Thursday, 28 January 2016

Nominee of Afghan commander pledges to reassess troop levels

The general tapped to take over the command of troops in Afghanistan promised Thursday to make a recommendation on troop levels after his first 90 days in the role.
“I think after the initial 90 days, I'll have a good sense of where we are building on the experience we have, and of course, if confirmed, sir, the chance to do some more thorough discussions with Gen. [John] Campbell and with the team on the ground,” Lt. Gen. John "Mick" Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Obama nominates Nicolson:
President Obama on Wednesday nominated Nicholson to take over as the commander of U.S. and allied troops when Campbell’s tour of duty ends.
Right now, there are about 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan on a mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan forces and counterterrorism. The number of troops is set to fall to about 5,500 by the end of the year.
But the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating, and there are a number of capabilities the Afghan forces still need to develop, Nicholson said. Some of those capabilities include intelligence gathering and air support.
“There are certain capabilities that simply take years and years to develop, and they have not achieved a level of efficiency in those areas,” he said.
Nicholson declined to provide a specific number of troops he thinks is necessary for the mission, saying he needs to be confirmed and assess the situation on the ground.
Senators on the committee indicated they were pleased with Nicholson’s position on troop levels.
“I believe that you are eminently qualified,” Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at the end of the hearing.
McCain also reiterated his longstanding view that the troop withdrawal should be halted.
“As the security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, it makes no strategic or military sense to continue the withdrawal of American forces,” he said. “Indeed, our military commanders increasingly realize that preventing the reemergence of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan will require a long-term partnership with Afghan government and military similar to the U.S. role in South Korea or Colombia.”
US Senators view on Afghan Commander nomination:
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member on the committee, also indicated the drawdown should be adjusted.
“I believe that any recommendations you might make on this front should be given great weight,” he told Nicholson.
McCain said he hopes to bring Nicholson’s nomination to the Senate floor next week.
News Edited By: Kanwal Abidi *Journalist and Political Analyst
                                                       063 News (Global Press Agency)

ISIL hacker arrives in US to face charges

Hacking to infiltrate "classified" is fast growing to contribute towards making terror plans effective

Ardit Ferizi, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, made his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia on charges alleging that he provided material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and committed computer hacking and identity theft violations in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information (PII) of U.S. servicemembers and federal employees.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Michelle S. Klimt of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division made the announcement.
FERIZI seeks Waived Extradition:
Ferizi, who was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the United States, was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015.  The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015.  Ferizi subsequently waived extradition.
If convicted, Ferizi faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison.  The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Case Under Investigation:
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Jacksonville Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.  The Malaysian authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance
Editors Note:
Waived Extradition. When a subject is arrested on a warrant from another state, the subject has the right to contest that warrant in a court in this state. In this case the subject has waived extradition and is returned to the state issuing the warrant.
Hence, Ferizi, went for Waived Extradition.
However, FBI will conduct the full inquiry into the case and will not spare him of convicting him, if he pleads guilty or is found to have followed "the ISIL hacking ideology"
News Edited By: Kanwal Abidi *Journalist and Political Analyst
                                                                063 News (Global Press Agency)

Clinton's email probed by FBI

Six months after it began, the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server shows no signs of slowing down.
Former FBI officials said the length of the probe is not unusual and speculated that a decision on whether to file charges against Clinton or her top aides could come later this year, during the heat of the general election campaign
“I don’t know that there’s any magical cutoff date,” said Ron Hosko, the FBI’s former assistant director of the criminal investigative division and a 30-year veteran of the bureau.
Anxiety for Democrats:
For Democrats, the extended investigation has become a source of some anxiety, with Republicans gleefully raising the prospect of the Democratic presidential front-runner being indicted.
“It does give pause to Democrats who are concerned that there may be another shoe to drop down the road,” said Andrew Smith, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire.
The government has been examining the former secretary of State's private email server since last July, when the inspector general for the intelligence community issued a security referral noting that classified information could have been mishandled.
That referral came months after Clinton acknowledged that she had exclusively used a personal email address housed on a private server during her tenure as secretary.
1300 emails marked classified:
The scrutiny of her email practices has mounted since then, with more than 1,300 emails that passed through her server found to contain information that has since been classified, some at the highest levels.
The State Department and Clinton’s campaign contend that none of the information in the emails was classified when it was originally sent, and they have portrayed the matter as an inter-agency dispute.

