Yemeni officials announced yesterday that security forces had stormed an al-Qaeda hideout and arrested militants north of Bajil in the impoverished country’s western Deir Jaber region. It was the latest assault in a proxy war being fought by the fragile Yemeni Government with the quiet but rapidly increasing support of US trainers, intelligence and military hardware. Last year the Pentagon gave Yemen less than $5 million (£3 million) in military aid. This year, after a visit by General David Petraeu

US planning attacks on al Qaeda Yemen bases?

Guardian: The US is planning retaliatory strikes in Yemen against al-Qaida over its attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight on Christmas Day. American officials say intelligence efforts are focused on identifying and tracking down those who plotted to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the plane with enough explosive in his underwear to bring down the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam. But they warn that finding those responsible is unlikely to be swift and say that identifying other "high-value" al-Qaida targets for retaliatory attack would also be a priority. "First we have to find out who put Abdulmutallab on the plane with the bomb," said a US official working alongside intelligence organisations. "He's providing some leads and we're not dealing with an unknown quantity here. We've been watching and listening to what goes on in Yemen and we may have pieces of the puzzle already and just need to fit it together. "If and when we iden

Obama's failure responsible for underwear bomber attack

Judith Apter Klinghoffer: Barack Obama is right. The ability of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a plane to Detroit represents a "catastrophic" failure. But he is also wrong. The system did not fail. He did. He sent signals which led the people working in the system to fail. These people no longer worked for an anti terrorist warier called George W. Bush but a cool, imperturbable Barack Obama whose primary enemy was "over reaction." This is the conclusion I reached reading that the warning received in Nigeria was not buried in Nigeria. The opposite is true. It triggered a multi-agency meeting, the kind of meeting designed to insure that the dots are connected. WSJ reports: . . . the father of Mr. Abdulmutallab met with the Central Intelligence Agency at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, Nov. 19, and told of his son's likely radicalization, U.S. officials say. That led to a broader gathering of agencies the next day, including the Department of Homeland Secu

August intel on 'The Nigerian'

CBS: CBS News has learned that as early as August of 2009 the Central Intelligence Agency was picking up information on a person of interest dubbed "The Nigerian," suspected of meeting with "terrorist elements" in Yemen. Sources tell CBS News "The Nigerian" has now turned out to be Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. But that connection was not made when Abudulmutallab's father went to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria three months later, on November 19, 2009. It was then he expressed deep concerns to a CIA officer about his son's ties to extremists in Yemen, a hotbed of al Qaeda activity. In fact, CBS News has learned this information was not connected until after the attempted Christmas Day bombing. ... While the underwear bombers dad was able to provide few specifics it is reasonable to conclude that his information along with the information on the Nigerian should have tripped some red flags. In fact US intelligence should be taking a close look at anyone

US, Yemen looking for new targets

Ynet News: The US and Yemen are looking at new targets in Yemen for a potential retaliation strike, two senior American officials told CNN Tuesday following the failed Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, which al-Qaeda in Yemen claims it organized. According to CNN, the officials stressed the effort is aimed at being ready with options for the White House if President Barack Obama orders a retaliatory strike, adding that the effort is to see whether targets can be specifically linked to the airliner incident and its planning.One of the officials was quoted by CNN as saying that the plan is part of a new classified agreement with the Yemeni government that the two countries will work together and that the US will remain publicly silent on its role in providing intelligence and weapons to conduct strikes. The CNN report said that "by all accounts, the agreement would allow the US to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in Yemen

Questions raised by underwear bomber

Ruth Marcus: ... How can it be that his visa was not revoked after his own father went to U.S. authorities to report concerns about his son's radicalization? "After his father contacted the embassy recently, we coded his visa file so that, had he attempted to renew his visa months from now, it would have triggered an in-depth review of his application," one U.S. official told CNN. How reassuring. How can it be that, after the father's alert, the most that seems to have been done was to place Abdulmutallab's name in a database so sprawling as to be nearly useless? There was, one administration official explained, "insufficient derogatory information" to bump up Abdulmutallab to a higher status of watch list. Excuse me, but how much more derogatory can you get? How can it be that British authorities denied Abdulmutallab's request for a visa renewal -- without triggering a comparable review by U.S. officials? Was the United States not informed or did

Underwear bomber attended classes in Houston

Houston Chronicle: A leader of a Houston Islamic educational institution said Tuesday that the organization is investigating a report that the Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day attended classes here last year. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, vice president for the AlMaghrib Institute in Houston and imam of the Clear Lake Islamic Center, said he has asked staffers to look into a report that 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had attended classes in Houston during a trip to the U.S. ... Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said that Abdulmutallab made one prior trip to the U.S. before the bombing attempt, flying into Houston Aug. 1, 2008, and leaving 16 days later. ... As word spread that Abdulmutallab might have attended the institute, Basyouni asked for patience as members of the staff comb through class rolls, saying “we have a very, very large student body.” The international institute is a nonprofit that teaches Islamic studies. It has a

