Terrorism

Downtown Chicago Could Receive Resilient Electric Grid

Some good news coming out of Chicago concerning the protection of its electric grid. From area electric utility ComEd yesterday:

ComEd to Partner with AMSC on Superconductor-based Resilient Electric Grid System
Homeland Security Project Seeks to Increase the Resiliency and Security of
Chicago’s Electric Grid

Devens, MA, and Chicago, IL – July 16, 2014 – AMSC (NASDAQ: AMSC), a global energy solutions provider serving wind and power grid industry leaders, today announced that ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, has agreed to develop a deployment plan for AMSC’s high temperature superconductor technology to build a superconducting cable system that will strengthen Chicago’s electric grid. The Resilient Electric Grid (REG) effort is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s work to secure the nation’s electric power grids and improve resiliency against extreme weather, acts of terrorism, or other catastrophic events.

“Modernizing our region’s electric grid is part of ComEd’s vision to strengthen power reliability and to connect our customers and this region to the 21st century digital economy,” said Anne R. Pramaggiore, President and CEO, ComEd. “We view this project as a natural extension of the infrastructure improvements and technological upgrades that have been under way for the past two years as we develop and deploy the smart grid. Linking our critical urban infrastructure to this superconductor system would provide added reliability, resiliency and security to Chicago’s Central Business District, an essential economic engine for the state and region.”

The current design of the grid infrastructure in many U.S. cities makes restoration of power after a catastrophic event time-consuming, costly, and unpredictable. Led by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the Resilient Electric Grid is a self-healing solution that provides resiliency in the event that portions of the grid are lost for any reason. The ComEd installation would be the first commercial application of this advanced technology in the United States

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nice to hear a project protecting downtown Chicago’s grid is in the works, although to be fair, only three miles of superconductor cable is supposed to be laid.

If you’re outside the “Loop” you’ll be lumped together with the rest of us mopes in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The lights are flickering. Gotta run.

You can read the entire press release (.pdf file) on the ComEd website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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NY Times Bestselling Author Brad Thor ‘Very Fearful’ Of Terrorist Attack In U.S.

Any readers ever hear of best-selling author Brad Thor? I first heard his name mentioned on TheBlaze website back in the spring. At that time, Thor- who’s brand-new thriller Act of War was just released Tuesday- announced he was moving his family from Chicago, Illinois, to Nashville, Tennessee, because of violent crime and high taxes.

I spotted Thor’s name again on Glenn Beck’s site last night. Erica Ritz wrote:

After 9/11, New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor was one of a select group of individuals asked to assist the United States government in “war gaming” the next move of radical jihadists.

Why? Because he and other thriller writers had demonstrated an uncanny ability to predict events years before they occur. Thor warned of the NSA spying scandal in his book “Black List,” and predicted the release of five of the most dangerous Guantanamo Bay detainees seven years ago in “The First Commandment.”

So where does Thor believe we are headed next?

He told listeners of The Glenn Beck Program yesterday:

What chilled me was Dick Cheney recently saying that within the next six years, we’re going to see a terrorist attack on American soil worse than 9/11. You know, with two-thirds of our border agents changing diapers and trying to feed these children coming across the border, that doesn’t leave many to guard a border that- even at 100-percent strength- people were still getting through. I’m very concerned that the enemies of the United States are exploiting- because they exploit every opportunity to get bad actors into the country. And we already know Iran has lots of bad actors already in the country- Agents that are in place, waiting to be activated should the Iranians trigger them and tell them to activate.

I am very fearful that we could see some sort of terrorist attack in the United States…

As am I, Mr. Thor. As am I…


“Brad Thor Act Of War”
TheBlaze TV Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ritz, Erica. “Bestselling Author Brad Thor, Who Predicted NSA Spying Scandal and Controversial Prisoner Exchange, Shares What He Fears Is Next for America.” TheBlaze. 9 July 2014. (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/09/bestselling-author-brad-thor-who-predicted-nsa-spying-scandal-and-controversial-prisoner-exchange-shares-what-he-fears-is-next-for-america/). 9 July 2014.

