Archive for August, 2004

Terror in Russian Skies in wake of Chechnyan Elections

27 August 2004: Explosives residue (similar to that used by Islamic rebels) found in wreckage.

Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage of one of two airliners that crashed nearly simultaneously earlier this week, the Federal Security Service said Friday, a day after a top official acknowledged that terrorism was the most likely cause of the crashes. A duty officer at the agency, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, confirmed reports on Russian news agencies that cited agency spokesman Sergei Ignatchenko as saying that “preliminary analysis indicates it was hexogen.”

The announcement came several hours after a Web site known for militant Muslim published a claim of responsibility for the twin crashes, connecting the action to Russia’s fight against separatists in Chechnya.

The Russian news reports said the explosive traces were found in the wreckage of a Tu-154 that was one of two planes that crashed Tuesday night, killing at least 89 people.

Although the planes disappeared from radar screens within minutes of each other after taking off from the same airport, Moscow’s Domodedovo, Russian officials had held back from connecting them to terrorism, citing bad fuel and human error as other possible causes.

The Russian presidential envoy for the region that includes Chechnya, Vladimir Yakovlev, however, conceded Thursday that terrorism was seen as the most likely cause.

27 August 2004 - Islamic group claims responsibility for twin Russian plane crashes:

A claim of responsibility for the downing of two Russian planes appeared on a Web site known for militant Muslim comment Friday.

The statement, which accused Russians of killing Muslims in Chechnya (search), was signed “the Islambouli Brigades.” A group with a similar name has claimed at least one previous attack, but the legitimacy of the group and the authenticity of such statements could not be verified.

Russian officials have said terrorism was the most likely cause of Tuesday’s plane crashes, which killed 89 people.
“We in the Islambouli Brigades announce that our holy warriors managed to hijack two Russian planes and were crowned with success though they faced problems at the beginning,” the statement said without elaborating on the problems.

Friday’s statement said five mujahedeen (Islamic fighters) were on board each plane and their wills will be published soon.

The statement did not explain how the hijackers boarded the planes, how they downed them or give any other details.

“Russia’s slaughtering of Muslims is continuing and will only stop when a bloody war is launched,” the statement said. “Our mujahedeen, with God’s grace, succeeded in directing the first blow, which will be followed by a series of other operations in a wave of to extend support and victory to our Muslim brothers in Chechnya and other Muslim areas which suffer from Russian faithlessness.”

A July 31 Web statement signed the “Islambouli Brigades of Al Qaeda” claimed responsibility for the attempt to assassinate Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan’s prime minister-designate. Friday’s claim did not refer to Al Qaeda, the international terror network led by Osama bin Laden.

Lt. Khaled Islambouli was the leader of the group of soldiers who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during a military parade in Cairo in 1981.

Terror in Russian Skies in wake of Chechnyan Elections

Two Airliners Downed: In an obvious act of coordinated terrorism, two Russian passenger airliners originating from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport  were blown from the skies within minutes of each other, killing all 90 passengers and crew from both aircraft. In the wake of Chechnyan elections scheduled for this Sunday, Russian officials had expressed previous concerns of terrorist acts in the days leading up the elections. The upcoming elections will choose a successor to Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated on May 9th in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Debris from the Tupolev TU-154 that carried 38 passengers and 8 crew members from Moscow was discovered in the Rostov region; debris from the second flight also originating from Moscow, a Volga Avia Express TU-134 carrying 35 passengers and 9 crew members was found in the Tula region, 125 miles south of Moscow. Witnesses in Tula reported seeing an explosion before the plane plunged out of the sky.

Sources within US Intelligence Agencies have expressed concern for an increase of terrorist events in the United States in the days leading up to the November presidential elections. Intelligence analysts from the Northeast Intelligence Network have found signs of cooperative efforts between Chechen separatist rebels and Islamic fundamentalists from al Qaeda, especially in recent months, based on Internet communications and US government sources. This incident appears to have the signature of al Qaeda, and is privately causing further concern for the November elections here in the US.

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Terror in the US Skies

Harmless Glitch or Internal Security Breach?

27 August 2004: As we reported earlier, air traffic controllers lost radio contact with hundreds of airplanes in-flight on Tuesday over the western portion of the US. As a result, there were five “close calls” involving planes in-flight and at least two near-mid-air collisions, according to air traffic controllers. One involved a UPS flight en route from Louisville Kentucky to Orange County, California, and another involved a Boeing 757 passenger jet headed to San Diego from Detroit.

