FBI

Attack On California Power Substation Just A ‘Dress Rehearsal’?

Speaking of the fragile U.S. power grid this morning, I’ve been itching to discuss the following incident that took place in April and which I’ve been hearing more about as time goes on. Shane Harris reported on the Foreign Policy website back on December 27:

Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks — or groups of transformers — were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman.

Cooling oil then leaked from a transformer bank, causing the transformers to overheat and shut down. State regulators urged customers in the area to conserve energy over the following days, but there was no long-term damage reported at the facility and there were no major power outages. There were no injuries reported. That was the good news. The bad news is that officials don’t know who the shooter(s) were, and most importantly, whether further attacks are planned.

“Initially, the attack was being treated as vandalism and handled by local law enforcement,” the senior intelligence official said. “However, investigators have been quoted in the press expressing opinions that there are indications that the timing of the attacks and target selection indicate a higher level of planning and sophistication.”


Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office
“PG&E Substation Surveillance Video”
(Sparks from bullets @ 1:54, 2:07, 2:10, 2:57, and 3:01)
YouTube Video

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the case. Even though the shooting took place one day after the Boston Marathon bombing, Harris wrote the FBI “has no evidence that the attack is related to terrorism, and it appears to be an isolated incident.”

However, there’s this later on in the piece:

“These were not amateurs taking potshots,” Mark Johnson, a former vice president for transmission operations at PG&E, said last month at a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia. “My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal” for future attacks.

Wackjob(s)? Terrorist(s)? The authorities may never find out just who was behind the attack. But I can only imagine if this had taken place in the Chicago area during a brutal cold spell like the one we’re in now.

Should a similar attack be successful here in Chiberia-like conditions and the region plunged into an extensive and extended power outage, chaos and carnage could easily ensue.

Extreme weather (space weather included). Cyber attacks. Physical attack. I wished Washington would take steps to significantly harden the national power grid. But they won’t any time soon (other spending priorities, no immediate/substantial political “return” from doing so).

Regrettably, the bad guys have almost certainly figured this out as well.

Yep. Alternative/backup electricity and heating is starting to sound real good right now.

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

Source:

Harris, Shane. “‘Military-Style’ Raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.” Foreign Policy. 27 Dec. 2013. (http://complex.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/12/24/power-station-military-assault), 8 Jan 2014.

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FBI Director: ‘Risk Of That Spectacular Attack In The Homeland Is Significantly Lower’ Than Before 9/11

I heard that FBI Director James B. Comey was on Capitol Hill yesterday speaking before Congress. I was curious to find out what he had to say about potential terrorist threats out there. Timothy M. Phelps reported on the Los Angeles Times website yesterday:

The terrorist threat to Americans is greater overseas than at home and is significantly lower than before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, continuing a years-long trend, U.S. officials told a Senate committee Thursday…

“Because we took the fight to the enemy and got our act together in the last 12 years in very, very important ways, the risk of that spectacular attack in the homeland is significantly lower than it was before 9/11,” Comey told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Randy Beers shared Director Comey’s assessment and was quoted by the Times as saying:

The dispersion of the Al Qaeda brand in North Africa, in Yemen, in Somalia and in other places- and as it is appearing to manifest in Syria now- means that the kinds of activities that will be undertaken are likely to be undertaken overseas, rather than directed against the homeland.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

While what Comey and Beers said makes sense concerning terrorist activities are more likely to be directed at American interests overseas, I can’t help but think this is only for the time being. From what I’ve taken away from Middle East terror experts, it’s just a whole lot easier for the bad guys to stay local and fight Americans in Afghanistan, for example, than attempting to infiltrate the U.S. homeland and pull something big off there. And according to the Associated Press on November 3:

Washington is expected to keep about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, provided the security agreement is signed and includes immunity from prosecution by Afghan courts.

So this scenario might continue on for a while.

Still, it must remembered that Al-Qaeda’s stated objective still remains the following (as noted by the Director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Graham T. Allison, in a Council on Foreign Relations debate back on April 20, 2007):

Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith has stated al-Qaeda’s objective: “to kill 4 million Americans—2 million of them children—and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Which, if you think about, really leaves Al-Qaeda no choice but to attack the U.S. ‘homeland” sooner or later in order to achieve such numbers, provided they have the capability of doing so of course.

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

Sources:

Phelps, Timothy M. “Officials say terrorist threat on U.S. soil is declining.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Nov. 2013. (http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-us-terrorist-threat-declines-20131114,0,2603061.story#axzz2kj9HI8Ps). 15 Nov. 2013.

