Law Enforcement and Technology

LE and Technology 2019 NCR

Technology is changing law enforcement every day. Just turn on the news and one hears about the lengthy battle to finally gain access to information on a cell phone. From database and social media tools, smart phones, body-worn cameras, HD CCTV, devices for covert operations, to numerous other technologies that are still on the drawing board-the tools of a beat cop are changing every day. Over two days individuals will explore some of the technologies, policies, legal issues, and grant options. Individuals will travel locally to a number of organizations and observe how they are using innovative technology.


Terrorism Strikes Another House of Worship

16th Street Baptist Church, (Birmingham, AL) AME Church, (Charleston, SC), Wisconsin Sikh Temple, St. Georges and St. Mark’s Churches in Egypt, Santa Maria Church in Surabaya, Pentecost Central Church, Indonesian Christian Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Philippines, Al-Askari Mosque, (Samarra, Iraq), St. Michael’s Church, (Indiana), Mount Zion AME Church, Christ Church, (Lahore, Pakistan), All Saints Church, (Peshawar, Pakistan), Hebrew Benevolent Temple, (Atlanta, GA), Macedonia Baptist Church, Temple Beth El, (Syracuse, NY), Iman Ali Mosque, St. Etienne Church, (Normandy, France), Tree of Life Synagogue, (Pittsburg, PA), Chakwal Mosque, East Texas Churches, Methodist Church, (Quetta, Pakistan), Church of Christ, (Gwoza, Nigeria),  Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, (Alindao, CAR), Coptic Church of the Virginia Mary, (Mostord, Egypt), St. Ignatius Church, (Ayar-Mbalom, Nigeria), Marmina Coptic Church, (Cairo, Egypt), Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, (Quetta, Pakistan) Al-Abbas Mosque, Quebec City Mosque, St. Paul’s ACK Church, (Ukunda, Kenya), Al Noor Mosque and Lindwood Mosque (Christchurch, New Zealand) and others. . .

It doesn’t matter what religion one practices or what House of Worship one enters to pray to God. Everyone should be able to pray and worship without violence. But that has not been the case, and the horrific killings in New Zealand are just the most recent example of a terrorist attack on Houses of Worship. The world which we live in seems to be facing more senseless violence. The evil individual who conducted the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand sought to not only kill individuals while they worshipped but also wanted to reach out using Facebook and a GoPro video camera to publish his horrific deeds. This is not the first time a terrorist sought to publish propaganda.

Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Al-Quso was supposed to videotape Al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole. But he overslept and the filming of the attack on the USS Cole never happened. Abu Musab al Zarqawi had the beheading of Nick Berg videotaped. Mohamed Merah used a GoPro to capture his violent attacks in Lyon, France in 2012. Amedy Coulibaly took hostages in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket. He then used a GoPro to capture video and upload the materials to a laptop and send out as propaganda.

The terrorist in the Christchurch mosques attacks published a manifesto to 70 people prior to beginning his horrific killing sprees. To further spread his propaganda, he painted in white names of individual terrorists, historical dates, symbols of nationalist, Neo-Nazi and anti-migration and events associated with his ideological way of thinking. Once again, we see a terrorist using social media to spread his hate-filled message. This individual sought to exploit differences on firearms, migration, social, ethnic and racial divides across the globe.

On September 18, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King spoke at the funeral for three of the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Rev. King stated that “in spite of the darkness of this hour we must not become bitter.” That is what this terrorist and others filled with hatred would want. King further stated that “Life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. But today you do not walk alone.” Over 800 ministers of all faiths and over 4,000 people attended the funeral of these three little girls. An attack on one House of Worship is an attack on all. And the families of those who were killed in New Zealand and those injured should know that they do not walk alone.

Not Surprising We are “Woefully Vulnerable”

Today on a Sunday morning news show two guests talked about some of the greatest threats and vulnerabilities faced by our country. Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Larry Ellison, the Co-Founder of Oracle both spoke of the threats our country is facing. Senator Johnson spoke about the two greatest threats to our country being homegrown violent extremists and cybersecurity. Not surprising that Senator Johnson stated that regarding cybersecurity “we are incredibly vulnerable.” He further stated that China has been stealing billions of dollars of industrial and military secrets which will impact our military advantage if allowed to continue.