The incidents occurred shortly after controllers lost radio contact with at least 400 aircraft traveling to and from airports in the western US. Authorities stated that a computer unexpectedly shut down because technicians “forgot” to service the computer as required every 30 days and as they did not “purge the hard drive,” the computer overloaded.

Interestingly, the backup system also failed, reportedly stopping radio transmissions to pilots in mid-sentence. Controllers describe the next 13 minutes as “chaos,” as some planes began to converge. Hamid Ghaffari, local president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association told The Associated Press three workers filed injury claims, saying they were traumatized by seeing flights veer toward one another on radar without being able to do anything.

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Suspicious activity reported involving ambulances

19 August 2004: The following alert was released by Westchester County Department of Emergency Services based on information from New Jersey authorities and should be practiced by all agencies.

Within the past week, the Office of Counter-Terrorism received three reports of suspicious activity concerning ambulances.

The most recent incident involved an individual who attended an open-house at an ambulance squad in Middlesex County . The man, who claimed he was from Pakistan and a physician,asked a series of questions to the squad members that related exclusively to the operation of the emergency vehicles, including the speed at which the vehicles responded to calls and the use of the lights and sirens. The individual appeared very nervous, did not ask about patient care, and left the premises when asked to complete a membership application.

The second incident occurred at a hospital in Essex County and involved an inquiry made by a male of Middle-Eastern appearance who was first observed standing near an ambulance at the emergency room doors while writing notes in a small notepad. When confronted by the vehicle’s operator, a firefighter/EMT, the man asserted that he was employed as an ambulance mechanic. He then asked where a nearby fire department serviced its vehicles. The man provided an illegible New York driver’s license when asked to produce identification before leaving the premises.

Lastly, OCT received information concerning an unusual attempt by three men of Middle-Eastern appearance to join a volunteer ambulance squad. The men expressed to squad members an “abnormal interest” in operating the emergency vehicles, and further insisted that the process by which they obtain the appropriate credentials and certifications to join the squad be expedited at their personal expense.

Due to the recent threat elevation to ORANGE (HIGH) for the financial sector and intelligence relating to the threat of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), any suspicious activity relating to emergency vehicles is of particular concern and should be reported to law enforcement immediately. As demonstrated by recent attacks in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and elsewhere, terrorist operatives worldwide continue to rely on VBIEDs as a method of attack. This tactic has been used here in the past, notably in the 1993 World Trade Center and 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.

The World Trade Center and Oklahoma City attacks were carried out with rented vehicles, highlighting the need for awareness among the car, truck, and limousine rental community of the potential for vehicle-borne attacks in the United States.

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New York man admits to aiding al Qaeda

11 August 2004: A New York man has admitted to smuggling money and military supplies to a senior member of al Qaeda in Pakistan, setting up a jihad training camp and assisting in a bombing plot in the United Kingdom.

Mohammed Junaid Babar, a naturalized American originally from Pakistan, pleaded guilty June 2 to five counts of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, as well as providing the support, according to a court transcript made public Tuesday.

Babar is being held without bail and faces up to 70 years in prison, but Federal Judge Victor Marrero indicated Babar will serve less jail time under a plea deal.

Babar has agreed to cooperate fully with any investigation or prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and he may apply to the witness security program, which would relocate his family under a new identity.

Babar told Marrero he provided night-vision goggles, sleeping bags, waterproof socks, waterproof ponchos and money to a high-ranking al Qaeda official in South Waziristan, a Pakistani region near the Afghan border.

Babar said he delivered the supplies personally in January and February 2004 and someone else transported the items in the summer of 2003.

“I understood that the money and supplies that I had given to al Qaeda was supposed to be used in Afghanistan … against U.S. or … international forces or against the Northern Alliance,” Babar said.

The Northern Alliance helped remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan by joining forces with U.S. and British soldiers.

“I set up a jihad training camp,” Babar told the court, “where those who wanted to go into Afghanistan where they could learn how to use weapons, and also, you know, any explosive devices that they wanted to test out over there.”

Babar, 29, confessed he supplied people who attended the training camp with aluminum powder and attempted to buy ammonium nitrate for them “with the knowledge that it was going to be used for a plot somewhere in the U.K.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Baroni said in court that Babar’s training camp lasted for three to four weeks in July 2003 and he was involved in planning a bomb plot in Britain from around December 2002 until about March 2004.

Baroni said prosecutors had witnesses, documents and other physical evidence to prove the case against Babar.