FBI wants "Independent" probe, NOT Politically oriented:
Officials have indicated that the bureau is not targeting Clinton specifically, however, but is investigating whether any information on her account was mishandled. Earlier this month, Fox News reported that the FBI had expanded its inquiry to examine how the State Department’s work intersected with the Clinton family foundation.
In December, FBI Director James Comey pledged that the probe would be “competent,” “honest” and “independent.”
“We don't give a rip about politics,” he told a Senate committee.
Yet the FBI is well aware of the high political stakes surrounding the investigation.
“I think the clock ticks louder every day,” said Hosko, who is the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. “I’m sure they’re all incredibly sensitive to it.”
President Obama has downplayed Clinton’s email setup, claiming that it was “not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
Multiple former officials, lawmakers and lawyers have said they are confident that Comey, who is a Republican, will not let the presidential campaign influence the FBI’s investigation. 
Yet many conservatives worry that even if the bureau comes up with sufficient evidence that Clinton broke the law, the Justice Department will decline to press charges. In response, some have pressed for a special prosecutor to be appointed, or for the FBI to pledge to release whatever evidence it digs up. 
Democrats downplaying it as partisan attack by Republicans:
So far, Democrats have publicly shrugged of the threat of criminal action by painting it as a partisan attack from Republicans.
Clinton’s top rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), channeled the feelings of Democrats in October when he told Clinton during a debate that “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
But Clinton will have to confront the issue more forcefully if charges are filed. 
And should Clinton win the nomination, the topic is sure to be an issue in the general election campaign — even if no indictment is handed down. 
A fight over the emails then could weaken Democratic enthusiasm and turn off swing voters, some analysts predicted. 
“More likely, it’s going to sour some of those folks in the middle,” said Doug Roscoe, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
“Having to be in the news talking about this investigation takes her off message,” he added.
It might not be Clinton herself who faces the music for any potential crime, however.
The former secretary of State did not appear to send most of the emails now marked classified. Instead, they were largely sent or forwarded to her by aides.
“It’d be a lot harder to make a criminal charge for having received [classified] information," said Bradley Moss, a lawyer who specializes in national security and protection of classified information
Mills, Abedin and Sullivan - faces threat of indictment:
“If I’m in Clinton’s campaign, I’m more worried - if am Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin or Jake Sullivan than if I’m Hillary Clinton,” Moss said. 
Mills, Abedin and Sullivan were all top aides of Clinton’s at the State Department. Abedin and Sullivan continue to hold high positions in Clinton’s presidential campaign. 
“The sloppiness and the complete fundamental failure to comply with any aspect of operational and informational security is what puts them at risk,” Moss said. “You just can’t do that that many times and not expect to find yourself in trouble.”

News Edited By: Kanwal Abidi  *Political Journalist & Analyst
                                                       063 News (Global Press Agency)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Obama playing "even cards" with Sanders and Clinton

