Muslim extremists

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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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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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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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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Americans And ‘EU Passport’-Holding Jihadists Fighting In Syria Scrutinized As Potential Terrorists

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.

Emery Dalesio of the Associated Press reported on The Christian Science Monitor website this past Saturday:

Federal officials say Americans are joining the bloody civil war in Syria, raising the chances they could become radicalized by Al Qaeda-linked militant groups and return to the U.S. as battle-hardened security risks.

The State Department says it has no estimates of how many Americans have taken up weapons to fight military units loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 3-year-old war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Other estimates — from an arm of the British defense consultant IHS Jane’s and from experts at a nonprofit think tank in London — put the number of Americans at a couple dozen.

“A couple dozen.”

You may recall that only ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

Granted, just because these Americans are fighting alongside Muslim extremists (among others) in Syria doesn’t mean they’re automatically terrorists. Still, federal agencies are concerned.


“American Mujahid with Chechen Mujahidin fights in Syrian against Bashar”
YouTube Video

There are also worries over 1,000 or so EU member state passport holders who have also taken up arms in Syria. Vadim Fersovich reported on The Voice Of Russia website on November 25:

Of the 5,000 to 10,000 “foreign” mercenaries, about 1,000 “jihadists” carry EU passports, according to a classified report by the German Intelligence Service (Der Spiegel, October 21st ). But that thousand is made up of dozens, perhaps, hundreds (at the most) of nationals of different countries. Some of them will die in Syria; others will choose not to return. But those who will come back will move to their homes, so the hundreds will again break down into isolated people. Experts believe that an overwhelming majority of those who will buy the return ticket have for good lost interest in dangerous adventures because of actual fierce fighting. The insurgents realize that back home, security agencies are quite effective, while the number of those thinking along the same lines as terrorists is incommensurably small.

Of course, even individual terrorists pose a threat, given that they can use their passports to freely travel about Europe and the United States. According to a former CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer, they return home with a list of their mujahedeen buddies who may give advice and/or help out with the money, if necessary.

(Editor’s notes: Italics added for emphasis)

It should be pointed out that not all “EU passport” holders can “freely travel” around the United States. The U.S. State Department explains such restrictions on their website here.

Regardless, continued vigilance is still required to combat the threat of terrorism now- and maybe even more so- in the future.

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

Sources:

Dalesio, Emery P. “FBI warns about Americans joining Islamic fighters in Syria.” Associated Press. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/r14/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/1130/FBI-warns-about-Americans-joining-Islamic-fighters-in-Syria). 2 Dec. 2013.

Fersovich, Vadim. “Is Jihad likely in the West?” The Voice Of Russia. 25 Nov. 2013. (http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_25/Is-Jihad-likely-in-the-West-0430/). 2 Dec. 2013.

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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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One World Trade Center Terror-Resistant?

Yesterday, Chicagoans found out that New York City’s One World Trade Center will unseat Willis (formerly Sears) Tower as the tallest building in the country once it’s completed.

By the way, when did the skyscraper’s name change from “Freedom Tower” to One World Trade Center?

Chris Kokanes reported on the CNN website back on March 27, 2009:

“We’ve referred to the primary building planned for the site as One World Trade Center — its legal name and street address — for almost two years now, as well as using the name the Freedom Tower,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the Port Authority, in a statement released to CNN. “Many will always refer to it as the Freedom Tower, but as the building moves out of the planning stage and into full construction and leasing, we believe that going forward it is most practical to market the building as One World Trade Center.”

Okay. Seeing that Al-Qaeda attacked the original 1 World Trade Center (North Tower) and 2 World Trade Center (South Tower) in 1993 and 2001, I suspect the 1,776-foot building might very well be a mouth-watering target for these terrorists, perhaps wanting to demonstrate to the world they can keep such an iconic structure from rising from the ashes of its predecessors.

Which leads me to ask another question- what terror-resistant features are built into the new One World Trade Center?

Mara Grunbaum wrote on the Discover magazine website on September 8, 2011:

Security measures begin at ground level with a 186-foot base built to withstand a blast more powerful than the 1993 car bombing, which, according to the NYPD, was equivalent to 900 pounds of TNT. While the frame of the Twin Towers was erected entirely of steel, the base of the new building, as well as a core running up its center, will be forged from 5.4 million cubic feet of concrete, enough to fill 60 Olympic-size swimming pools. The concrete mix can withstand pressure of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch and is the toughest ever used for a New York City building. Its strength comes from a combination of reinforcing steel rods, a newly developed mix of materials, and a high-tech curing process. The chemical reactions that bolster concrete as it hardens are very sensitive to temperature, so as the mix is poured, engineers drop in microchip thermometers that wirelessly relay temperature readings.

The building’s surrounding steel frame will be just as tough. When planes struck the Twin Towers in 2001, the floors located just below the impact buckled beneath the weight above, setting off a domino effect that led to a total collapse. One World Trade will feature beams and columns welded and bolted together to distribute the weight, so that if any two columns fail, the rest can pick up the slack.