Larry Ellison regarding the cyber threat spoke about criminals stealing credit cards and state actors who want to gain intelligence. A Chinese national was arrested after he used computer malware to gain access to 21.5 million records. Ellison stated that this hack by China got resumes of government employees. Then this state actor analyzed all the information and determined that these are all the people who work for the US government. Then the state actor asked, “How come some people who work in the Embassy in our capital city aren’t in the list of government employees? Maybe they all work for the CIA?” Ellison stated that the Federal government using its “own internal cyber defenses only detects about 2 ½ percent of incidents.” Ellison gave two other examples involving vulnerabilities to include the hacking of and the issue of Kaspersky Labs. The US government banned the use of a Russian software security company in government computers due to Russian espionage. Larry Ellison spoke that for years the government didn’t tell anyone of this threat. And this let Kaspersky Labs become an enormous company putting software in people’s computers.

Senator Johnson summed it up stating we are “woefully vulnerable.” In the US we tend to be reactive rather than proactive and there are too many examples of this. What we need is better partnerships and information sharing regarding current and potential threats and vulnerabilities. Without industry, government and citizens working together and closing vulnerabilities we are at risk of losing any competitive advantage we hold in the world. There are numerous state actors to include Russia, and China seeking to gain an advantage by stealing our industrial, economic and military secrets. Nor can we forget criminal actors seeking economic gain by hacking our citizens.

Remembering the Beirut Peacekeepers Thirty-five Years Later

beirut memorial

                                    “So few know or remember what we did in Beirut.”

                                                                                            -Sgt. Joe Chowske-                                                                                                                                   24th Marine Amphibious Unit

Thirty-five years ago at approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 Oct. 1983, a terrorist bomb

destroyed the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) headquarters building in the Marine

Amphibious Unit compound at Beirut International Airport. The catastrophic attack

took the lives of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

The bombing was carried out by one lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes Benz

stake-bed truck that accelerated through the public parking lot south of the BLT

headquarters building, where it exploded. The truck drove over the barbed wire

obstacle, passed between two Marine guard posts without being engaged by fire,

entered an open gate, passed around one sewer pipe barrier and between two

others flattened the Sergeant of the Guard’s sandbagged booth at the building’s

entrance penetrated the lobby of the building and detonated while the majority

of the occupants slept. The force of the explosion [12,000 pounds] ripped the building

from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself. Almost all the occupants

were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.

Hezbollah and the Iranians were perfecting a new tactic, one which would cause

such destruction and hurting numerous countries as other terrorist groups sought

to copy and modify this new way to attack a stronger enemy. On Sunday, October 23,

1983, at 0230 a.m. President Reagan was awakened with the horrific news that a

suicide bomber had driven a truck bomb into the building housing the Marines in


Later that same day President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive

109 which outlined how the US would respond to the Lebanon Crisis. In the

document, President Reagan directed that the US Ambassador in Beirut should

schedule a meeting with President Gemayel and the Lebanese government and

that Ambassador Robert Dillion should “formally request that the government

of Lebanon sever all diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran that

was behind this attack using its proxy Hezbollah.

Thirty-five years later the world is still dealing with the Hezbollah/Iranian tactic of

truck bombings.  As Thomas Friedman, the author of “From Beirut to Jerusalem


So it was with the Marines in Beirut-good, milk-faced boys who stepped into the            middle of a passion-filled conflict, of whose history they were totally innocent and       whose venom they could not even imagine.”

Take Sgt. Joe Chowske’s words to heart today and remember those Peacekeepers.

Rember those young Marines and what they sacrificed for peace and their country

thirty-five years ago in  Beirut.










Acts of Great Bravery Honored in Sir Robert Peel’s London

The George MedalCeramic KnifeCeramic Knife

The Queen of England awarded the George Medal to three individuals who confronted armed terrorists to protect others in London. Charles Guenigault and Wayne Marques, both police officers and Ignacio Echeverria, a civilian were awarded the George Medal. The George Medal was created to reward civilians for acts of bravery by King George VI in 1940 during the Blitz of London.

On June 3, 2017, three terrorists targeted pedestrians on the London Bridge ramming them with a rented Renault van. After driving off the bridge the terrorists crashed into a metal railing next to the Barrowboy and Banker pub. The three terrorists armed with ceramic knives and wearing fake suicide explosive belts passed Southwark Cathedral then moved into the Borough Market area stabbing people. Police Officer Charles Guenigault was off-duty and out with friends. Armed only with courage he charged in and tackled the terrorists. He was stabbed numerous times in the abdomen, back, head and leg. British Transport Officer Wayne Marques was armed only with a baton and yet took on all three terrorists. Marques was stabbed in the head, hand and leg. Both of the police officers were severely wounded. One of the terrorists then began to attack a woman.