“American, NATO officials offer mixed reports on readiness of Afghan troops ahead of withdrawal.” Associated Press. 3 Nov. 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/11/03/american-nato-officials-offer-mixed-reports-on-readiness-afghan-troops-ahead/). 15 Nov. 2013.

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Terrorists Planning On Kidnapping Americans, Attacking Water Systems As Well As Airlines Again?

There is quite a lot of terrorism talk going on these days in the mainstream media outlets. On October 10, Mike Deeson reported on the website of Tampa Bay CBS affiliate 10 News about potential terrorist “dry-runs” on the airlines. Deeson wrote:

A memo obtained by the 10 News investigators from the union that represents pilots for US Airways says that “there have been several cases recently throughout the (airline) industry of what appear to be probes, or dry-runs, to test our procedures and reaction to an in flight threat.”

In a September 2 incident aboard a flight from Reagan National Airport to Orlando International Airport:

Crew members say that shortly after takeoff, a group of four “Middle Eastern” men caused a commotion.

The witnesses claim one of the men ran from his seat in coach, toward the flight deck door. He made a hard left and entered the forward bathroom “for a considerable length of time.”

While he was in there, the other three men proceeded to move about the cabin, changing seats, opening overhead bins, and “generally making a scene.” They appeared to be trying to occupy and distract the flight attendants.

“He made a hard left and entered the forward bathroom ‘for a considerable length of time.’” The other three men acting all anxious?

Could’ve been an earlier “chow call” gone horribly wrong with a subsequent frantic search for the Imodium A-D that was packed away in their checked-in luggage.

All kidding aside, both US Airways and the Transportation Security Administration confirmed the incident for 10 News investigators, and there’s been a Congressional call for an investigation of the matter according to a later 10 News piece.

On October 18, possible terrorist activity directed against Midwestern municipal water systems was reported on the Kansas City Star website. According to the paper:

The FBI is investigating a threat against water systems in four Midwestern cities, including Wichita, Kan.

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said Friday the FBI hasn’t substantiated any threats to the four cities. She would not name those cities, saying only that they were confined to the Midwest.

Finally, last weekend it was reported that intelliegence sources have informed FOX News there’s been significant Internet chatter by terrorists urging followers to kidnap Americans overseas:


“U.S. uncovers new terror threats from Al Shabab”
FOX News Video

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

Sources:

Deeson, Mike. “10 News Investigators find memo warning about terrorist “dry-runs” on airplanes.” 10 News Tampa Bay. 10 Oct. 2013. (http://www.wtsp.com/news/topstories/article/339104/0/INVESTIGATORS-Memo-warns-of-terrorist-dry-runs-on-planes). 24 Oct. 2013.

“FBI investigating threat to water systems in Midwestern cities.” Kansas City Star. 18 Oct. 2013. (http://www.kansascity.com/2013/10/18/4561155/fbi-investigating-threat-to-water.html). 24 Oct. 2013.

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Chicago Named ‘Murder Capital Of U.S.’

Back on August 6, 2012, I blogged about Chicago, Illinois, holding the title of “Deadliest Global City.”

And just this morning, I saw the “Windy City” being named the new “Murder Capital” of the United States.

From a GovBeat blog post on the Washington Post website yesterday:

FBI: Chicago passes New York as murder capital of U.S.

The city of Chicago registered more homicides than any city in the nation in 2012, surpassing even New York — despite the fact that the Second City has only one third as many residents as the Big Apple.

In new crime statistics released Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, up sharply from the 431 recorded in 2011. New York reported 419 murders last year, compared with 515 in 2011…

I know what a number of you are thinking right now:

“How that gun “control” working out for you, Chicago?”

“Deadliest Global City.” “Murder Capital of U.S.” Real nice. My relatives buried in old St. Boniface Cemetery on Clark are probably rolling in their graves right now knowing the city they helped build has come to this.

If they were still alive and kicking, I have a feeling they’d demand the bad guys be put in their graves instead.

Anyway, for your reference, here are the FBI’s numbers for Chicago from the just released Crime in the United States 2012 report, with 2011 data in parentheses. From the Criminal Justice Information Services Division:

Table 8
ILLINOIS
Offenses Known to Law Enforcement
by City, 2012

Chicago2
Population- 2,708,382 (2,703,713)
Violent crime-
Murder and negligent manslaughter- 500 (431)
Forcible rape-
Robbery- 13,476 (13,975)
Aggravated assault- 12,272 (12,408)
Property crime- 112,466 (118,239)
Burglary- 22,748 (26,420)
Larceny-theft- 72,717 (72,373)
Motor vehicle theft- 17,001 (19,446)
Arson1-

1 The FBI does not publish arson data unless it receives data from either the agency or the state for all 12 months of the calendar year.

