Monthly Archives: August 2010

State Department Releases Country Reports on Terrorism 2009

State Department: Al-Qaida Still Top U.S. Terror Threat

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5, 2010 – Transnational terrorism poses the United States’ gravest security threat, with al-Qaida’s core in Pakistan remaining the most-formidable terrorist organization targeting the U.S. homeland, according to a new State Department report covering worldwide terrorist activity during 2009.

“Country Reports on Terrorism 2009,” released today, notes al-Qaida’s continued adaptability and resilience and concludes that its desire to attack the United States and its interests abroad “remains strong.”

Citing U.S. intelligence community assessments, the report concludes that al-Qaida actively plotted against the United States and continued recruiting, training and deploying operatives, including some from Western Europe and North America, during the reporting period. It also recognizes al-Qaida’s efforts to expand its operational capabilities by partnering with other terrorist groups, with varying degrees of success.

These developments came despite al-Qaida setbacks during 2009. The report cites a Pakistani military offensive aimed at eliminating military strongholds, the loss of many top leaders and conditions that have made it more difficult for al-Qaida to raise money, train recruits and plan attacks.

Daniel Benjamin, the department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said al-Qaida’s attacks on Muslims have hurt its standing in the Muslim world. The latest annual State Department report aims to enhance understanding of the international terrorist threat and help to shape efforts to confront it, he explained.

The report tracked the 10,999 terrorist attacks worldwide last year that claimed 14,971 lives. This reflected the lowest number in five years, down from a high of 14,443 attacks in 2006 that left 22,736 people dead.

The report identified Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba as state sponsors of terrorism. Calling Iran the most active of the four, the report said its support for extremists in the region “had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the [Persian] Gulf, jeopardized the tenuous peace in southern Lebanon and undermined the growth of democracy.”

Also identified in the report were terrorist safe havens, by region. In South Asia, it cited Afghanistan and Pakistan; in the Middle East, Iraq, northern Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen; in Africa, Somalia and the Trans-Sahara; and in East Asia and the Pacific, the Sulawesi Sea and Sulu Archipelago.

In the Western Hemisphere, the report identified Venezuela as well as the Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay tri-border area as terrorist safe havens.

The report cites U.S. efforts to strengthen its counterterrorism strategy, but emphasizes that an effective policy must go beyond law enforcement, intelligence and military efforts.

Instead, the administration is formulating policies designed to shape and constrain the environments where terrorists operate. The goal, Benjamin explained, is to undermine the appeal of al-Qaida’s world view and isolate extremists.

“Our actions are guided by a recognition of the phenomenon of radicalization and the need to prevent more people from committing themselves to violence,” he said.

The United States is seeking ways to address the root causes of radicalism, he said, confronting the political, social and economic conditions that terrorist organizations exploit to win over recruits and financiers. Part of this involves expanding foreign assistance where violent extremism has made inroads, such as Pakistan and Yemen.

As the United States refines its own counterterrorism strategy, Benjamin said, it’s increasingly reaching out to the international community to confront terrorism multilaterally.

“We are seeking to boost the political will and strengthen the resolve of leaders around the world to confront terrorist threats,” Benjamin said, calling that will “essential” to addressing terrorism over the long term.

“Ultimately, our success will hinge on strengthening the ability of others around the world to deal with terrorism in their countries and regions,” he said.

Here is a link to the entire report:

Muslim Man Threatens to “Blow Up” Police Department in Louisiana

Press Release: On August 4, 2010, at 10:03 a.m., a police officer with the Vinton Police Department stopped 34-year-old Abdulrahman Abdallah Helou of Lafayette for speeding on Interstate 10. Helou was not able to provide proof of insurance for his vehicle. The officer then removed his license plate for an insurance violation.

Upon completion of the traffic stop, Helou traveled to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Sulphur in an attempt to retrieve his license plate. After being denied his license plate, Helou called the Vinton Police Department and threatened to “blow up” the police department. Officials with the Vinton Police Department then obtained an arrest warrant for terrorizing.

At 3:20 p.m., Helou returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Sulphur. Troopers with Louisiana State Police Troop D responded and apprehended Helou. He was booked on the warrant into the Calcasieu Parish Correctional Center with a $250,000 bond.

Chicago man charged with aiding al Qaeda

A 26-year-old Chicago man was trying to help finance al-Qaida and hoped to blow himself up in a suicide mission, authorities say.

Shaker Masri was arrested Tuesday evening and charged by federal prosecutors on Wednesday with knowingly intending to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.

Authorities said Masri told an FBI informant that he planned to go to Somalia and help al-Qaida, and asked the informant for money to help buy guns once they got there. He also told the informant that he hoped to become a martyr by wearing a suicide vest, the criminal complaint states.

Two Jihadists Convicted in 2007 Plan to Bomb JFK Fuel Storage Tanks

Russell Defreitas, a former JFK cargo handler, and Abdul Kadir, once a member of Guyana’s parliament, have been convicted on multiple conspiracy charges in their plan to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport’s fuel depot back in 2007.

TTB readers may recall that, when this plot was uncovered, the media ridiculed it as far-fetched. The New York Times relegated the story to page 37 of its daily paper edition. Evidently, a jury in New York decided that the plot was serious enough to send these two Jihadist terrorists to prison for a long time.

Defreitas and Kadir sought to kill thousands of innocent civilians and damage the US economy by  blowing up the fuel tanks at JFK airport, as well as the pipelines that run underground through a nearby Queens residential area.

Secret FBI recordings revealed Defreitas boasting of his familiarity of JFK Airport and the potential weaknesses of its security.

“For years, I’ve been watching them,” Defreitas remarked of the huge fuel tanks while scouting for potential targets with an undercover FBI informant.

Defreitas also pointed out the seeming absence of any security, quipping, “No solider. Nothing at all.”

In other recordings, Defreitas raged about punishing America with an attack that would “dwarf 9/11.” He also can be heard telling the FBI informant that his U.S. citizenship gave him cover to conduct Jihad:

“They don’t expect nobody in this country to do something like this,” he said. “They have their eyes on foreigners, not me.”

IAEA turns eyes toward Syria

The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency will likely consider a special inspection of Syria to answer nagging questions over its nuclear activities, the U.S. ambassador to the organization said Tuesday.

Glyn Davies said a number of countries on the IAEA’s board of governors support plans to invoke the rarely used sanction.

Like Iran, Syria is suspected of hiding weapons-related nuclear activities and has blocked access to a suspected nuclear site destroyed by Israeli warplanes in September 2007.

“We need to keep the focus very much on Iran — but stay tuned on Syria, because Syria I think would love to just stave off any serious action to get to the bottom of what they were doing,” Davies told reporters in London.

A recent IAEA report said that uranium particles found at the Dair Alzour desert facility indicate possible covert nuclear activities. The finding supported Western allegations that the bombed target was a nearly completed nuclear reactor which the U.S. alleges was of North Korean design and intended to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

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