Babar, who grew up in the New York borough of Queens, was arrested after he returned from Pakistan in April.

One senior law enforcement source said Babar had been “on the radar screen” before he taken into custody.

Babar is believed to have been associated with a group in London known as al Muhajiroun, which includes Pakistani terrorists, according to law enforcement sources.

Al Muhajiroun was under British surveillance and members of the group purchased nearly a ton of ammonium nitrate, a raw material used to make bombs, the source said.

British police foiled an apparent bomb plot March 30 when they arrested eight men and seized about 1,320 pounds (600 kg) of ammonium nitrate from a self-storage warehouse in west London.

Six of the men — five of Pakistani descent — were charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and possessing ammonium nitrate for possible use in terrorism.

Ammonium nitrate was a key ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995, killing 168 people, as well as a bomb that destroyed a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002, killing more than 200.

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New York man admits to aiding Al Qaeda

11 August 2004: A New York man has admitted to smuggling money and military supplies to a senior member of al Qaeda in Pakistan, setting up a jihad training camp and assisting in a bombing plot in the United Kingdom.

Mohammed Junaid Babar, a naturalized American originally from Pakistan, pleaded guilty June 2 to five counts of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, as well as providing the support, according to a court transcript made public Tuesday.

Babar is being held without bail and faces up to 70 years in prison, but Federal Judge Victor Marrero indicated Babar will serve less jail time under a plea deal.

Babar has agreed to cooperate fully with any investigation or prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and he may apply to the witness security program, which would relocate his family under a new identity.

Babar told Marrero he provided night-vision goggles, sleeping bags, waterproof socks, waterproof ponchos and money to a high-ranking al Qaeda official in South Waziristan, a Pakistani region near the Afghan border.

Babar said he delivered the supplies personally in January and February 2004 and someone else transported the items in the summer of 2003. “I understood that the money and supplies that I had given to al Qaeda was supposed to be used in Afghanistan … against U.S. or … international forces or against the Northern Alliance,” Babar said.

The Northern Alliance helped remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan by joining forces with U.S. and British soldiers.

“I set up a jihad training camp,” Babar told the court, “where those who wanted to go into Afghanistan where they could learn how to use weapons, and also, you know, any explosive devices that they wanted to test out over there.”

Babar, 29, confessed he supplied people who attended the training camp with aluminum powder and attempted to buy ammonium nitrate for them “with the knowledge that it was going to be used for a plot somewhere in the U.K.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Baroni said in court that Babar’s training camp lasted for three to four weeks in July 2003 and he was involved in planning a bomb plot in Britain from around December 2002 until about March 2004.

Baroni said prosecutors had witnesses, documents and other physical evidence to prove the case against Babar.

Babar, who grew up in the New York borough of Queens, was arrested after he returned from Pakistan in April.

One senior law enforcement source said Babar had been “on the radar screen” before he taken into custody.

Babar is believed to have been associated with a group in London known as al Muhajiroun, which includes Pakistani terrorists, according to law enforcement sources.

Al Muhajiroun was under British surveillance and members of the group purchased nearly a ton of ammonium nitrate, a raw material used to make bombs, the source said.

British police foiled an apparent bomb plot March 30 when they arrested eight men and seized about 1,320 pounds (600 kg) of ammonium nitrate from a self-storage warehouse in west London.

Six of the men — five of Pakistani descent — were charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and possessing ammonium nitrate for possible use in terrorism.

Ammonium nitrate was a key ingredient in the bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1995, killing 168 people, as well as a bomb that destroyed a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002, killing more than 200.

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Charlotte, NC Police Arrest Suspected Terrorist - Had Videos of Buildings

10 August 2004: Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory announced Tuesday the arrest of a foreign national believed to be a terror suspect. The U.S. Attorney announced late Tuesday morning that federal authorities were holding a Pakistani foreign national in Charlotte who is suspected of videotaping landmarks in the city, including the Bank of America and Wachovia buildings.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested Kamran Acktar SHAIKH, of Elmhurst, N.Y., on July 20 near the intersection of South Tryon Street and Stonewall Avenue. Videotapes found in his possession include footage of buildings in Atlanta, Austin, Houston, Dallas and New Orleans, as well as transit systems in those cities.

Acktar, who is also known as Kamran Shaikh, is being held on immigration violations. According to the affadavit, Shaikh was in the United States illegally, having crossed over the border near Tijuana, Mexico.

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