2 The data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by Chicago, Illinois does not comply with national Uniform Crime Reporting Program guidelines. Consequently, its figures for forcible rape and violent crime (of which forcible rape is a part) are not published in this table.

To view the entire report, visit the FBI website here.

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

Source:

Wilson, Reid. “FBI: Chicago passes New York as murder capital of U.S.” GovBeat. 18 Sep. 2013. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/09/18/fbi-chicago-passes-new-york-as-murder-capital-of-u-s/?tid=pm_politics_pop). 19 Sep. 2013.

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9/11 Anniversary Terrorism Threat

This Wednesday marks the 12th anniversary of 9/11. And according to the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they do not have any specific information concerning a terrorist attack being planned for the occasion. From the Associated Press right before the weekend:

The government is aware of no credible or specific information that points to any terror plot tied to the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, according to a new confidential threat assessment from the FBI and Homeland Security Department obtained by The Associated Press.

The new assessment, dated Thursday, said that intelligence agencies remain concerned that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are committed to carrying out attacks on Western targets. But it said there was no information pointing to any known plot. The bulletin made no mention of Syria, even as President Barack Obama sought congressional approval to use military force against the Syrian government.

Then again, the September 11, 2001, plot was pretty much under the radar too, figuratively and literally.

Remember, as I blogged back in June 2011, Osama bin Laden’s successor in Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, still has a point to prove concerning doubts over the operational capabilities of the terrorist organization and his leadership abilities.

At the same time, I can’t help but suspect Al-Qaeda might wait to see if the United States attacks Syria, at which point they- along with other terror groups- will attempt to retaliate “in defense of the Muslim faith.”

Stay frosty in the coming days…

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

Source:

“FBI, Homeland Security: No credible or specific intel of threat tied to 9/11 anniversary.” FOX News. 6 Sep. 2013. (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/06/fbi-homeland-security-no-credible-or-specific-intel-threat-tied-to-11/). 9 Sep. 2013.

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False Flag Bombing To Frame Anti-Government Militias, Start Civil War, Thwarted By Feds

“False flag” events.

Incidents designed to deceive in such a way that they appear as if they were carried out by other entities.

Conspiracy theory?

Hardly.

From a February 8 press release out of the San Francisco office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Federal Agents Arrest Man After He Attempts to Bomb Bank in Oakland

OAKLAND, CA—Federal agents arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, age 28, of San Jose, California, this morning after he allegedly attempted to detonate a vehicle-borne explosive device at a bank branch in Oakland.

Llaneza’s arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which he was closely monitored by the FBI’s South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Unbeknownst to Llaneza, the explosive device that he allegedly attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public. Llaneza was charged this morning by criminal complaint with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce.

The arrest was announced by Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and FBI Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco Field Office, David J. Johnson.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on November 30, 2012, Llaneza met with a man who led him to believe he was connected with the Taliban and the mujahidin in Afghanistan. In reality, this man was an undercover FBI agent. At this initial meeting, Llaneza proposed conducting a car-bomb attack against a bank in the San Francisco Bay Area. He proposed structuring the attack to make it appear that the responsible party was an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers. Llaneza’s stated goal was to trigger a governmental crackdown, which he expected would trigger a right-wing counter-response against the government followed by, he hoped, civil war.

The complaint further alleges that Llaneza subsequently selected the Bank of America branch at 303 Hegenberger Road in Oakland as the target for the attack. Llaneza ultimately specified a spot next to a support column of the bank building as a good location for the bomb, expressed a desire for the bomb to bring down the entire bank building, and offered to drive the car bomb to the bank at the time of the attack.

According to the complaint, in January and February 2013, Llaneza and the undercover agent constructed the purported explosive device inside a sport utility vehicle (SUV) parked inside a storage facility in Hayward, California. As part of the process of assembling the device, Llaneza purchased two cell phones to be used in creating and operating the trigger device for the car bomb. One of these cell phones was incorporated into the trigger device itself. The other was reserved for use on the night of the attack.

The criminal complaint alleges that on the evening of February 7, 2013, Llaneza drove the SUV containing the purported explosive device to the target bank branch in Oakland. He parked the SUV beneath an overhang of the bank building where he armed the trigger device. He then proceeded on foot to a nearby location a safe distance from the bank building, where he met the undercover agent. Once there, Llaneza attempted to detonate the bomb by using the second cell phone he had purchased to place two calls to the trigger device attached to the car bomb. Federal agents then arrested him.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Many times, things just aren’t as they seem. I try to keep this in mind when I digest the daily news and what look to be longer trends going on in the world today.