President Obama isn’t trying to tip the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race, Bernie Sanders said Wednesday following a meeting at the White House.
It was the Vermont senator’s first one-on-one meeting with Obama since emerging as a force in the Democratic presidential primary, and came days after Obama came close to endorsing Clinton in an interview, saying she would be more ready to be president on her first day in office than anyone who had not previously served as vice president. 
Sanders downplayed those comments, while playing up his ties to Obama.
Obama's "even-handed" stance:
The senator said Obama has struck an “even-handed” stance towards the candidates running to replace him.
“There was some discussion the other day about a Politico interview where he was tipping the scales towards Secretary Clinton. I don’t believe that at all,” the Vermont senator told reporters on the West Wing driveway after the 45-minute meeting.
Sanders conceded he has clashed with the president in the past, but he lauded the Obama administration’s efforts to dig the country out of the recession. 
“We have got to do a lot better to protect the middle class and working families,” he said. “But it is also important to remember how far we have come in the last seven years under the leadership of President Obama and Vice President Biden.”
And Sanders struck a contrast with Clinton, noting both Obama and he initially opposed the war in Iraq. 
“I voted against the war in Iraq and that's a major point of difference between Secretary Clinton and myself,” he said. “We both received the same information and we came to a different conclusion.”
The rare meeting, which has been in the works since last month, is a recognition of Sanders’ strength. It came just days before the Iowa caucuses, where polls show he is running neck-and-neck with Clinton.
Sanders appeared bullish about his chances in the Hawkeye State, but also downplayed expectations he would pull off a stunning upset of Clinton there like Obama did eight years ago. 
“We’re feeling really good about where we are,” he said. “Now, I'm not saying we could do what Barack Obama did in 2008. I wish we could but I don't think we can. But if there is a large turnout, I think we win.”
Clinton and Sanders have both been praising Obama on the campaign trail as they hope to attract his supporters — particularly ahead of the Feb. 27 South Carolina primary, where African-Americans will be an important voting bloc.  
Obama NOT choosing sides:
The meeting was also a chance for Obama to demonstrate he’s not officially choosing sides in the race to succeed him. 
Sanders said he discussed domestic issues, foreign policy and “a little bit of politics” with Obama, but he declined to ask for his endorsement. 
“The president has not issued an endorsement in the race,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said immediately after the meeting. “At this point he doesn't plan to.”
Earnest argued that an early endorsement from the president would hurt — and not help —the Democrats keep control of the White House. 
But that didn’t stop reporters from peppering him with questions about Obama’s leanings in the race. 
“Looks like you're all feeling the Bern,” Earnest joked after Sanders’ press scrum, which was attended by more than two dozen reporters and photographers.
Clinton, who spent four years as Obama’s secretary of State, is widely viewed as his preferred candidate in the Democratic race. 
She has picked up endorsements from four of the president’s cabinet members and several senior Obama aides have gone to work for Clinton’s campaign. The president has met multiple times behind closed doors with Clinton, most recently last month.
By contrast, Sanders has only had one one-on-one meeting, in December 2014, with Obama during his presidency.
The president heaped praise on his former top diplomat in an interview with Politico. Obama also lauded Sanders for energizing the Democratic base with his focus on income inequality. But he added a qualifier, saying the liberal firebrand has enjoyed the benefit “just letting loose” because he entered the race as a long-shot candidate. 
He referred to Sanders as a “bright, shiny object” for voters and suggested the more experienced Clinton is best equipped to protect his legacy. 
“The longer you go in the process, the more you’re going to have to pass a series of hurdles that the voters are going to put in front of you, because the one thing everybody understands is that [with] this job right here, you don’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” he said. 
Sanders and Obama see eye-to-eye on issues such as same-sex marriage and climate change. But the two have openly clashed in the past.
Just one day before their meeting, Sanders announced he is formally blocking Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration over his ties to the pharmaceutical industry. 
Past Election campaign:
The senator in 2010 railed against the president’s plan to extend several Bush-era tax cuts in a lengthy floor speech that came to be known as the “Filibernie.” 
He also suggested the 2012 presidential race would benefit from a primary candidate challenging Obama from the left.  
“If a progressive Democrat were to run, I think it would enliven the debate,” he said during a 2011 interview on WNYC Radio.
Five years later, Sanders’ tune is different. 
“In 2008, I did my best to see that he would be elected president, campaigned hard for him, as I did in 2012,” he told reporters Wednesday.
News Edited By:   KANWAL ABIDI   *Political Analyst & Journalist
                                                              063 News (Global Press Agency)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

American Spy missing in Iran

Levinson SAGA Begins OR Ends? 
It’s been nine years since Robert Levinson went missing in Iran, and nobody seems to know where he is — or even if he’s still alive.
The former FBI officer’s saga feels ripped from the pages of a spy novel, but is all too real for the Levinson family, who say the U.S. government abandoned a patriot after a rogue CIA operation went south.
Friends and family have been especially vocal this week, when Levinson was not among the Americans freed by Iran in exchange for prisoners in the U.S.
“It’s very personal with us,” said Nancy Savage, Levinson’s former supervisor and the executive director of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.
The family has “reached our breaking point” and is “crushed and outraged,” Levinson’s daughter, Sarah Moriarty, wrote in a CNN op-ed.