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Increased Screening Of U.S.-Bound Airline Passengers Over Terrorism Fear

I understand U.S.-bound airline passengers from some airports in Europe and the Middle East will now be subject to tougher security screening. From U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson in a press release posted today on the DHS website:

DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. We will work to ensure these necessary steps pose as few disruptions to travelers as possible…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So what’s the reason for the additional screening at overseas airports? Mike Levine and Pierre Thomas reported on the ABC News website this morning:

Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that associates of the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria – the Al Nusrah Front – and radicals from other groups were teaming up with elements of the Yemen-based group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which built such innovative devices as the “underwear bomb” that ultimately failed to detonate in a plane over Detroit Christmas Day 2009.

Bolstered by more recent intelligence, U.S. analysts believe the “subset” of extreme terrorists in Syria could be looking to down a U.S.- or European-bound plane, with help from one of the thousands of Americans and other foreign fighters carrying U.S. and European passports who have joined Al Nusrah Front and other groups in the region.

While intelligence obtained by the U.S. government has not indicated a specific target or a specific timeline, one source called the threat “different and more disturbing than past aviation plots.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 2, 2013, I blogged that American and European Union passport-holding jihadists fighting in Syria were being scrutinized by the federal government as potential terrorists.

You can read that entire press release on the DHS website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Levine, Mike and Thomas, Pierre. “Airport Security Directives Likely Amid Syria Bomb Threat.” ABC News. 2 July 2014. (http://abcnews.go.com/International/airport-security-directives-stem-syria-bomb-threat/story?id=24391883). 2 July 2014.

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Dick Cheney Warns Of Massive Terrorist Attack On U.S. Before Decade Is Out

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was interviewed by attorney, law professor, and broadcast journalist Hugh Hewitt recently for the latter’s nationally-syndicated radio show. During a June 24 broadcast, Cheney- who’s now spearheading the Alliance for a Strong America along with his daughter Liz- shared his views on U.S. foreign policy and warned listeners of the potential for a future terrorist attack on the American homeland “far deadlier” than September 11, 2001. From the exchange between Hewitt and Cheney:

HH: Do you think we get through this decade without a massive attack on the homeland?
DC: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think there will be another attack. And next time, I think it’s likely to be far deadlier than the last one. You can just imagine what would happen…
HH: Yeah.
DC: …if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the Beltway outside of Washington, D.C.
HH: And do you, by the way, if that were to happen, do you see the government reconstituting? Because it would have to be military rule for a period of time at least.
DC: Well, there was, some years ago, a program called the continuity of government program. It was part of the Cold War strategy that we pursued here, and basically it involved having a government waiting, if you will, ready to go in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States, so that we could always maintain the Constitutional base of governmental authority. I was part of that program for several years, and a lot of it, I’m sure, is probably still classified. But it was very, very important, and we operated and actually trained under circumstances of how would we go about making, providing for a government to survive if you know, we’re having nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union falling all over the country…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As I noted on this blog’s “About” page back in late 2010, other high-profile, knowledgeable individuals are warning of the same within the next several years. From that page:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

-Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, in an April 2007 debate

Spooky stuff, to say the least.

But getting back to Dick Cheney. Considering the kind of intelligence the man’s had access to over the years, disregarding such a mind-blowing warning may be foolish.

Especially when the enemies of America look not only to be flourishing, but also emboldened, at the present time.

You can read the entire transcript of the interview on Hugh Hewitt’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Eric Holder: Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee Created To Combat ‘Homegrown’ Terrorists

Occasionally when I hear/see the word “Committee” used in reference to an ad hoc, high-level governmental entity, my thoughts drift to another time and place I’ve read about in the history books.

1793 France. And the Comité De Salut Public (Committee of Public Safety)

From the Encyclopaedia Brtiannica website:

The Committee of Public Safety was set up on April 6, 1793, during one of the crises of the Revolution, when France was beset by foreign and civil war. The new committee was to provide for the defense of the nation against its enemies, foreign and domestic…

I heard this morning that a mothballed committee at the federal level has just been resurrected. Timothy Phelps reported on the Los Angeles Times website yesterday morning:

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder, Jr. on Monday announced the creation of a task force within the Justice Department to combat an “escalating danger” from “homegrown” terrorists within the United States.