You can read the entire press release on the FBI website here.

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

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Monday, February 11th, 2013 Crime, Government, Public Safety, War No Comments

Chicago-Area Bank Robberies This Year Surpass All Of 2011

These few dollars you lose here today are going to buy you stories to tell your children and great-grandchildren. This could be one of the big moments in your life; don’t make it your last!

-John Dillinger, famous Depression-era bank robber, during one of his hold-ups

Right before the economic crisis reared its ugly head in 2008, I remember seeing new banks popping up all over the Chicagoland area.

Drove urban planners/economic development-types nuts (lack of sales tax revenue).

Bank robbers are loving it these days though. Plenty of pickings to choose from.

Kara Spak reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

The Chicago FBI office has recorded 117 bank robberies so far this year, two more than in all of 2011.

Ross Rice, FBI spokesman, said 2011 was simply “a really slow year.”

“People didn’t rob banks,” he said. “It’s really that simple. Less people robbed banks and we don’t know why.”

Chicago-area bank robberies peaked at 284 in 2006, according to the FBI.

Here’s hoping we don’t get on track for a record-breaking pace in the final months of 2012.

Source:

Spak, Kara. “Chicago area bank robberies pass 2011 level — and it’s only August.” Chicago Sun-Times. 8 Aug. 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/14339394-761/chicago-area-bank-robberies-pass-2011-level-and-its-only-august.html). 9 Aug. 2012.

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Thursday, August 9th, 2012 Banking, Crime No Comments

‘Internet Doomsday’ Less Than A Week Away

July 9, 2012. “Internet Doomsday.”

Back on February 16 I wrote:

The last couple of days, I’ve heard chatter about possibly not being able to access the Internet in early March. This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The March 8 deadline was eventually pushed back. I added on March 7:

Well, it looks like a potential “Internet Doomsday” has been avoided- for now. Fahmida Rashid wrote this morning on the PC Magazine website:

A federal judge has given users infected with DNSChanger a four-month extension to get clean.

The FBI-controlled DNS servers that replaced the malicious servers will not shut down on March 8 as previously announced. But nearly half a million computers are still at risk for losing Internet connectivity when the new deadline rolls around in July…

The new deadline for getting cleaned up and averting the Internet blackout is now July 9. Users should immediately check their computers if they haven’t already done so.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

July 9- less than a week away. And potentially hundreds of thousands of computers (maybe even more) are still at risk of not being able to connect to the Internet. Matt Liebowitz wrote in MSNBC.com’s Technolog this weekend:

In 10 days, there’s a chance you will not be able to access the Internet on your personal computer. No email, no Facebook, no Google, no Twitter — nothing.

This potentially dire situation is due to the nasty DNSChanger Trojan, and the fateful date of July 9, on which the FBI is set to take all computers still infected with the malware offline for good. The date is being dubbed “Internet doomsday” for those who don’t take action.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

According to Liebowitz, 12 percent of Fortune 500 companies possess these at-risk computers. He added:

In his Krebs on Security blog, researcher Brian Krebs cites a statistic from the DNSChanger Working Group, which estimates that more than 300,000 computers are still infected with the malware.

“That number is likely conservative,” Krebs said. “The DCWG measures infections by Internet protocol (IP) addresses, not unique systems. Because many systems that are on the same local network often share the same IP address, the actual number of DNSChanger-infected machines is probably quite a bit higher than 300,000.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, computer owners can “test to see if you are affected by visiting the following DNSChanger Check-Up sites below.” These can be accessed on the FBI website here. Otherwise, one can go directly to the English language DNSChanger diagnostic site- maintained by the DNSChanger Working Group (DCWG)- here.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Liebowitz, Matt. “Last call to wipe DNSChanger before ‘Internet doomsday.’” Technolog. 30 June 2012. (http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/last-call-wipe-dnschanger-internet-doomsday-854340). 3 July 2012.

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Al-Qaeda Behind Colorado Wildfires?

When I saw the following on the FOX News website tonight, I initially rolled my eyes:

Raging Wildfires in Colorado prompts FBI investigation

The Federal Bureau Investigation announced Wednesday that it would investigate the cause of a raging wildfire that displaced thousands of residents and an untold number of homes in Colorado…

Then I remembered something I came across recently that mentioned Al-Qaeda wanting to use such fires as a terror weapon. From Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC-TV Channel 7 back on May 3:

Al Qaeda terrorists are calling on followers to ignite wildfires in the U.S., which could make California a target…

An al Qaeda-linked website is now calling on extremists to set fires in remote areas. The websites even provide instructions on how to make fire bombs and firefighters are taking it seriously. “It does not seem all that farfetched. A wildfire moves quite quickly and can inflict damage, and if people have that intent, it’s very frightening,” said Battalion chief Julie Hutchinson with the California Fire Department. The instructions to extremists come from Inspire, al Qaeda’s online publication which was started by American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. missile strike in September, but the publication is still being produced.