Levinson - out of US-Iran Prisoner Swap Deal:
Nine years after Levinson’s disappearance, those who want him home the most worry the U.S. has given up. By not including him in last weekend’s prisoner swap or as a part of the nuclear deal with Iran, friends and family say Levinson has become like a soldier stuck behind enemy lines. 
The Obama administration believes that the former FBI agent is no longer in Iran.
Iran, for its part, claims to have no idea where he is.
If still alive, Levinson would be the longest-held hostage in American history. 
Levinson went missing from Iran’s Kish Island in 2007, while on a secret, rogue operation to gather information for the CIA.
The former Drug Enforcement Agency official had spent more than two decades at the FBI. Working from the FBI’s New York and Miami offices, he focused on the mafia, Latin American drug cartels and Russian criminal organizations operating in the U.S.
He left the government in 1998. But personal emails that have since come to light suggest that Levinson missed the high-flying adventure that comes with being a special agent.
In 2006, Levinson became a contractor for the CIA. The job led to unauthorized operations that spiraled into a nearly decade-long scandal, forced three people from their jobs and may have cost Levinson his life.
CIA PAID Levinson's Wife $2.5 Million:
The Obama administration still refuses to acknowledge Levinson’s secret ties to the spy agency, even though the CIA reportedly paid his wife $2.5 million to scuttle a lawsuit. The CIA, FBI and National Security Council all declined to comment for this story.
Analysts and experts now say that Levinson’s 2007 travel to Iran was poorly planned, and that alarm bells should have gone off.
The visit appears never to have been sanctioned by agency officials. Even months after the fact, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared unaware that Levinson was working with the U.S. government, according to a classified diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
“You can say with pretty high confidence this was an independent operation launched by an individual or individuals who really didn’t know what they were doing,” said Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer and current senior fellow at the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Gerecht blamed the disappearance on Levinson, who he says should have known better.
As an American in Iranian territory, Gerecht said, Levinson would have been a “sitting duck” for the Iranian government.
In an email earlier in 2007, Levinson appeared to acknowledge he was putting himself in harm’s way.
“I am questioning just why, at this point, with seven kids and a great wife, why would I put myself in such jeopardy,” he wrote, according to a copy of the email published by the New York Times.
Kish Island is a free-trade zone off the coast of Iran, which Levinson would not have needed a visa to be able to visit.
CONNECTION to Dawud Salahuddin:
Working under cover, he was supposed to connect with Dawud Salahuddin, an alleged assassin accused of killing an Iranian dissident at his Bethesda, Md., home in 1980.
“He told me he was there on behalf of British American Tobacco, and he wanted to talk to some Iranian officials about cigarette smuggling in the Persian Gulf,” Salahuddin, the last person known to have seen Levinson before his disappearance, told Time magazine in 2013. “Of course I had no idea that he was misrepresenting himself.
Levinson made clear he didn’t want to stay long.
“[I] know i’d feel a lot better spending as little time there as i have to,” he wrote to Ira Silverman, a retired journalist who put Levinson in touch with Salahuddin, weeks before the meeting.
Levinson at Kish Island:
Levinson checked in to Kish Island’s Maryam Hotel on March 8, 2007, and checked out the next day.
After that, the trail goes cold.
The CIA has been blamed for covering up its relationship with Levinson, which may have delayed an effort to find him.
“There were a lot of mistakes made by the CIA in the handling of it,” said Ellen Glasser, a former president of the FBI alumni group who has closely tracked Levinson’s case. “I believe that because of the way it was handled by the CIA, the matter didn’t probably get the immediate attention that it deserved when he disappeared in 2007.”
Iran’s state-owned Press TV reported in 2007 that Levinson was “in the hands of Iranian security forces.”
In a classified diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Rice suggested that Levinson might either be in the hands of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or “Iranian proxies” who are holding him outside the country.
The CIA officer who recruited Levinson, Anne Jablonski, has reportedly since been fired. Her boss and another colleague resigned under pressure.
In late 2010, Levinson’s family was sent a “proof of life” video in which he asked for help from the government to find him. Six months later, the family received pictures showing the formerly doughy Levinson as a gaunt man with an unruly beard and mane of grey, unkempt hair.
That video appeared to have been sent from an Internet café in Pakistan, and Pashtun wedding music from Pakistan or Afghanistan could be heard playing in the background.
The FBI has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Levinson’s return.
Iran maintains that it that it is committed to helping the U.S. find him, though many watchers remain skeptical. Some suspect that he has been dead for years.