The task force will chiefly comprise leaders from the FBI, the Justice Department’s National Security Division and U.S. Attorneys. Called the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, it is a recreation of a task force formed by former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The task force fell into disuse after 9/11.

Though the original task force, which was little known, focused mainly on right-wing zealots, Holder’s version is aimed at U.S. citizens or visitors radicalized via the Internet

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

While I don’t dispute the threat posed by “homegrown” terrorists to public safety and the need for the federal government to keep on top of this matter, I also fear the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee could eventually go the way of the Committee of Public Safety, which under Maximilien François Marie Isidore Robespierre spearheaded the ensuing Reign of Terror in France.

Already there’s chatter across the Internet of DTEC being used against the “enemies” of the Obama administration.

Mikael Thalen wrote on Infowars.com earlier today:

In reality, Holder’s task force will undoubtedly focus on the Obama administration’s political enemies, mainly returning military veterans, conservatives and those who identify with the Tea Party. Such groups have been increasingly linked to terrorism by multiple federal agencies…

Undoubtedly? Let’s hope the targeting of political “enemies” isn’t the real intention behind resurrecting and giving life to DTEC.

All I know is this. If that Nevada rancher- Cliven Bundy- and others like him get designated “homegrown terrorists” in the coming days/weeks/months, I’ll get suspicious as to the real motives of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee.

In the meantime, I’ll give the Committee the benefit of the doubt regarding their stated mission.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Phelps, Timothy M. “Holder announces task force on ‘homegrown’ terrorists.” Los Angeles Times. 2 Jun. 2014. (http://www.latimes.com/la-na-nn-holder-terrorism-task-force-20140601-story.html). 3 Jun. 2014.

Thalen, Mikael. “ Holder to Create ‘Homegrown’ Terrorism Task Force.” Infowars. 3 Jun. 2014. (http://www.infowars.com/holder-to-create-homegrown-terrorism-task-force/). 3 Jun. 2014.

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FBI Chicago Head: Terrorism Threat To City ‘Is Probably More So Than Right After 9/11’

WBBM (Chicago) Political Editor Craig Dellimore recently interviewed Robert Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Chicago, for the WBBM Newsradio show At Issue. From their exchange that was uploaded on the show’s web page today:

DELLIMORE: With all the headlines about street gangs, shootings, and corruption in and around Chicago, I think people can sometimes forget that terrorism is still a threat here, and is a major focus of what the FBI has to do. We haven’t had a major attack here- though there have been some plots thwarted. How real is the threat of terrorism these days?
HOLLEY: I would say, Craig, that the threat that we face now is probably more so than right after 9/11. Al-Qaeda Central has been thwarted in many of the attacks that they have been trying to conduct here in the West and against our allied partners overseas. Through Osama bin Laden being killed, and other leaders within core Al-Qaeda- the core leadership within Al-Qaeda- over the last several years, their ability to plan and conduct operations has been limited. What happened is, it is diffused to other groups. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula- we call them AQAP. Al-Qaeda in Islamic Magreb- AQIM. Al Nusra in Syria. So these are all significant threats- terrorism threats. Although they are headquartered overseas, they have an intent to strike here in the West. And they are actively plotting, recruiting, and training to conduct attacks here in the United States.
DELLIMORE: Is some of this theoretical, or do investigators uncover more concrete signs that Chicago could be a target, at least more so than we average folks might realize?
HOLLEY: I would never describe it as being theoretical. It is an actual threat. And there is no community in the United States that is immune from an attack on their communities. We saw what happened in Boston by two homegrown violent extremists. There have been multiple disruptions through different JTTF (unintelligible word) throughout the FBI in the United States over the last several years. You can look at Lubbock, Texas. Not a large metropolitan area, but had a significant attempt to conduct a terrorist attack there…

You can listen to the entire podcast on the At Issue web page here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al-Qaeda has been decimated…”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, while campaigning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on November 1, 2012

Not only is Al-Qaeda alive and well according to some former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts who just appeared before Congress, but there’s even chatter of the Muslim extremists possibly striking the “homeland” not too far off in the distance. Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, reported on the TV news station’s website Wednesday:

A series of al Qaeda-based threats to attack American and Western targets in Europe, as well as threats to launch attacks inside the United States, has caused significant concern inside the U.S. intelligence community, CNN has learned…

U.S. officials as well as analysts have long said they believe al Qaeda is focused on attacking outside the United States because of the difficulty in penetrating U.S. homeland security. But these latest threat streams suggest domestic U.S. targets also continue to be looked at by al Qaeda.