Obama concerned about intelligence failure

ABC News: A day after President Obama bluntly acknowledged security failures in the case of the Christmas day terror plot on Northwest Flight 253 , ABC News has confirmed that the U.S. government had intelligence that "a Nigerian" was in Yemen being prepared for a terrorist assault but it is unclear why the information wasn't acted on. A CIA official met with the father of Umar Farouk Abdumutallab, the suspect being held in the plot, after he reported the increasing radicalization of his son to the U.S. embassy, information that was sent out by the State Department to intelligence agencies. The CIA shared the information with the counterterrorism community, but it is unclear why more urgency was not assigned to the case. The 23-year-old terror suspect was able to smuggle explosives past two screening check points on two commercial airlines, one of which was a plane flying from Amsterdam to Detroit. ... "A systemic failure has occurred, and I consider that tota

Somalia arrested potential underwear bomber last month

AP reports that the man was arrested trying to board a plane for a domestic flight with a syringe and white power similar to that used by the Detroit underwear bomber. He was stopped by airport security officals from teh African Union forces. This news does raise a question about how a primitive violence racked place like Somalia can do a better job of screening passengers than was done with our own underwear bomber. CNN has more on the Somali arrest. The perp is still in custody and presumably would be available for interrogation which makes him different from the underwear bomber whose lawyer has told him to quit talking. It would also be interesting to get an analysis of the chemicals he was trying to get on board.

Underwear bomber radicalized in London?

NY Times: ... Mr. Abdulmutallab’s engagement with radical Islam clearly hit a crisis for his family by Nov. 19, when his father, among Nigeria’s richest and most prominent men, visited the American Embassy there to express concern about the radicalization of his son, who had disappeared, perhaps to Yemen. But a snapshot of Mr. Abdulmutallab’s formative years in London, from 2005 to 2009, reveals a central difficultly in preventing future terrorist attacks: Friends, relatives, a teacher and fellow Muslim students say they cannot point to a trigger moment in recent years in which an amiable and privileged young man, devout if also disaffected, aspired to mass murder. Their best guess — one shared by investigators — is that the road to radicalization ran less through Yemen, where he studied Arabic as a teenager and apparently later prepared for a suicide mission, than through the Islamic hothouse of London. ... Investigators are now, in fact, turning a sharper and retrospective eye to th

SC decision on handguns in DC, leads to lower murder rate

Washington Times: The year is drawing to a close with homicides in the District at a 45-year low, reflecting a national trend that law enforcement officials are attributing to multipronged crime-prevention strategies that include advances in communication and coordination. With just two days left in the year, according to preliminary numbers from the police department, the District has had 138 homicides compared with 184 at the same time last year, setting up the city to record the lowest number of homicides since 1964, when 132 were reported killed. Metropolitan Police Department officials attribute the decline to a "perfect storm" of crime-fighting strategies, including a new culture of communication within the police department. ... Actuyally the story does not mention the Supreme Court decision but it should have. Authorities take credit for lowering the murder rate with more effective policing and that is to some extent true. It is especially true in hich crime areas

Democrats in trouble blame Sen. DeMint

Mark Hemingway: ... ... Our national security apparatus may be in disarray, but thank goodness the Democratic spin machine is in tip-top shape. Democrats are trying to pin blame for the TSA breakdown on Sen. DeMint, R-S.C., who has placed a hold Erroll Southers, the Obama administration's nominee to head up the TSA. However, the Obama administration didn't even nominate Southers until September. It's pretty hard get indignant over DeMint for holding up Southers' nomination for three months -- if the post is so crucial, why did the Obama administration wait nine months to fill it? There are scores of other key administration positions that remain unfilled solely due to the Senate's obsessive health care focus, including a number of key Homeland Security and law enforcement positions. Additionally, DeMint can't really be blamed for Southers being held-up as long as he has. Senate Democrats have devoted nearly every available bit of time for their health care leg

Bottom up movement difficult for Iran to control

Martin Fletcher: Iran’s panicking regime is once again seeking to suppress the Green Movement by decapitating it. Just as it did after June’s hotly-disputed presidential election, it is arresting high-profile reformists, academics and journalists who support the opposition. It hesitates to detain Mir Hossein Mousavi lest millions of his supporters take to the streets, but it has locked up his brother-in-law and is widely suspected of killing his nephew. It cannot arrest Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel laureate, as she is abroad, but it has imprisoned her sister. The tactic will prove as futile now as it did in June. Decapitation will not work because the opposition is a bottom-up movement run not by Mr Mousavi or Mehdi Karroubi, its nominal leaders, but by its grassroots members. It is a massive campaign of civil disobedience. “Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards still don’t get it,” said one Iranian academic. “The Green Movement is a decentralised popular front run by local

Who knew?--Al Qaeda was involved in underwear bomb attempt?

Washington Post: President Obama and his top advisers received new information Monday night about the attempted airliner attack in Detroit that has led them to believe there is "some linkage" with al-Qaeda, a senior administration official said Tuesday. The official said the president and his top advisers are "increasingly confident" that Al Qaeda was involved in the attempted attacker's plans. Obama, in his remarks to reporters earlier in the day, said that if intelligence about the suspect had been handled differently he would have been blocked from boarding a plane for the United States. Senior officials said that was among the new details that the president learned in a conference call with top national security officials - National Security Adviser Jim Jones, his top counterterrorism expert John Brennan, and deputy National Security adviser Tom Donilon - on Tuesday morning. The new information "had to do with information that was in possession of