Ignacio Echeverria was on his bicycle that evening pedaling with friends towards the White Chapel area when he observed the attacks. Echeverria stopped and took his skateboard from his back and struck the terrorist with the skateboard surprising him. This gave several people time to flee. Two of the other terrorists then stabbed Ignacio Echeverria, a Spanish citizen who worked in London for HSBC. They then moved on to attack others before being killed outside the Wheatsheaf pub when armed police arrived.

Ignacio Echeverria didn’t have to come to the woman’s assistance, but he did. He didn’t have a baton, a pistol or other weapon so he used his skateboard. Echeverria wasn’t trained to handle terrorists attacking people.  How many people would intervene with what appeared to be terrorists with suicide bomber belts and knives attacking people? Yet several unarmed police officers and a civilian did just that. Ignacio Echeverria ended up losing his life when the two other terrorists stabbed him. Echeverria’s parents accepted the George Medal for their son from the Queen.

After this terrorist attack occurred, and the three terrorists were identified one name was readily known even to me. In 2016, Khuram Butt had appeared in a documentary entitled “The Jihadis Next Door.” As part of Abu Haleema’s extremist group that Director Jamie Roberts followed around London filming it should have been apparent to anyone that watched Roberts’ documentary that this group of individuals needed to be under extended close surveillance. But the reality is that surveillance resources can’t stay on a target forever. After a period when the targets don’t engage in overt acts of crime or terrorism are often pulled off a target in lieu of higher priorities. At one point in the documentary the “Jihadis Next Door” were in Regent’s Park in London praying with the Black flag of ISIS. Abu Haleema, a radical cleric, and Butt were associated with Anjem Choudary. One year later Khuram was seeking to rent a larger truck to be able to kill more people but his payment was declined so Butt was forced to rent the smaller van. Besides Khuram Butt, the other two London Bridge terrorists were Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel created the London Metropolitan Police. Peel would have been proud of his modern-day London Police Officers and a member of the London community. Peel said that “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”  Peel’s words ring true even today. The acts of bravery by these three courageous men and others that day bring out the best of what Peel thought of citizens and police in London.

Decision Making for Law Enforcement in Low Light Conditions Training

NVCJA and the TRC Presents

Decision Making for Law Enforcement in Low Light Conditions

October 18-19, 2018 Time 2 pm – 10:30 pm, Northern Virginia

Participants will need their vest, duty gear and flashlight

“To see a suspect without being seen is a great tactical advantage.”

Most law enforcement training takes place during daylight hours. Very little law enforcement training is conducted at night or during low light conditions. Participants will explore a number of decision-making scenarios in low light and darkness conditions. Officers will examine the tactical use of light, proper deployment of a handheld flashlight, moving in low light conditions, moving from light to darkness, traffic stops at night, burglary calls, ambushes, communications and other tactical scenarios and challenges anyone who has worked evenings and midnights faces.

Register with Kevin Fox at For more information on course content contact Walter Purdy at

Challenges that Remain After 9/11

WTC Memorial

September 11th is a day of courage and selfless bravery in the face of adversity. So many people showed an audacity and boldness that sunny day seventeen years ago.  From police and firefighters who ran into the World Trade Center Towers, to those who carried injured individuals out of the Pentagon there were hundreds of examples of courage. The best of America rises during adversity.

In the skies over Pennsylvania, America’s response to terrorism was about to begin. A group of passengers aboard a hijacked aircraft knowing what their fate might be courageously attacked Al-Qaeda terrorists seeking to regain control of Flight 93. Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, Jeremy Glick, and other passengers bravely came together knowing that the terrorists were seeking to crash their flight into another American target. “Are you Ready? Okay. Let’s Roll” are the words Todd Beamer used as Americans began fighting back on September 11th. We owe them and all those who lost their lives on September 11th a greater duty. America came together in the days after September 11th but there is still so much more that needs to be accomplished. We, as Americans need to come together as those aboard Flight 93 did and rally to finish what those Al-Qaeda terrorists started. If we don’t our children’s children will be hampered by terrorism forever. Here are a few challenges that remain outstanding:

1. Capture or Kill Ayman al-Zawahiri– Today there is still a $25 million dollar reward on the current leader of Al-Qaeda. Zawahiri is just as responsible as Bin Laden for Al-Qaeda’s attacks on America. The US should give Pakistan an ultimatum-Either your government captures Al Qaeda’s leader or prepare for another Abbottabad Operation. Zawahiri is hiding in Pakistan just like Bin Laden was.