Worry No. 1: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

One of the biggest concerns right now remains efforts by Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack inside Yemen, in Europe and inside the United States

While it’s believed AQAP is mainly focused on targeting inside of Yemen, officials say an attempt to attack inside the United States or to recruit others to carry out such an attack cannot be ruled out.

Worry No. 2: Core group in Pakistan

Separately, still another official confirms to CNN that the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan is also seeking to place operatives in places to attack U.S. targets overseas and domestically

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

On the topic of “core” Al-Qaeda, Rob Crilly reported on the website of The Telegraph (UK) Wednesday:

Al-Qaeda is not a spent force in Afghanistan and is using a shadow army to hide its true strength, according to testimony presented by former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts to a US Congressional committee.

Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said Osama bin Laden’s heirs had successfully hidden their strength as they spread their influence throughout the Middle East.

As a result, Afghanistan risks becoming a terrorist haven once again when Nato-led combat troops leave the country this year.

His evidence contradicts repeated claims that the movement had been “decimated” – particularly in Afghanistan – and Barack Obama’s public assessment earlier this year that its current leaders were junior varsity basketball players dressed up as superstars of the NBA after replacing senior commanders killed in drone strikes or other actions.

“Part of the reason these assessments have been flawed is that al-Qaeda has a ‘deep bench’ to draw from, both from within its own organisation and allied groups,” said Mr Joscelyn, pointing out the secrecy of the movement’s structure and personnel.

“Al-Qaeda is constantly in the process of recruiting new talent as well.”

Other witnesses gave similar evidence to the House of Representatives subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on Tuesday.

David Sedney, former deputy assistant defence secretary, said focusing on the core al-Qaeda leadership missed the bigger strategic picture, which showed the group as decentralised.

“My view is that al-Qaeda, despite our tactical counter-terrorism successes, continues to be a major strategic threat to the United States and its allies,” he said. “Tomorrow, al-Qaeda will be an even greater threat because of its ongoing evolutions.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

One of these days, I’m convinced Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or sympathizer(s) is going to launch another attack inside the United States.

It would be a real shame if the U.S. counter-terrorism apparatus underestimates the threat posed by present-day Al-Qaeda.

To think of this jihadist movement as “decimated” may be committing a huge strategic blunder that could come back to haunt America down the road.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Starr, Barbara. “Stream of al Qaeda threats has U.S. intelligence concerned.” CNN.com. 21 May 2014. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/us/al-qaeda-threats-intelligence/). 23 May 2014.

Crilly, Rob. “Al-Qaeda ‘not defeated’ in Afghanistan.” The Telegraph. 21 May 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10846151/Al-Qaeda-not-defeated-in-Afghanistan.html). 23 May 2014.

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Al-Qaeda Still Desires To Kidnap Americans, Other Westerners

“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan and encourage kidnappings of U.S. citizens and Westerners…”

-U.S. Department of State website, “Worldwide Caution” last updated April 10, 2014

Al-Qaeda is desperate to kidnap Americans. Reuters reported Saturday:

The al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to kidnap westerners, particularly Americans, who could then be exchanged for jailed jihadists including a blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York landmarks.

In a wide-ranging audio interview, the al-Qaida leader expressed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is facing a violent crackdown by the army-backed government in Egypt, and urged unity among rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the Zawahiri tape, but the voice resembled that of the al-Qaida leader.

“I ask Allah the Glorious to help us set free Dr Omar Abdel-Rahman and the rest of the captive Muslims, and I ask Allah to help us capture from among the Americans and the westerners to enable us to exchange them for our captives,” said Zawahiri, according to the Site website monitoring service…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular observers of the terrorist group will point out this isn’t the first time the Al-Qaeda leadership has called for the kidnapping of “Westerners.” Chelsea Carter reported on the CNN website back on October 28, 2012:

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, citing the success in the abduction of American aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan.