Grunbaum also added that of the 70 elevators planned, 5 will clock-out at 23 miles per hour, taking only 1 minute to reach the top floor of the 105-story skyscraper.

While I’d like to think these anti-terrorism features at the new One World Trade Center building won’t be tested by the bad guys, something tells me they very well might be.

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

Sources:

Kokenes, Chris. “Owners drop Freedom Tower name for new WTC skyscraper.” CNN. 27 Mar. 2009. (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/27/no.freedom.tower/). 13 Nov. 2013.

Grunbaum, Mara. “The New WTC Tower: Tough on Terrorists, Easy on the Eyes.” Discover. 8 Sep. 2011. (http://discovermagazine.com/2011/oct/06-new-wtc-tower-tough-terrorists-easy-eyes#.UoQumeL4Lq9). 13 Nov. 2013.

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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 Public Safety, Religion, Security, Terrorism, War No Comments

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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What Effect Have (Post-) Apocalyptic-Themed TV Shows And Films Had On The Prepping Movement?

“i friggin LOVE “doomsday preppers”!”

-Milla Jovovich, American model and actress of Resident Evil-fame, Facebook post, November 24, 2012

Back in February 2012, the Daily Mail (UK) reported that “as many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’- people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.”

(Editor’s note: Most mainstream media outlets drop that “as we know it” bit out, which is a shame as there’s an important distinction to be made between preparing for the “end of the world as we know it” as opposed to the actual “end of the world” where such activity may be thought of as futile. Kudos to the the British publication for keeping this scenario “intact.”)

That the ranks of individuals taking up preparedness have grown significantly in the last couple of years while (post-) apocalyptic-themed television shows and big screen productions simultaneously exploded in popularity is probably not coincidence. As a matter of fact, it’s something the National Geographic Channel, as part of an upcoming “Blog Carnival,” is currently exploring. The American cable and satellite television channel wants to know what effect these TV shows and films have had on the prepping movement.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a strong correlation between the two. As more shows and movies of the (post-) apocalyptic genre were aired/released for public viewing, I can’t help but suspect increasing numbers of Americans bought into the idea of prepping.

I have a feeling the seed for prepping was already planted before watching such shows and films in many cases. Scientific and technological advancements in the Information Age have increased Americans’ knowledge of potential man-made and natural disasters beyond events fresh in the mind of many such as 9/11, 2005′s Hurricane Katrina, the Panic of ’08, 2012′s Hurricane Sandy, and April’s Boston Marathon Bombings. Viewing such productions on a TV in the family room or at a local movie theater might have made such threats feel closer to home, thereby prompting action.

So the TV shows and films may have served as some sort of prepping recruitment vehicle. Yet at the same time, the preppers portrayed in such media have more often than not been of the extreme sort. These individuals probably aren’t a good representative of your typical prepper, if only because there are many different kinds of preppers out there.

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed a number of production companies and cable/satellite television channels have come under fire because of the way preppers are portrayed. I can understand why this is, as some believe such depictions only serve to fuel ridicule and potential persecution of preppers by a number of parties including the mainstream media and the government. However, keep in mind that cable/satellite television channels and production companies are part of the entertainment industry, where these extreme prepper types can be quite entertaining to watch (cha-ching!). Those behind the ridiculing and potential persecution of American citizens for merely fulfilling the federal government’s recommendations as it concerns household emergency preparedness should keep this in mind as well.

At the end of the day, it must be pointed out that preppers actually perform a major public service in the event of a community/regional/national emergency. That’s right. Think about it. Preppers strive to be able to take care of themselves, family, friends, and even neighbors in many cases in the event of a real crisis. That’s one less person or group of people public safety agencies need to attend to in a significant emergency, where resources are typically stretched thin already. Because preppers can assume this “sheepdog” role, police, fire, and other groups can focus their limited amount of resources on others (more often than not, those who didn’t prepare).

One might even argue here it should be the civic duty of Americans to prep if they can.

Imagine if every American household had a couple of weeks of emergency food, water, and other supplies socked away in case of emergency. The next time a man-made or natural disaster reared its ugly head, think how much smoother the emergency response might be, especially when compared to those recent events I listed earlier.

Returning to the National Geographic Channel’s question as to what effect (post-) apocalyptic-themed TV shows and films have had on prepping, despite often portraying more extreme prepper types (it’s just show business!), it’s my belief such productions have increased the ranks of preppers in the United States, thereby assisting public safety agencies across the United States in the event of a real disaster as preppers should be able to take care of themselves and a number of other individuals in many cases, freeing up limited resources to be applied elsewhere in the emergency response.

Thank you for doing this preppers!

And production companies and cable/satellite TV channels like the National Geographic Channel- go ahead and give yourselves a nice pat on the back as well.

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

Source:

Brady, Tara. “Fill the pool with fish and stockpile the guns: Up to THREE MILLION ‘Preppers’ in the U.S. are prepared for for the end of the world.” Daily Mail. 11 Feb. 2012. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099714/Meet-preppers-Up-3-MILLION-people-preparing-end-world-know-it.html). 20 Oct. 2013.

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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