2. Capture or Kill Saif al-Adel-This Egyptian is one of a handful of Al-Qaeda’s remaining old leaders and is more effective and dangerous than Zawahiri. After Tora Bora, Saif al-Adel took members of Bin Laden’s family and numerous terrorists to Iran where they were all given sanctuary. Adel was a “guest of the Iranians” under “house arrest” until he was released totally by the Iranians.

3. Capture or Kill Hamza Bin Laden-The heir apparent to Ayman al-Zawahiri who will one day step into the shoes of his father. Zawahiri is grooming him for the future. Not long ago he put out a statement calling for attacks on the west.

4. Try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed-Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in 2003. We are still awaiting his trial and justice. KSM wired money for Ramzi Yousef’s first WTC attack and was part of the Bojinka Plot. He was the
mastermind of the 9-11 attacks which killed 2983 people 17 years ago. KSM sent Richard Reid, the Shoe bomber to blow up a plane flying from Paris to Miami. KSM beheaded Daniel Pearl and videotaped the horrific act among other terror plots.

5. Try the following terrorists still awaiting Justice at Guantanamo:

Abd al Hadi al Iraqi
Abd al Aziz Ali
Abd al Rahim al Nashiri
Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi
Ramzi Bin al Shibh
Walid Bin Attash
Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani
Haroon al-Afghani
Abdelrazak Ali Abdelrahman
Riduan Isamuddin Hambali
Abdul Malik
Abu Faraj al Libi
Ismael Ali Farag al Bakush
Mohd Farik Bin Amin Zubair
Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep Lillie
Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani
Saifullah Paracha
Abdul Rabbani Abd al Rahim Abu Rahman
Abu Zubaydah
Mohammed al Qahtani
Ghassan Abdullah al Sharbi
Gouled Hassan Dourad
Abdu Ali al Haji Sharqawi
Abdul al Salam al Hilal
Hassan Mohammed Ali Bin Attash
Sanad Yislam al Kazimi
Omar Mohammed Ali al Rammah
Said Salih Said Nashir
Zuhail Abdo Anam Said al Sharabi
Khaled Qasim
Moath Hamza Ahmed al Alwi
Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman

6.Need to take better Care of those first responders who worked the WTC, the Pentagon and Shanksville sites after the September 11th attacks. Seems every month there are individuals who because they breathed in asbestos, chemicals, pulverized steel, debris, are becoming sick with various 9/11 related cancers, diseases, respiratory problems not to mention the post-traumatic stress associated with working on the scenes. I think of individual heroes like Fire Fighter Ray Pfeifer, Arlington County Police Corporal Harvey Snook, and FBI Agent Melissa Morrow who all passed due to working a 9/11 terrorist scene. There is a long-term impact from this terrorist attack from seventeen years ago. They are all missed but not forgotten.

We must never forget those who lost their lives 17 years ago. But we must also remember that every day there are people who are fighting for their lives due to the long-term medical implications associated with those attack. We owe it to them to teach the next generation that with freedom comes responsibilities and that we still have challenges to overcome. We owe the next generation of Americans a world that we grew up in-one without fear of terrorism. The best of America will rise with courage and bravery despite these challenges. America came together after September 11th but there is still so much more that needs to be accomplished.

A Thorn in Their Throats No More-AQAP Master Bomb Maker Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri Reported Killed in a Drone Strike

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief bomb maker was killed in a drone strike in late 2017 in Marib. If this is true, the world’s aviation sector is a little safer today than it was before, as Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri was always seeking innovative ways to target aviation. Attached is an article I wrote in 2013 on this terrorist entitled, A Thorn in Their Throats-Ibrahim Hassan al-Siri Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) Bomb Maker in Yemen.


Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was born from the fruits of a poisonous merger between Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  In 2009, when AQAP announced this merger, Al-Qaeda’s Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri issued an audio statement in which he hoped this merger would be more than a “thorn in the throats of the Crusaders and their agents like the house of Saud and Ali Abdullah Saleh.” Since that time Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, AQAP’s master bomb maker has been a sharp thorn and has put the world on notice with his innovative bomb-making skills.

Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on April 18, 1982. Ibrahim grew up in a traditional middle-class Saudi family with four brothers and three sisters in the shadow of the El Hadji Mosque in the al-Jazirah District of Riyadh.  His father, Hassan Al-Asiri served and retired as an officer in the Saudi military.  Ibrahim attended King Saud University for two years where he studied chemistry. With the death of Ibrahim’s older brother Ali in a car accident, Ibrahim and his brother Abdullah became more devout.

In 2003, Ibrahim was arrested while trying to enter Iraq to join Abu Musab al Zarqawi. He was held in a Saudi prison for nine months and then released to his family’s custody. Nine months isn’t much time for a terrorist who wanted to wage jihad against Americans in Iraq. Rather than punish, the Saudi emphasis was focused on getting jihadists to repent, rehabilitate, and reintegrate into Saudi society. Al-Asiri would later take full advantage of the Saudi’s softer approach to rehabilitation. Armed with this knowledge he would use this Saudi policy to target the official in charge of Counterterrorism and Rehabilitation programs in the Kingdom. After prison, Ibrahim operated under the kunya-Abu Salah, when he became part of an al-Qaeda affiliated cell in Saudi Arabia. Al-Asiri participated in the bombing of oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. With his safe house compromised after a raid, Ibrahim and his younger brother fled south seeking refuge in Yemen. There he met with Nasir al-Wahayshi, who had recently escaped from the Sanaa Political Security Prison. Al-Wahayshi along with 22 other Al Qaeda prisoners to include Hizam Saleh Ali Majali, Qasim al-Raymi, and Muhammad al-Umda tunneled out.  Al-Wahayshi had been Osama bin Laden’s private secretary in Afghanistan for four years.  He escaped from Tora Bora in December 2001 but was arrested en route to Iran.  Ibrahim Al-Asiri has become the primary bomb maker for AQAP and perhaps one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist. While some have described Al-Asiri as an evil genius, he is only one of about a dozen AQAP leaders that combined make AQAP very dangerous. What Al-Asiri has done is to expand the boundaries of bomb-making by combining his technical skills with imagination, sophistication, and deception.

Ibrahim al-Asiri came to light when his brother Abdullah carried his handiwork, a creative PETN bomb that would be concealed in his groin area in an attempt to assassinate a member of the Saudi royal family. While some have suggested that Abdullah concealed the bomb in his rectum that was not the case. Internal cavity devices have not been perfected as of yet but this is a concern for the future. Rather this was one of the first prototypes of his groin/underwear bomb. Since the target was a member of the Saudi royal family the attempted assassination plot needed to use a Saudi suicide bomber. The target for this attack would be Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, who headed up all Counterterrorism efforts and Rehabilitation programs for terrorists in the Kingdom.  For such an important target, Ibrahim al-Asiri would build a different type of bomb for the suicide bomber. He would use his knowledge of Arab customs and cultural taboos against the security designed to protect a member of the royal family in Saudi Arabia. The bomb would have no metal and would be hidden in the groin area of the suicide bomber. He knew there was a high level of success since the security would rely on metal detectors and would not closely check a repentant terrorist surrendering to the Crown Prince.  Ibrahim al-Asiri is dangerous because he adapts his bombs to defeat the security.  While it is important to understand Ibrahim al-Siri’s background, it is more important to understand the evolution of the bombs and the operational methodology he utilizes. Ibrahim al-Asiri not only built a bomb to thwart security but utilized his brother, Abdullah as the suicide bomber. Abdullah would be able to entice the Saudis to allow him to get close enough to the Crown Prince,  dangling hope that he might be able to convince his brother, the number one wanted terrorist in Saudi Arabia to surrender.

On August 27, 2009, Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri, used deception and feigned his surrender as a repentant terrorist to Prince Nayef. A number of al-Qaeda terrorists had personally surrendered to Prince Nayef and had entered the Kingdom’s rehabilitation programs. Prince Nayef had sent an aircraft to Yemen to bring Abdullah al-Siri back to Saudi Arabia. The Prince was hoping that Abdullah’s surrender might lead to his brother’s surrender. Two top terrorists on Saudi Arabia’s Most Wanted List surrendering and entering the Kingdom’s rehabilitation program would silence the program’s critics.  After flying to Jeddah, the suicide bomber passed through metal detectors and was admitted to the Prince’s Palace. Prince Nayef was only slightly injured when the bomb detonated. Even though this attack was a failure it signaled the advent of a different type of bomb and how a terrorist group might use it to attack a protected target.