WHAT US Senators think about this case?
The Iranians have a responsibility to account for him since he disappeared in Iran,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) fumed to reporters this week.
“I think there is genuine uncertainty as to his whereabouts,”
added Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), the top Democrat on the 
House Foreign Relations Committee. 

News Edited By: KANWAL ABIDI 
                                    *Political Analyst & Journalist
                            063 News (Global Press Agency)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

US Senate blocks Refugee Legislation

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked legislation 55-43 that would crack down on the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought approval of a handful of amendments to the legislation, including one on Donald Trump's push to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

Republicans ripped the attempt to link the bill to the GOP presidential front-runner.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the effort "ridiculous" and said Democrats were trivializing the refugee issue "by bringing the circus to town on the floor of the Senate."

The refugee legislation, which passed the House late last year, would "pause" the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S. until the Obama administration certifies that they aren't a national security threat. Sixty votes were needed to move forward.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) slammed Senate Democrats, calling their decision to block the legislation "irresponsible."

"Our approach balances security and compassion, and it was backed by a veto-proof majority in the House," he said.


News Edited By:   Kanwal Abidi *Political Analyst & Journalist
                                            063 News (Global Press Agency)

FBI catches Five Chinese Scientists

Scientists Indicted For Allegedly Stealing Biopharmaceutical Trade Secrets

An indictment was filed today charging five people in an alleged scheme to steal biopharmaceutical trade secrets from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.  
Names of Chinese charged:
Charged in the conspiracy are: Yu Xue, 45, of Wayne, PA; Tao Li, 42, of Nanjing, China; Yan Mei, 36, of Nanjing, China; Tian Xue, 45, of Charlotte, NC; and Lucy Xi, 38, of West Lake Village, CA.  

Details of Indictment:
The indictment includes charges of conspiracy to steal trade secrets, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, theft of trade secrets, and wire fraud.
 Yu Xue and Lucy Xi were scientists working at GSK’s research facility in Upper Merion, PA.  According to the indictment, the defendants engaged in a scheme to steal trade secrets related to GSK research data, procedures, and manufacturing processes for biopharmaceutical products.  Many of the biopharmaceutical products targeted were designed to treat cancer or other serious diseases.  Yu Xue, Tao Li, and Yan Mei formed a corporation in China called Renopharma allegedly to market and sell the stolen trade secret information.  It is further alleged that in order to hide the proceeds of the crime, Yu Xue, Tao Li, and Yan Mei agreed to title the proceeds in the name of Yu Xue’s sister, Tian Xue, and other family members.
Punishment entailing:
If convicted of all charges, each defendant faces a possible prison term, fines, restitution, special assessments, and a term of supervised release.
Case under Investigation:
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Livermore.
Editors's Note:
Chinese are expanding their arms into every kind of under hand techniques to steal trade secrets from America. Even scientists are not sparing the crime of stealing trade secrets. In Pakistan, they have paved their way through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and making friends with PM Nawaz Shareef to get all kinds of benefits in return. 
FBI should be cautious in granting visas to the Chinese, whether they come for visit, study or business. Careful evaluation should be done and all  those present there in America,  their data should be maintained, including their relatives - to stop such money laundering issues within Chinese families.
News Edited By:     KANWAL ABIDI   *Political Analyst & Journalist
                                                                      063 News Global Press Agency