ABC Video

In addition, Gwen Florio wrote on The Billings Gazette website on May 4:

Terrorists who want to strike fear in the hearts of Americans would do well to set wildfires in Montana, al-Qaida advises in the most recent issue of its English-language magazine, Inspire.

“It is difficult to choose a better place other than in the valleys of Montana where the population increases rapidly,” Inspire’s “AQ Chef” columnist writes.

It sure will be interesting to see if the FBI investigation turns up anything.

Sources:

Granda, Carlos, Gregory, John and Michaelson, Elex. “Al Qaeda threatening to start wildfires in US.” KABC-TV Channel 7. 3 May 2012. (http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/national_world&id=8646527). 28 June 2012.

Florio, Gwen. “Al-Qaida magazine urges terrorists to set wildfires in Montana.” The Billings Gazette. 4 May 2012. (http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/al-qaida-magazine-urges-terrorists-to-set-wildfires-in-montana/article_33122cb4-30b1-5f70-a917-c6a58a629cd5.html). 28 June 2012.

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Thursday, June 28th, 2012 Government, Natural Disasters, Terrorism No Comments

Black Bloc, Terrorists Could Threaten Chicago NATO Summit

Activity continues to grow surrounding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit taking place here in Chicago this weekend and into early next week. From the Chicago Tribune this afternoon:

The first rally of the NATO protest weekend went off peacefully but groups of protesters conducted impromptu marches afterward on downtown streets that Chicago police tried to contain.

The two groups of protesters that had been marching through the Loop converged at Michigan Avenue shortly before 3 p.m.

Police, who had allowed the groups to wander through Loop streets largely unrestricted, stopped them halfway across the Michigan Avenue bridge, not allowing them to go further north.

On the bridge, one protester in a black shirt and Mohawk jumped up and pulled down a NATO banner on the bridge. Police officers quickly surrounded him, put him on the ground, and handcuffed him. One police officer appeared to strike her head on the bridge during the incident. Another protester obtained a police officer’s baton and threw it across the bridge…

Loop workers watched the impromptu march from their offices windows as the downtown streets seemed devoid of the typical tourist traffic often found in Chicago on warm Friday afternoons.

Drivers became impatient, however, as demonstrators snarled traffic by walking among cars and bringing the streets to a standstill.

The rally was far from the angry, violent protests seen at other gatherings of world leaders…

While I’d like to think the summit will remain that way, significant threats to law and order could come from the “Black Bloc” and terrorists. So what exactly is the Black Bloc? From Phil Rogers on the website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 this past Tuesday:

As Chicago prepares for the NATO Summit this weekend, police in other cities, and even some veteran demonstrators are offering some advice: “beware of the black bloc”.

Black Bloc demonstrators are self-styled anarchists who appear at large demonstrations, often at world summits, and are known for inciting violence.

From Reuters’ Andrew Stern on MSNBC.com that same day:

The main risk, security experts said, is that so-called “BlackBloc” anarchists will wreak havoc.

A recent tweet posted on the Twitter site of #blackbloc, a shadowy anarchist group, said: “#blackbloc comrades, keep a low profile till u are forced 2 act. We do no 1 any good in jail all day.”

If recent reports shared on an unofficial Chicago Police Department blog are to be believed, Black Bloc demonstrators will make their presence known in the Windy City in the coming days. From Second City Cop yesterday morning:

Has anyone been checking the Greyhound Station lately? Because our network people who are monitoring the subversives relate the following:

• According to their counting, 700 members of “anonymous” are arriving from the East Coast;
• 1200 are arriving from the West Coast;
• upwards of 3300 members of the “black bloc” and associated groups are coming from Canada and Seattle;

All of this prior to Friday. Is there a bit of bravado and exaggeration in those numbers? Undoubtedly. But the ones that do show up are going to be the truly dedicated assholes just itching to disrupt, damage and destroy.

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

And then there’s the threat of terrorism. Andrew Stern wrote in a piece on the Reuters website last night:

The FBI said on Thursday there was “absolutely no indication” of a terror attack threat in Chicago, although the city was considered a potential target even before President Barack Obama and other leaders meet for this weekend’s NATO summit.