For years Palestinian terrorists have sent suicide bombers wearing underwear /groin concealed bombs to attack targets. The bulk of underwear and groin bombs carried by suicide bombers have been devices with metal components and shrapnel. But Ibrahim al-Siri has been designing his bombs to avoid detection. His devices had to be able to pass through airport-style metal detectors and visual security to reach the target undetected.

On December 25, 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to destroy Northwest Airlines flight 253 flying from Amsterdam to Detroit with 289 passengers aboard. The bomb Ibrahim al-Siri built for Abdulmutallab used Pentaerythritol (PETN) and Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) and was concealed in his underwear. Abdulmutallab was able to detonate the device and required medical attention when the aircraft land. AQAP’s master bomb maker was able to build a device that was able to defeat airport type security. What one can be sure of is that al-Asiri will seek to make corrections so that this type of device will detonate instead of causing a fire.

Finding the Achilles heel of aviation security is something Ibrahim al-Siri seems to have exploited. Al-Asiri concealed his next two bombs in laser printers. On October 29, 2010, two of his devices were found after Saudi intelligence passed along critical intelligence. AQAP had shipped the laser printer bombs using FedEx and UPS addressed to targets in the United States. The two laser printers containing the bombs had cleared airport cargo screening at several airports. Ibrahim al-Asiri was able to take advantage of lax cargo screening. Even canine dogs and x-rays didn’t find the device in London. In November 2010, AQAP issued their Inspire magazine which outlined the details of this plot titled Operation Hemorrhage. While the articles in Inspire are mainly propaganda in nature they do highlight the research that was done in preparation for this attack. The article further states that the reason FedEx and UPS were chosen was to inflict the “maximum losses to the American economy.”

Ibrahim al-Asiri was able to conceal the bombs circuits into the printer cartridge circuits and to conceal the PETN within the toner. According to the article, this operation took three months to plan and execute and cost only $4200. While AQAP clearly wanted to down these two aircraft, even its failures show an evolution in the targeting and bomb-making skills within AQAP.  In April 2012, AQAP readied another explosive device to attack an aircraft on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. Thankfully, this plot was thwarted by a Saudi informant. The informant was able to bring the device out and the FBI has been able to exploit al-Asiri’s latest bomb. The unique bomb had no metal and a more improved trigger to ensure that the device would detonate, unlike his last underwear bomb.

Ibrahim al-Asiri continues to be a thorn that poses a great danger each day he is not captured or killed. Al-Asiri has taught a number of junior bomb makers who can continue these types of attacks or even design more sophisticated bombs. By passing on his bomb-making tradecraft, Al-Asiri’s handiwork will continue in the event he is captured or killed. While AQAP has shown a propensity to attack aviation and assassinate targets with suicide bombers, they can expand their attacks into other areas and other types of targets.  AQAP continues to expand their targeting within the region but has always focused on targeting the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

With the recent death of Sheikh Saeed al-Shehri (Abu Sufyan al-Azdi), the deputy commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s statements calling for AQAP to attack America, we can be certain that Ibrahim al-Asiri’s bomb-making services will be used by AQAP to press home major attacks.  Individuals in this region must be on guard for an attack against their interests. Due to the types of attacks AQAP has undertaken in the past, it would not surprise anyone to see another attack on aviation aimed at the United States or even Saudi Arabia.

While travel restrictions might make it harder for terrorists to locate American targets within the country it does not solve the problem. Closing facilities buys time and reduces the footprint at a potential target but it too does not solve the problem. Rather it gives terrorists a short-term propaganda victory. Terrorists can just wait until the restrictions are lifted to conduct their operations.  One of the brightest members of the Foreign Service was Ambassador Edmund Hull. Ambassador Hull served as the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 2001-2004.  Ambassador Hull always believed that one needed to seize the initiative and that an Embassy was not a bunker. From a secure Embassy, U.S. Diplomats could engage the people in Yemen and enhance the region’s security and economic development.

While the recent closure of U.S. Embassies and Consulates buys time to check and improve security, it also signals a weakness of the United States. Even when the US moves all non-essential personnel from an Embassy there are always U.S. citizens who must make a decision to depart or stay. Missionaries, NGOs, relief organizations are often caught between departing and reducing services and aid to the people they assist or potentially becoming a target.  As long as AQAP has terrorists and bomb makers such as Ibrahim al-Asiri, vigilance, awareness and a multi-pronged counterterrorism approach are needed until the threat has been removed.