In a two-part, more than two-hour video posted on jihadist websites, al-Zawahiri called for the abductions as part of a vow not to “spare any efforts” to free Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“God the great and almighty granted us success to capture the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,” al-Zawahiri said in the video posted Wednesday, according to the terror monitoring group SITE Intelligence.

“We are seeking, by the help of God, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Traveling abroad anytime soon? It’s probably wise to exercise a good deal of situational awareness and take a number of other precautions before and during the trip.


“STRATFOR: How to Travel Safely – Tips from a Former Agent”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Al-Qaida leader urges kidnapping of westerners to exchange for jihadists.” Reuters. 26 Apr. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/26/al-qaida-ayman-zawahiri-kidnapping-westerners). 28 Apr. 2014.

Carter, Chelsea. “Al Qaeda leader calls for kidnapping of Westerners.” CNN.com. 28 Oct. 2012. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/27/world/asia/al-qaeda-kidnap-threat/). 28 Apr. 2014.

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Surviving A Nuclear Attack On Washington, D.C.

Personally, I think there’s a good possibility enemies of the United States will someday detonate nuclear devices in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Why?

Because these political and cultural centers in America are just too juicy of targets for the bad guys to ignore.

Particularly that new Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center), which is expected to open to the public this year.

I’m not the only one who thinks nuclear terrorism could be in the cards for us. Read further down my “About” page and you’ll understand what I mean.

And don’t forget this from March 24. I blogged:

Earlier today, President Barack Obama spoke at a news conference while attending the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in Holland. The U.S. President brought up the danger of a nuclear device being detonated in one of America’s major cities. From a transcript provided by the Federal News Service:

And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number-one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Think POTUS knows something that we don’t?

Getting back to the nation’s capital, Marc Ambinder recently wrote an article on The Week website entitled, “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” Armbinder inquired in the April 14 piece:

I was wondering if the government had deigned to share with us citizens any tips for, you know, surviving something their own intelligence points to as the likeliest unlikely Black Swan event… it turns out that there is quite a lot that you or I can do if we get stuck in Washington when something like that happens. Choices we make could very well make the difference between our imminent death and a relatively full and happy life, assuming the bomb is a one-off.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released a report in 2011 that spells all this out. It hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.

It’s called the “National Capital Region Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” and it makes for fascinating reading…

It really does, and if I lived or worked in the nation’s capital, I’d read that November 2011 U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded publication as if my life depended on it.

Because it very well might one day.

You can find the 120-page publication here (.pdf format) on the Homeland Security Digital Library website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ambinder, Marc. “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” The Week. 14 Apr. 2014. (http://theweek.com/article/index/259829/if-a-nuclear-bomb-exploded-in-downtown-washington-what-should-you-do). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Government, Man-Made Disasters, Terrorism No Comments

U.S. Security Experts Wary Of American Fighters Returning From Syrian Civil War

Back on December 2, I blogged:

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray…

These radicalized foreign fighters were the focus of a piece that appeared on the International Business Times (UK) website Sunday. Tom Porter reported:

Experts have warned that a terrorist attack by jihadists returning radicalised from the war in Syria is “inevitable”.

It is believed that hundreds of British citizens have fought in the three-year Syrian conflict, with many taking up arms for Islamist groups.

Some have posted videos online, boasting of their exploits.

There are growing fears among security services that returning fighters with combat experience are poised to launch terrorist attacks in the UK. The Telegraph reports that around 250 Syria veterans may be back in the country.

Ahead of a discussion on Syrian fighters at Chatham House this week, Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, spoke of the growing danger.

“It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

Last year, security forces are reported to have foiled a Mumbai-style plot, involving killing civilians with guns in central London, which involved Syria veterans

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Even though Porter talked about the U.K., Syrian Civil War veterans who fought alongside Islamists will also be returning to the United States.

And U.S. security experts are wary of them.

Henry Austin and Charlene Gubash reported on the NBC News website back on February 15:

Foreign fighters returning home to the U.S., Britain and other countries after honing their skills in Syria’s civil war are posing a “nightmare for security services,” experts and officials say.