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Pentagon focuses on ISIS hackers

The killing of two Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) hackers is raising new questions about whether the Pentagon is targeting the group's tech-savvy members.
Focusing on digital leaders in ISIS could be an effective way to counteract the extremist group's online recruitment — an area where the U.S. has struggled — military and cyber experts say.
“You might impact the propaganda which is getting them a lot of attention, a lot of young members in Western countries who are being radicalized,” said Robert Lee, a former cyber officer in the Air Force and co-founder of Dragos Security, which helps secure critical infrastructure networks.
But Lee and others caution that the U.S. could be on a slippery slope going after these “hackers,” who some describe as more digital pranksters than actual cyber threats.
“The U.S. has to be very careful here,” Lee said.
“The fact that someone’s involved in hacking or cyber anything should never be the justification for the strike,” he added. “But if they’ve made the kill list, applying some sort of prioritization based on that [skill] absolutely could be a very good consideration.”
ISIS hacking groups have become a notable presence on the Internet, defacing media outlets’ websites, leaking U.S. military members’ personal details, taking over high-profile Twitter accounts, even stealing credit card data.
The unexpected digital achievements have given the extremist group a valuable propaganda outlet and a platform to encourage lone wolf attacks.
According to Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), this digital know-how is the product of an ISIS campaign to recruit computer engineers.
“That’s been a part of their message since they began,” he said.
Stalinsky is the co-author of a recent report on Islamic State hacking that identified 45 separate, successful ISIS cyberattacks in 2015, ranging from the defacement of a website for a horse riding company in Alabama to the release of military members’ personal details.
“It hasn’t been hugely sophisticated, but it’s more terrorizing people,” he said.
Most conspicuously, ISIS-affiliated hackers last January took over the U.S. Central Command (Centcom) Twitter and YouTube accounts. For 30 minutes, the digital assailants tweeted out pro-ISIS messages and spreadsheets with military officials’ information.
JUNAID HUSSAIN - Key person in Digital ISIS:
In August, a U.S. drone strike killed Junaid Hussain, who was tied to a number of ISIS hacking incidents over the past few years.
Hussain was believed to be the head of the so-called Cyber Caliphate, one of several informal ISIS hacking groups, and was linked to the release of personal information on over 1,300 U.S. military and government employees.
More importantly, Hussain was known as a prominent online recruiter, encouraging western sympathizers to carry out lone-wolf attacks.
“He had significant technical skills, and he had expressed a strong desire to kill Americans, and recruit others to kill Americans,” Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder told reporters after the strike.
Two months later, Malaysian authorities arrested Ardit Ferizi, who had allegedly provided Hussain with the data on U.S. personnel. The Justice Department, which charged Ferizi and is trying to extradite him to the U.S., alleges he hacked an American company to steal the sensitive data.
“This case is a first of its kind,” assistant attorney general John Carlin said in a statement.
Other Digital ISIS hackers:
Then, in early December, another U.S. drone strike took out a lesser-known ISIS hacker, Siful Haque Sujan.
Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the military’s operation to eliminate ISIS, described Sujan as a British-educated computer systems engineer who worked on hacking efforts and anti-surveillance technology.
Now that he's dead, ISIL has lost a key link between networks,” he said, using another acronym for the group.
Outside experts were hesitant to describe the three novel incidents as the result of a specific Pentagon strategy, but said they show the military’s desire to attack ISIS’s online recruitment.
“I think there is a campaign going on,” said Malcolm Nance, a counterterrorism and cryptology expert who is the executive director of The Terror Asymmetrics Project.
Since July, he said, there’s been a notable uptick in U.S. airstrikes taking out high-ranking ISIS members. The White House on Friday said coalition airstrikes in December had killed “dozens” of senior ISIS operatives.
“We are literally cutting through this organization’s senior management like a scythe,” Nance said.
He believes the military strikes have focused on digitally-savvy members.
“Degrading their system of propaganda and their ability to operate overtly, clandestinely in the dark Web is going to be one of our highest priorities,” said Nance, who authored an upcoming book, “Defeating ISIS,” which details strategies to counteract ISIS online.
Experts unanimously said the government has been ineffective at using its own digital propaganda to counter ISIS’s Internet recruitment.
“It’s hard for us to go tit for tat [on propaganda] with ISIS, which is very decentralized and is able to put up what they want,” explained Michael McNerney, a former cybersecurity policy advisor for the secretary of Defense who now runs anti-hacking firm Efflux Systems.
“We have no response for that, he added. “We certainly know how to drop missiles."
Experts believe a few well-placed missiles could significantly disrupt ISIS’s hacking efforts.
But others are more cautious and say ISIS can quickly fill its ranks.
“The mantle just gets passed and someone else steps in,” Stalinsky said.
When Hussain went down, his Cyber Caliphate hacking group was greatly diminished, according to researchers. But other groups have popped up in its place, Stalinsky said.
ISIS Online Recruitment:
Most are hesitant to believe a military campaign could significantly degrade ISIS’s broader online propaganda.
ISIS’s online recruitment efforts are deeply entrenched, explained Christopher Ahlberg, the Head of Recorded Future, which analyzes online threats.
“These guys, over a long period of time, years, have build up this... online recruiting capability,” he said, warning that drone strikes alone won't eradicate that.
“They have a solid jihadist product.”
News Edited By:   KANWAL ABIDI    *Journalist & Political Analyst
                                063 News (Global Press Agency)
Dated:  17th Jan 2016