The Terrorism Research Center (TRC) is an independent institute dedicated to the research of terrorism, conducts cutting-edge training and provides analysis and consulting services. Best known for conducting its Mirror Image: Training to Combat Terrorism, a total immersion counterterrorism training program.  The TRC is “A Virginia Company With A Global Purpose.”  For more information go to


Remembering 9/11: Its “Unfathomable” that Mounir Motassadeq of Hamburg Cell to be Released Early from Prison and Deported

WTC Attack 911

The importance of the so-called “Hamburg Cell” can’t be overlooked regarding Al Qaeda’s September 11th attacks on America. The Hamburg Cell consisted of seven individuals who lived “hidden in plain sight” in Hamburg, Germany. The cell centered around Mohamed Atta, who piloted the first aircraft into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Atta’s two roommates were hijackers-pilots Ziad Samir Jarrah and Marwan Al-Shehhi. Ramzi Bin al Shibh received his paperwork to attend an aviation school in the United States but repeatedly failed to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. Unable to travel to the US to obtain his pilot’s license Bin al Shibh was made the cell’s coordinator.  Said Bahaji helped with internet expertise and fled Germany on September 4, 2001 for Pakistan. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri reported Bahaji’s death in an audio message in 2017. Zakariya Essabar was supposed to come to the United States to learn to fly. But he was denied a visa when he applied for one in

Mounir Motassadeq came to Germany and attended the Technical University studying electrical engineering.  Motassadeq was a signatory to Mohamed Atta’s will and he had power of attorney for Marwan Al-Shehhi’s bank account. Motassadeq didn’t travel originally with the “four” to the Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Instead, he stayed behind to cover for them while they traveled.  Motassadeq’s role was to provide logistical support. On May 22, 2000, Motassadeq flew from Hamburg to Karachi and returned on August 1, 2000.  During that period, he attended military training in a camp near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Terrorists often need individuals to conduct research and undertake logistical support for them to be successful. Besides the hijacker-pilots out of Hamburg, the 9/11 plot needed individuals to support them logistically as well as having a coordinator. Ramzi Bin al Shibh took on the role of the coordinator and Mounir Motassadeq provided logistical support. The result is that the 9/11 terrorists killed 2996 individuals and injured over 6,000 people. Terrorists whether part of the execution team or the logistics team should all be held accountable.

Germany recently announced that Mounir el-Motassadeq sentenced in 2006 to 15 years would be released early for time served. Motassadeq would then be deported back to Morocco. Motassadeq should be extradited to the United States and tried for his support to the Hamburg terrorists.

There hasn’t been much outcry over Motassadeq’s upcoming release. Congressman Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts said it is “unfathomable” to free an individual who helped the 9/11terrorists. Congressman Lynch is right on point. Two of the aircraft seized by the terrorists on September 11, 2001, departed from Logan Airport. This airport in Boston, Massachusetts is located in Congressman Lynch’s 8th District. But more than one US Government official should be outraged that Motassadeq is about to walk free.  All Americans should be outraged that an individual who provided support for the 9/11 terrorists will shortly be free.


Judge Allows Convicted Terrorist To Retain His US Citizenship

Brooklyn Bridge with WTC

Citizenship in the United States is nothing less than a priceless treasure. Recently, the US Government sought to revoke the citizenship of Iyman Faris, a convicted terrorist who was a naturalized citizen. The government was unsuccessful with the process of denaturalization in Federal Court. Judge Staci Yandle of the 7th Circuit recently held that the government did not provide sufficient evidence to convince her that Iyman Faris’ misrepresentations on his immigration papers had influenced the decision to make him a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Faris was sent to New York by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2002 to case and conduct surveillance on the Brooklyn Bridge and determine whether Al Qaeda could drop the iconic bridge by cutting the steel cables using blow torches. While in an Afghan terrorist camp Faris met Osama Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda operatives.

Faris was born in Karachi, Pakistan on June 4, 1969. In March 1994, he entered the United States in New York using a passport and visa belonging to another person. Faris requested political asylum and filled out a “Request for Asylum with Immigration” in July 1994. While his political asylum request was pending, Faris married Geneva Bowling a U.S. citizen in 1995. Marrying a US citizen meant that Faris could then file a “Petition for Alien Relative” and be recognized as an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen. Faris also filed an “Application to Register as a Permanent Resident or Adjust Status.” Due to Faris’ application to Adjust Status because of his marriage, INS never considered Faris’ request for political asylum. In March 1996, Faris was granted permanent resident status and in 1999 became a naturalized citizen.