About 11,000 people have crossed into Syria seeking to help topple President Bashar Assad’s regime – including about 60 who are believed to have traveled from America. However, many have now been left disillusioned by bitter infighting between rival rebel groups and some have given up their weapons and returned to the West.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said that the U.S. government was “very focused” on the issue of militants returning to the country.

“Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” he added.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said recent history shows that “battlefields that have Sunni jihadist ideology have produced some sort of a threat.”

“It’s not true to say that all of those returning from Syria will come back and be a terrorist threat,” Pantucci added. “Perhaps a couple of them will, which makes it a nightmare for security services to track.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some suspect Muslim extremists have been trying hard to recruit Western Caucasian members for some time now to use in terrorist operations against the United States and its allies in the “War On Terror.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Porter, Tom. “Experts Warn of ‘Inevitable’ UK Terror Attack By Returning Syria Jihadis.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/experts-warn-inevitable-uk-terror-attack-by-returning-syria-jihadis-1443631). 7 Apr. 2014.

Austin, Henry and Gubash, Charlene. “Syria’s American-Born Rebels Pose National Security ‘Nightmare’.” NBC News. 15 Feb. 2014. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/syrias-american-born-rebels-pose-national-security-nightmare-n29451). 7 Apr. 2014.

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President Obama: ‘Nuclear Weapon Going Off In Manhattan’ Top U.S. Security Threat

Occasionally, I blog about the threat of nuclear terrorism for the United States.

Earlier today, President Barack Obama spoke at a news conference while attending the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in Holland. The U.S. President brought up the danger of a nuclear device being detonated in one of America’s major cities. From a transcript provided by the Federal News Service:

And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number-one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan, which is part of the reason why the United States, showing its continued international leadership, has organized a forum over the last several years that’s been able to help eliminate that threat in a consistent way…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Think he knows something the majority of Americans don’t?

Personally, I’d be hard-pressed to live in or around New York City or Washington, D.C., if you catch my drift…

You can read the entire transcript on The Washington Post website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 Europe, Foreign Policy, Government, Terrorism No Comments

Al-Qaeda Magazine Lists Willis (Sears) Tower, Chicago Board Of Trade As Potential Car Bomb Targets

I spotted the following on TV the other night while watching the news on Chicago’s ABC affiliate ABC7. Investigative reporter Chuck Goudie wrote Saturday on the station’s website:

Two Chicago landmarks are called out by name as suggested car bomb targets for al Qaeda sympathizers in a newly-released Inspire magazine, the publication considered required reading for American jihadists.

“America is our first target” are the un-minced words in the Spring 2014 edition of Inspire, the first publication from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in nearly one year.

The magazine offers a detailed, illustrated recipe for constructing a car bomb “in a few hours,” securing it in a vehicle and then detonating it. “It allows Muslims to train at home instead of risking dangerous travel abroad” explains the just-posted online instruction manual that requires easily purchased components.

“This type of car bomb is not usually used to destroy buildings, but is very effective in killing individuals.”

Two Chicago buildings are listed prominently by al Qaeda as locations where car bombs could accomplish that:

1. Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower), 108-story skyscraper, it held the title tallest building in the world for about 25 years.
2. The Chicago Board of Trade Building

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

In the ABC7 I-Team report, Goudie pointed out other suggested U.S. car bomb targets included Washington, D.C, Northern Virginia, New York, and Los Angeles.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or devotee(s) carries out another terrorist attack within the United States.

That being said, as long as there’s still a sizable U.S. troop presence in the Middle East, I can’t help but feel that presents a much more “attractive” target to the jihadists.

Once they come home however, I suspect we’ll see attention shift to the “homeland.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Goudie, Chuck. “Chicago targets in terrorist crosshairs, new al Qaeda magazine Inspire says.” ABC7. 15 Mar. 2014. (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9467587). 20 Mar. 2014.

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U.S. Special Ops Chief Warns Of ‘Broader Threat’ From Al-Qaeda

U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven, commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), talked to the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday about the threat of terrorism posed by Al-Qaeda. SOCOM is charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Component Commands of the various braches of the U.S. armed forces. Admiral McRaven warned:

Core Al-Qaeda has gotten markedly weaker. The threat that was emanating out of the federally-administrated tribal areas with the support of other government agencies and the support of the Pakistanis- we have really decimated the core Al-Qaeda. So I would tell you, that threat is significantly decreased.