FBI agent Ross Rice said the agency will be on heightened alert in Chicago, with extra agents brought in to react if its intelligence network sniffs out a plot. The FBI has agents in 70 countries, gathering intelligence.

“Several international terrorist groups have elevated Chicago in their mind to their No. 1 target for terrorist attack,” Rice said in an interview at the U.S. government’s nerve center inside a non-descript suburban Chicago office complex. Reporters were asked to keep the location secret.

“But there’s absolutely no indication that we’ve developed that any group or organization has a plan afoot to disrupt the summit this week,” Rice said.

Jeff Coen also talked about the potential threat from terrorism during the NATO Summit and wrote on the Chicago Tribune website last Friday:

Experts agreed that although any pooling of world leaders presumably makes for a tempting target for the likes of al-Qaida and other networks, the city is probably not under any more serious threat than usual.

As I type this from Chicago’s northwest side late this afternoon- here’s hoping the experts are right.

Sources:

“Thousands rally, hundreds then march.” Chicago Tribune. 18 May 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/natosummit/chi-first-nato-weekend-rally-unfolds-at-daley-plaza-20120518,0,5210924.story). 18 May 2012.

Rogers, Phil. “Police, Peaceful Protesters: Beware the “Black Bloc” Channel 5 Chicago. 15 May 2012. (http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/chicago-nato-summit-protesters-black-bloc-151650715.html). 18 May 2012.

Stern, Andrew. “Chicago braces for violence at NATO summit.” Reuters. 15 May 2012. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47439309#.T7a8rVIUP8l). 18 May 2012.

SCC. “Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy…” Second City Cop. 17 May 2012. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2012/05/those-whom-gods-would-destroy.html). 18 May 2012.

Stern, Andrew. “’No indication’ of terror threat to Chicago NATO summit-FBI.” Reuters. 17 May 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/17/nato-summit-security-idUSL1E8GHDSN20120517). 18 May 2012.

Coen, Jeff. “Terrorism at NATO summit viewed as improbable, not impossible.” Chicago Tribune. 11 May 2012. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-11/news/ct-met-nato-summit-terrorism-risk-0511-20120511_1_nato-summit-summit-events-nato-host-committee). 18 May 2012.

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Authorities Concerned About ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist Attacks On Anniversary Of Osama Bin Laden’s Death

On May 1, 2011, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs taking part in Operation Neptune Spear in Pakistan. With the one-year anniversary of his death fast approaching, intelligence agencies are concerned about a possible retaliatory strike(s) by Muslim extremists. Mike Levine wrote on the FOX News website this morning:

Just days before the one-year anniversary of Usama bin Laden’s death, federal authorities are telling partners around the country there is no specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland but they remain concerned “lone wolf” terrorists could use the date to avenge the former Al Qaeda leader’s death.

In an intelligence bulletin issued late Wednesday, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Northern Command note that terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Northern Africa’s Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Pakistani Taliban have called for revenge against the United States for killing bin Laden during the May 1, 2011, raid on his hideout in Pakistan.

The bulletin says Al Qaeda or its affiliates would view an attack “on this anniversary as a symbolic victory,” especially in the wake of losses suffered by Al Qaeda through U.S. drone attacks and other efforts overseas.

In addition, according to the bulletin, authorities remain concerned that so-called “lone-wolf” extremists not already identified “will execute attacks with little or no warning on or about the anniversary of bin Laden’s death.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Levine added that the intelligence bulletin cited Al-Qaeda’s emphasis on symbolic dates to launch terror attacks, and that Muslim extremists might be particularly motivated to carry out a strike in retaliation for recent controversies including Koran burnings and the desecration of corpses in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Steven Chase wrote about the concern over “lone wolf” terrorists on The Globe and Mail (Canada) website. From the article:

Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, also acknowledged Monday that al-Qaeda’s switch to a sole-actor approach to inflicting damage is presenting a problem for Western anti-terrorist agencies…

Mr. Fadden predicted al-Qaeda’s recent embrace of smaller, leaderless acts of terror is a sign of things to come.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has as recently as last fall published an online magazine called Inspire that called for “open source jihad” and instructed readers to how to carry out their own attacks, he noted. “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” was the title of article in the Summer, 2010, issue.

“My colleagues in Britain, Australia and the United States are of the same opinion: We are seeing an increase in the number of people who are acting on their own,” he said.

“When there are a certain number of people involved, there is a possibility of intercepting communications; the chances of errors are far greater. But when there’s one person who’s not talking to anybody, [counterterrorism agencies] have to be really lucky.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

In addition, Fadden pointed out that the “lone wolf” approach not only attracts the ideologically-driven, but those with “serious personal problems” as well- making them more unpredictable.