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Update on San Bernardino Attack

The couple who carried out the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack last year also tried to detonate a bomb in the building, the FBI said Friday.

David Bowdich, the bureau’s top investigator into the Dec. 2 attack, said Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik likely attempted to detonate a pipe bomb hidden inside of a bag at the Inland Regional Center, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Bowdich said the agency is still unsure whether the couple planned to detonate the bomb on first responders or paramedics tending to the wounded after the attack.

Farook brought the bag carrying the bomb into the facility when he arrived at 8:37 a.m., Bowdich said. The bomb was “armed and ready to detonate,” and police found a remote control for a toy car in the couple’s SUV.

The couple drove around San Bernardino and Redlands for several hours before their deaths in a gunfight with police. During that window, they did not stray far from the building.

A federal official previously told the Times that they may not have been able to set off the device because the remote was out of range.


Bowdich said the mystery remains unsolved, as they have NOT been able to find any schematics or written plans indicating how they might use the bomb.

“And I will be quite frank: I am not sure we will ever know that answer,” he said.

The two attackers killed 14 and injured 21 in the attack. Authorities said Malik pledged her support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in a social media message at the time of the massacre.


Editor's Note:

We all saw 9/11, and till today - we are "square one", in fact a step further, because radicalization has grown to its core and on an ascending graph. 
The pipe bombs being made at a garage, where the neighbor thinks - the other is a simple, couple surviving a life in America, is an alarming sign of hatred and radicalization!
This needs to be checked now - before the world goes into Armageddon !!!


News Edited By: KANWAL ABIDI     *Political Analyst & Journalist
                                                             063 News (Global Press Agency) 

Monday, 11 January 2016

PHAM a/k/a Amin pleads guilty to US Federal Court

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

Friday, January 8, 2016

Member Of Al Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Terrorism Charges

            Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Paul M. Abbate, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Washington, D.C., Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that MINH QUANG PHAM, a/k/a “Amin,” pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to terrorism charges based upon PHAM’s efforts in support of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  PHAM was arrested in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2012, and was extradited to the United States on February 26, 2015.  PHAM pled guilty today to one count of providing material support to AQAP, one count of conspiring to receive military training from AQAP, and one count of possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence.
            Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As he has now admitted in an American court of law, Minh Quang Pham swore a terrorist’s oath to wage jihad for AQAP.  Pham traveled to Yemen to receive terrorist training, including instructions in bomb-making by the now-deceased senior AQAP leader Anwar Aulaqi.  Vowing to wage violent jihad and brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle, Pham provided material support to the highest levels of AQAP.  Now, all that awaits him is sentencing for his admitted acts of terrorism.”
            Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: "Minh Quang Pham provided material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and received explosives training from Anwar Aulaqi while in Yemen".  With his guilty plea, he will be held accountable for his terrorist activities.  
Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority, and we will continue to bring justice to those who seek to aid designated foreign terrorist organizations in their efforts to wage violent attacks against the United States and our allies.
            FBI Assistant Director Paul M. Abbate said: “Defendant Minh Quang Pham sought and received military-style training from an al Qaeda affiliate with the intent to martyr himself and inflict harm on behalf of the group.  He also attempted to inspire others toward violence through the preparation and dissemination of terrorist propaganda.  This case and the subsequent extradition of Pham underscores the unwavering resolve of the FBI and our international law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue and capture dangerous terrorists anywhere in the world and bring them to face justice in the United States.
            According to the Indictment, extradition materials and court filings, and statements made at related court proceedings, including today’s guilty plea:
            AQAP was designated by the United States Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization in January 2010.  AQAP’s leadership has publicly claimed responsibility for plots to murder U.S. nationals and commit terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, in which an AQAP operative attempted to detonate an explosive device on a civilian airplane traveling to Detroit, Michigan.  Only months later, AQAP attempted to detonate explosive devices within the holds of commercial airliners traveling to the United States.
            In December 2010, after informing others that he planned to travel to Ireland, PHAM traveled from London, where he resided, to Yemen, the principal base of operations for AQAP.   PHAM traveled to Yemen in order to join AQAP, to wage jihad on behalf of AQAP, and to martyr himself for AQAP’s cause.  After arriving in Yemen, he swore an oath of loyalty to AQAP in the presence of an AQAP commander.
            While in Yemen in 2010 and 2011, PHAM provided assistance to and received training from Anwar Aulaqi, a U.S.-born senior leader of AQAP.  Prior to Aulaqi’s death in September 2011, Aulaqi called on his followers to conduct attacks against American interests abroad, including by killing American civilians.  Aulaqi personally taught PHAM how to create a lethal explosive device using household chemicals, and directed PHAM to detonate such an explosive device at the arrivals area of London’s Heathrow International Airport following PHAM’s return to the United Kingdom in 2011.
PHAM's role in the propaganda magazine - INSPIRE:
            During his time in Yemen, PHAM also assisted with the preparation of, and dissemination of, AQAP’s propaganda magazine, Inspire.  To that end, PHAM worked directly with a now-deceased U.S. citizen who was a prominent member of AQAP and responsible for editing and publishing Inspire.  In addition, Pham received training from AQAP in the use of a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and was provided with a Kalashnikov assault rifle by the organization, which he carried with him in furtherance of his activities on behalf of AQAP in Yemen.            
            On July 27, 2011, PHAM returned to the United Kingdom from Yemen.  Upon his arrival at London’s Heathrow International Airport, United Kingdom authorities detained PHAM, searched him, and recovered various materials from him.  For example, PHAM was found in possession of various electronic media that contained computer files forensically identical to those possessed by a cooperating witness who had previously reported sharing electronic documents with PHAM while they were in Yemen with AQAP.  In addition, upon his arrival in the United Kingdom from Yemen, PHAM was found to be in possession of a live round of .762 caliber armor-piercing ammunition, which is consistent with ammunition that is used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
            PHAM was arrested in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2012, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant obtained by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which then requested his extradition.  PHAM then challenged his extradition to the United States.  On February 3, 2015, a court in the United Kingdom denied PHAM’s challenge, and ordered him extradited to the United States.  PHAM arrived in the Southern District of New York on February 26, 2015.
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News Edited By:    KANWAL ABIDI  *Journalist & Political Analyst
                                 063 News - Global Press Agency       (owner/founder)