But of course, what we’ve seen is the franchise elements begin to pop up… So these franchises are beginning to grow up. However, having said that, I think what we see is a broader threat. But the high-end piece that we saw from Al-Qaeda is not as prevalent as it used to be.

So the threat is metastasizing. It is much more broad. But I would tell you that the threat to the homeland- with one or two exceptions- is less today than it was certainly five or ten years ago when core Al-Qaeda was stronger.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I did a quick search on the Internet this morning for those “one or two exceptions,” but found nothing. Wish Admiral McRaven could have elaborated on these in the interest of public safety.


“Special Ops Chief: Threat From al Qaeda is ‘Much More Broad’ Today”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Disaster Preparedness And Response Funding Has Plummeted Since 2008

Any police, fire, or public health officials reading this who have been on the job since the early 2000s? Remember after 9/11, when the federal government made tons of money available to state and local governments to bolster disaster preparedness and response capabilities? I remember it clearly, as I used to help obtain these funds for the fire department I used to work at.

Since leaving the public safety field, I’ve heard a lot of this funding has dried up. According to a UPI piece I just finished reading, it looks like I heard right. From their website on January 9:

U.S. disaster funding distribution is deeply inefficient, with huge cash infusions disbursed after a disaster, only to fall abruptly later, researchers say.

Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office of Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences… said the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York City and Washington prompted large increases in government disaster preparedness funding to help communities respond and recover after man-made and natural disasters. However, this funding has dropped considerably since 2008

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

How considerable? I pulled up a paper from The Institute of Medicine Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events (January 7 final submission date) which Dr. Pines helped author. From the piece entitled “Value-Based Models for Sustaining Emergency Preparedness Capacity and Capability in the United States”:

The Department of Homeland Security administered 5 key grant programs to state and local governments during the period 2002-2007. These programs were to include the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP), the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS), and the Citizen Corps Program (CCP). The total appropriation for these five programs increased from $315.7 million in federal year (FY) 2002 to $1.66 billion in FY 2007…

In addition to the five key DHS-funded programs, HHS administered the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). From FY 2006 to FY 2007, these programs received more than $2.1 billion in grants to all 50 states in addition to U.S. territories and 4 metropolitan cities (New York, New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, California; and Chicago, Illinois)…

From FY 2008 to FY 2013, appropriations have been falling for emergency preparedness. For example, in FY 2010, Congress appropriated $3.05 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for preparedness grants to “strengthen out nations’ ability to prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and emergencies.” In FY 2012, this appropriation was reduced to $1.35 billion- a 56 percent cut. During the same period, FEMA pre-disaster mitigations grants declined from $100 million to $35.5 million- a 65 percent cut. SHSP funding was reduced from $2.06 billion in FY 2003 to $354.64 million in FY 2013- an 82 percent cut. UASI was less affected but nevertheless was reduced from $596.35 million in FY 2003 to $558.74 million in FY 2013. Funding for seven key initiatives in DHS totaled $3.08 billion in FY 2003. By FY 2013, DHS funding was focused on only three categories of funding totaling $968.38 million- a total percentage cut of almost 70 percent…

The decline in [PHEP] funding from 2008 to 2013 has been slightly more than 17 percent, with a total of 31 percent since FY 2004…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Disasters don’t wait until there’s money in the till again, so it’s incredibly disappointing to hear of these cutbacks. As was pointed out earlier in the paper:

Since the September 2011, 2001, attacks, there have been periodic but unremitting public health emergencies across the United States. Weather events such a Hurricane Sandy, H1N1, the Boston marathon attack, and outbreaks of foodborne illness from Salmonella and E. coli serve as examples of major local and national public health emergencies demonstrating that no community is immune…

And what if a major terrorist attack occurs? Fine time for funding to be cut with that prospect looming. Consider what a distinguished Harvard professor whose work I first became familiar with back in graduate school said at a forum in April 2007. From Graham T. Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe:

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.”

By the way, Nuclear Terrorism was published back in July 2005.

I wonder what Dr. Allison would say America’s odds are now eight-and-a-half years on?