It might not be a bad idea ratcheting up one’s vigilance in the coming days.

Sources:

Levine, Mike. “Feds urge vigilance 1 year after bin Laden’s death.” FOX News. 26 Apr. 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/04/25/feds-urge-vigilance-1-year-after-bin-laden-death/). 26 Apr. 2012.

Chase, Steven. “Al-Qaeda switching tactics, CSIS warns.” The Globe and Mail. 23 Apr. 2012. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/al-qaeda-switching-tactics-csis-warns/article2411810/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=Politics&utm_content=2411810). 26 Apr. 2012.

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Questionable Ipsos/Reuters Poll About Gun Rights And Regulations

Questions abound concerning an Ipsos poll on gun rights and regulations that was recently conducted for Thomson Reuters. From the Ipsos press release this morning:

Washington, DC – These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted for Thomson Reuters from April 9th-12th, 2012 about gun rules and regulations.

• The NRA is a reasonably popular organization. Unsurprisingly, favorability towards the NRA is stronger among Republicans but a majority of Democrats have a favorable attitude towards the organization.
• As comparison points, we also asked about the NAACP, ACLU and AARP. AARP has the strongest favorability rates of the four organizations. Favorability towards the ACLU and NAACP are both strongly influenced by partisan ID.
• Americans are broadly supportive of restrictions or regulations on gun ownership.
• Only 6% say there should be no or very few restrictions on gun ownership.
• 62% oppose allowing people to bring a firearm into a church, workplace or retail establishment.
• 91% support background checks for gun purchasers.
• 69% support limiting the number of guns a person could purchase in a given time frame.
• 74% support laws limiting the sale of automatic weapons.
• However, Americans are also broadly supportive of a number of pro-gun laws including:
• Majorities support concealed carry laws and allowing the use of deadly force, both in homes and public places.
• Framing this discussion, Americans remain concerned with crime and are concerned about what is to be done about it.
• Almost half of Americans think crime rates are going up in their communities.
• Significant majorities do not think police can stop all crime from happening
• As a consequence, large majorities believe regular people need to step up to prevent crimes (leading to the Trayvon Martin incident).

I’m surprised the poll asked about automatic weapons (i.e. machine guns, according to actual survey question) as opposed to semi-automatic firearms. Machine guns are already highly restricted for law-abiding citizens. I wrote back on June 6, 2011:

According to the well-known firearms resource website GunCite.com, which focuses on a “comprehensive presentation of gun control and Second Amendment issues; analysis of firearms statistics, research, and gun control policies”:

It has been unlawful since 1934 (The National Firearms Act) for civilians to own machine guns without special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department . Machine guns are subject to a $200 tax every time their ownership changes from one federally registered owner to another, and each new weapon is subject to a manufacturing tax when it is made, and it must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in its National Firearms Registry.

To become a registered owner, a complete FBI background investigation is conducted, checking for any criminal history or tendencies toward violence, and an application must be submitted to the ATF including two sets of fingerprints, a recent photo, a sworn affidavit that transfer of the NFA firearm is of “reasonable necessity,” and that sale to and possession of the weapon by the applicant “would be consistent with public safety.” The application form also requires the signature of a chief law enforcement officer with jurisdiction in the applicant’s residence.

Since the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of May 19, 1986, ownership of newly manufactured machine guns has been prohibited to civilians. Machine guns which were manufactured prior to the Act’s passage are regulated under the National Firearms Act, but those manufactured after the ban cannot ordinarily be sold to or owned by civilians.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

GunCite also adds:

Twenty-five states have no further restrictions on civilian ownership of machine guns (some require registration with the state) than what is required by federal law. Other states have either placed further restrictions or outlawed operable machine guns to civilians entirely.

As existing laws mean automatic firearms are already highly-regulated for law-abiding citizens, and it’s semi-automatic guns (one trigger pull, one shot only) that are presently under attack by gun “control” supporters, in a poll about gun rights/regulation one would reasonably expect a question about limiting firearm sales to be about semi-automatics rather than machine guns.

In addition, note the following excerpt from the press release:

As a consequence, large majorities believe regular people need to step up to prevent crimes (leading to the Trayvon Martin incident)

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Now, the original poll question:

Regular people need to step up to help prevent crime from happening

So where did “(leading to the Trayvon Martin incident)” come from?

Scratching my head about this poll.

You can read the entire press release and access the survey data on the Ipsos website here.