In 2000, during divorce proceedings from his wife, Faris asked the Court for a continuance since he stated he needed to travel to the Middle East for a family emergency. Instead, Faris traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he went to an Al Qaeda training camp and met Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Upon his return to Columbus, Ohio, Faris, the commercial truck driver was on a different mission to strike the Brooklyn Bridge. Faris and his ex-wife would both be interviewed by the FBI after the September 11th attacks. Faris conducted research on the internet of the Brooklyn Bridge before he physically traveled to the Bridge to case this iconic target in New York City.

Terrorists have used almost every way to enter and stay in a country. Faris used another person’s passport and visa to travel to the United States. Once in the United States he requested political asylum to stay in the country. This is one of the oldest ploys to be allowed to stay in a country and Faris also took advantage of this loophole just like other terrorists. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual adviser to the first World Trade Center terrorists also used an asylum to thwart his deportation back to Egypt. Ramzi Yousef arrived at JFK International Airport in New York from Pakistan on September 1, 1992. Yousef was using an Iraqi passport and didn’t have a visa and his boarding pass was under the name of Azan Mohammed and he arrived in the US with multiple IDs in other names. The INS Inspector recommended that he be detained. But since he was seeking political asylum he was released on his own recognizance and told to show up for a political asylum hearing at a later date. Needless to say, Ramzi Yousef wasn’t interested in asylum but in conducting a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Mir Aimal Kansi, who killed two CIA officers and Gazi Abu Mezer, who attempted to blow up a New York subway train are two other terrorists that used political asylum to stay in the United States.

Once allowed to stay in the country a terrorist has to find a way to extend his ability to stay or change his status. Marrying an American is one method we have seen terrorists use. Iyman Faris married Geneva Bowling in 1995. What is not known is whether he was in love with her or just using her for her status as a U.S. citizen.

What we do know is that Iyman Faris was sent to New York to conduct casing and surveillance operations on the Brooklyn Bridge after September 11th for Al-Qaeda. Whether he should retain his naturalized citizenship was the question before a Federal Judge. Just knowing that he was attempting to help Al-Qaeda after September 11th alone one might think would be grounds for denaturalization. Arriving in New York and using another person’s passport and visa one would think would be grounds as Iyman Faris did when he first arrived in the United States. Traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan and going to an Al-Qaeda training camp and meeting with Osama Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad one would think might be grounds. Returning to the United States and undertaking casing operations against an iconic target in New York one would think might be grounds for denaturalization.

The US Supreme Court in Costello v United States held that the Government “carries a heavy burden of proof in a proceeding to divest a naturalized citizen of his citizenship.” The US government brought a denaturalization action against Fedorenko a former armed guard at the Nazi concentration camp at Treblinka in Poland alleging he had procured his US citizenship illegally or by willfully misrepresenting a material fact. The Government charged that Fedorenko, in applying for his visa and for citizenship, had willfully concealed that he had served as an armed guard at Treblinka and had committed crimes against inmates of the camp because they were Jewish, and that therefore he had procured his naturalization illegally or by willfully misrepresenting material facts. The US Supreme Court in Fedorenko v United States held that Fedorenko illegally procured citizenship and his citizenship must be revoked.

But in Faris’ case Judge Yandle decided the government did not provide sufficient evidence to convince her that Faris’ “misrepresentations” on his immigration papers had influenced the decision to grant him citizenship, and therefore ruled in favor of the convicted terrorist. There was no mention of the fact in the Court’s opinion that Faris had used another person’s passport and visa to actually enter the US. There was no mention of “terrorist tradecraft” to enter a country includes using another person’s passport or identification. Or that terrorist tradecraft includes seeking “political asylum” since this is a loophole terrorists have utilized numerous times or marrying a citizen so that one can remain in a country where one is planning terrorist operations. Iyman Faris took the below Oath of Allegiance to the United States when he became a naturalized citizen.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

It seems that he didn’t take this oath of allegiance seriously and instead targeted his new country for Al-Qaeda. And now he wants to retain his citizenship. The government should appeal Judge Yandle’s decision and should be able to take into account the original statements and materials from his application for asylum as well as the facts that he arrived in the country using someone else’s passport and visa as well as the fact that he had multiple identifications in other names on him. In 2003, Faris was sentenced to 20 years and thus just has a few years left on his sentence before being released. If he retains his US citizenship he will be released within the United States. Or if Judge Yandle’s decision is successfully appealed, Iyman Faris can then be deported back to Pakistan once he has served his sentence.