It’s only a matter of time before the next major man-made or natural disaster happens on U.S. soil. While public safety and public health personnel will strive to do all they can to lessen the impact of such events, ongoing cutbacks could have possibly impacted planning and preparedness for the incident and the overall response.

Keeping all this in mind, there’s probably no better time than the present for Americans to step up and take charge of their own emergency preparations.

You can read that paper (.pdf format) over on the Institute of Medicine website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Experts: U.S. disaster funding deeply inefficient.” UPI.com. 9 Jan. 2014. (http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/09/Experts-US-disaster-funding-deeply-inefficient/UPI-52981389329033/). 16 Jan. 2014.

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Zombie Survival Training In Chicago

It’s the beginning of a new year. And if you’re like me, you may be looking at taking a class or two in the next twelve months.

First Aid and AED/CPR training through the American Red Cross is high on my list.

Zombie Survival Training is up there as well.

Zombie Survival what?

I recently stumbled upon a locally-taught class entitled “Zombie Survival Training” on Dabble.com, an Internet “marketplace for classes.” From their website:

If the zombie apocalypse happened right now, would you be ready? Do you even have a plan?

This course is designed to teach you how to survive the worst disaster imaginable, even a wide-spread pandemic of flesh-eating zombies. Using the zombie apocalypse as the worst case scenario, we will discuss survival strategies, food and water preparation and improvised weapons. This class is perfect for zombie lovers and survivalists alike.

After this class you will know where to go, what to eat and how to defend yourself when the unthinkable happens.

Okay, so it’s not really all about zombies. In fact, at the top of the Dabble page it’s classified as a “disaster survival class.”

The course is being taught by The Green Suite. From the Dabble page:

A self-proclaimed eco-warrior, Nick Conrad founded The Green Suite to enlighten others how to lessen their impact on the environment while improving their homes. Through The Green Suite, he teaches innovative, DIY ways of producing food, power, and products from recycled objects and repurposed materials. The Green Suite offers classes, tips, and kits online to help any aspiring eco-file get started. Nick has been featured in Chicago’s Red Eye for his Zombie Survival Class and presented as a guest speaker in local schools…

I’ve heard of Nick Conrad before. Kara Spak wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website back on June 24, 2013:

Conrad, 32, an Eagle Scout, Dick’s Last Resort waiter, former improv performer, small business owner and self-described ecowarrior, teaches Zombie Survival Training in Chicago…

Conrad is a zombie-genre fan but believes there are more realistic but equally sinister scenarios we should prepare for, like a weather disaster or a terrorist attack. Those who attend Zombie Survival Training- each class has room for about 30 people- will come away ready for those as well…

Conrad has background teaching survival skills. As an Eagle Scout in Texas, he taught wilderness survival…

Through Green Suite, Conrad offers more than just survival instruction. Spak added:

He’s an active environmentalist whose dream is to live totally off the grid in the city. His company, Green Suite, teaches local folks how to create more sustainable elements in their homes, like a hydroponic garden created from wine bottles. Through Green Suite, he teaches non-zombie-themed classes showing how to make a big but low-cost impact on the environment.

In his own two-bedroom Lake View apartment, Conrad has built solar panels, a hydroponic garden and a soil garden, all of which can be removed when he moves. On the third floor, Conrad said he is well positioned to survive a zombie apocalypse.

“I’ve got food, I’m building a water filtration system, I’ve got my own electricity,” he said…

Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me. And something I’d like to learn more about in the future.

According to Dabble, the next Zombie Survival Training class is scheduled to take place on January 29 at the Holiday Club, 4000 North Sheridan Road, Chicago (I remember hitting the Holiday Club with my pals back in the mid-90s and from what I recall- wink- it was a lot of fun). The cost is $25 per person, with only 3 spots left as I type this.

For more information, you can visit the Dabble page for the class here. To receive info on future classes and other instruction, you can subscribe to The Green Suite newsletter on their website here.


“Zombie Girl- Creepy Crawler- Music Video”
(Warning- Violence)
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Spak, Karen. “ Fear not the apocalypse; zombie survival training on offer.” Chicago Sun-Times. 24 June 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/20862179-421/fear-not-the-apocalypse-zombie-survival-training-on-offer.html). 13 Jan. 2014.

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