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Latest On Al-Qaeda, Iran Terror Threats To U.S.

The following graphic, which was discovered yesterday on an Arabic-speaking web site, is turning a few heads in the counter-terrorism community:

From Al Baker on The New York Times website earlier today:

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the image, discovered early on Monday on an Arabic-language Web site, was not tied to any specific threat against the city

Mr. Kelly said investigators “are still, obviously, very much concerned about the origination of this message” and are working with their counterparts in the federal government to understand its meaning, the timing and who is behind it.

Later on Tuesday, J. Peter Donald, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that its terrorism task force was also investigating. He added: “There continues to be no specific or credible threat to New York at this time.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Others dismiss the idea that the image was meant to be a threat completely. Baker added:

But several terrorism experts were skeptical. One of them, Aaron Y. Zelin, the editor of the blog Jihadology and a researcher in the department of politics at Brandeis University, said in an e-mail that it “appears dubious” that the post was a real threat.

“The pictures were posted in ‘Department of Audio & Visual’ / ‘Images & Design’ as a note on how to Photoshop,” Mr. Zelin said. “It was a lesson, not threat,” he said.

Some lesson. As if the following Photoshopped image wasn’t worrisome enough already:

On a more serious note, a senior Iranian military commander issued a separate threat to the United States today. From Reuters this morning:

The United States would not be safe from retaliation if Iran is attacked by Washington, the Iran newspaper quoted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander on Tuesday as saying.

“In the face of any attack, we will have a crushing response. In that case, we will not only act in the boundaries of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, no place in America will be safe from our attacks,” Massoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying by the daily.

Iran would not strike any country first, he said.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

As I pointed out recently, some terrorism observers believe Iran has intelligence officers and other assets already in the United States who may be capable of carrying out retaliatory strikes within the U.S. homeland should Iran be attacked by America and/or Israel.

Sources:

Baker, Al. “Officials Seek Origin of Terrorism Threat Made in Al Qaeda’s Name.” The New York Times. 3 Apr. 2012. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/nyregion/new-york-police-commissioner-takes-al-qaeda-threat-seriously.html). 3 Apr. 2012.

“Iran says could hit U.S. if it came under attack: paper.” Reuters. 3 Apr. 2012. (http://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-could-hit-u-came-under-attack-153211942.html). 3 Apr. 2012.

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Potential March 8 ‘Internet Doomsday’ Avoided For Now

(Editor’s note: Update to post published here)

Time for some follow-up posts this morning. Who remembers when I blogged about a number of Americans possibly not being able to access the Internet tomorrow, March 8? I wrote on February 16:

This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Well, it looks like a potential “Internet Doomsday” has been avoided- for now. Fahmida Rashid wrote this morning on the PC Magazine website:

A federal judge has given users infected with DNSChanger a four-month extension to get clean.

The FBI-controlled DNS servers that replaced the malicious servers will not shut down on March 8 as previously announced. But nearly half a million computers are still at risk for losing Internet connectivity when the new deadline rolls around in July…

The new deadline for getting cleaned up and averting the Internet blackout is now July 9. Users should immediately check their computers if they haven’t already done so.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The article (located on PCMag.com here) contains the latest information on detecting and removing this Trojan.

I’ll make a note on my calendar in early July to see what sort of progress has been made in averting this potential Internet blackout.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Rashid, Fahmida Y. “Avoid Internet Doomsday: Check for DNSChanger Malware Now.” PC Magazine. 7 Mar. 2012. (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2401227,00.asp). 7 Mar. 2012.

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 Crime, Technology 1 Comment

Millions Could Lose Internet Access Starting March 8

(Editor’s note: Update to post published here)

The last couple of days, I’ve heard chatter about possibly not being able to access the Internet in early March. This afternoon I came across a piece that’s being featured on Yahoo! which explains what this is all about. From Steve Huff on the Betabeat website today:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may yank several crucial domain name servers (DNS) offline on March 8, blocking millions from using the Internet. The servers in the FBI’s crosshairs were installed in 2011 to deal with a nasty worm dubbed DNSChanger Trojan. DNSChanger can get an innocent end-user in trouble; it changes an infected system’s DNS settings to shunt Web traffic to unwanted and possibly even illegal sites.

DNSChanger oozed out of Estonia and may have fouled up as many as a half-million computers in the United States. The feds’ temporary fix to keep the worm from propagating was to replace infected servers with clean surrogates.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

You can read the rest of what Huff has to say on the BetaBeat website here. He includes information for large network operators and individual users about finding out if they’ve been infected.

(Editor’s note: The author disclaims any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Europe, Government, Technology No Comments


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