Mother Jones has found that not only does TSA approve searches of the trunks and interior of unattended cars in an undefined perimeter that’s considered dangerously close to the airport—like a car left with valet parking—but if a valet attendant finds illegal drugs instead of bombs, they will call the police. Privacy experts say these searches could be a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights.
“We search every car, we open the trunk and take a look around,” says Saour Merwan, a keymaster at the valet service at San Diego International Airport. “We were told by airport authority to do that, since about two years ago. [We] keep an eye out for something suspicious, like wires and cables. The airport has security regulations and we have to follow them.” Merwan says the service doesn’t inform anyone that they’re checking out the inside of the vehicles, and when asked what he’d do if he found illegal drugs, he says, “Of course we’d call the police.”
“This is exactly what the Fourth Amendment was designed to say the government can’t do, generally search everything without suspicion,” says Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. “At the same time, the Supreme Court has made an exception to searching items that you’ve voluntarily given to someone else—like a car. It’s a crazy argument, but that’s not bothered the courts before.”
What Dzhokhar Tsarnaev needed to learn to make explosives with a pressure cooker was at his fingertips in jihadist files on the Internet, according to a federal indictment accusing him of carrying out the bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured dozens more.
Investigators have been trying to determine whether Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed while the two were on the run after the bombings, was influenced or trained by Islamic militants during a trip overseas. But the indictment released Thursday against 19-year-old Dzhokhar makes no mention of any overseas influence.
Before the attack, according to the indictment, he downloaded the summer 2010 issue of Inspire, an online English-language magazine published by al-Qaida. The issue detailed how to make bombs from pressure cookers, explosive powder extracted from fireworks and lethal shrapnel.
He also downloaded extremist Muslim literature, including “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation After Imam,” which advocates “violence designed to terrorize the perceived enemies of Islam,” the indictment said. The article was written by the late Abdullah Azzam, whose legacy has inspired terrorist attacks in the Middle East.
Another tract downloaded — titled “The Slicing Sword, Against the One Who Forms Allegiances With the Disbelievers and Takes Them as Supporters Instead of Allah, His Messenger and the Believers” — included a foreword by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American propagandist for al-Qaida who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.
The 30-count indictment provides one of the most detailed public explanations to date of the brothers’ alleged motive — Islamic extremism — and the role the Internet may have played in influencing them.
Grant Acord will be charged as an adult and also faces 6 counts of manufacturing and possessing a destructive device
A US teenager who intended to blow up his school will be charged with attempted aggravated murder after six bombs were found in his bedroom, a prosecutor said late Saturday.
Grant Acord, 17, planned to attack his school in Oregon in a plot “forged and inspired” by a 1999 mass shooting at a high school in Columbine, Colorado, said Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson.
Acord will be charged as an adult and also faces six counts of manufacturing and possessing a destructive device after investigators found the six bombs in a secret compartment in his bedroom, Haroldson said.
Acord was taken to a juvenile jail Thursday night after police received a tip that the youth was making a bomb to blow up West Albany High School.
He said Acord had written plans, a checklists and a specific timeline for the attack. The investigators found pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails, a Drano bomb and a napalm bomb, Haroldson said.
Police found no bombs during a search of the high school.
Syria continues to fight its civil war. The other day I had a discussion with another frequent poster here. His assertion is that Syria has no WMD’, as the weapons they do have are not destructive enough. I did some digging and there is no official definition. However, if you look at the UN treaties and many statements from officials, Syria is said to have chemical weapons that the UN classifies as WMD. I saw this article, and found it instructive as to what Syria does have. What is keeping some at the Pentagon up all night? Sarin. VX. And the bombs, artillery shells and missiles to deliver. Perhaps one of the largest stockpiles anywhere.
Whatever you call these weapons; tens of thousands of people are at risk from them in Syria. If Assad gets desperate and angry enough there could be attacks like what Saddam did to the Kurds, except with even more advanced weapons.
(CNN) — With the strength of Bashar al-Assad’s forces diminishing in Syria’s civil war, global fears are mounting that Syria might unleash chemical weapons to quash the country’s uprising.
The government insists it would never use chemical weapons on its own people. But world leaders say Syria’s desperation could lead to even more tragedy in the war-torn country.
So what exactly are chemical weapons, and what could they do to the human body? A primer:
It sounds absurd, but a daily annoyance to millions of Russians did save lives.
A man whose plot to cause carnage on Moscow’s iconic Red Square was thwarted by a spam phone message that prematurely detonated a bomb was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in jail.
Ilyas Saidov, a member of an underground Islamist group, brought explosives-laden belts disguised as heaters for two female suicide bombers on a bus from his native Dagestan, a southern province in the Caucasus region plagued by almost daily clashes between Islamists and federal forces.
But just hours before they were to detonate the bombs on New Year’s Eve, 2010, a belt attached to a cellphone exploded after the detonator was activated by a spam message, killing one of the women and prompting the arrest of the other. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in May.
When a drone strike killed one of the leaders of al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen last year, U.S. intelligence officials thought they also had wiped out the terrorist group’s top bomb maker.
Soon it became apparent that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the brains behind sophisticated bombs that have been used in attempts to attack the U.S., was still alive. A hunted al-Asiri went underground, knowing the U.S. was after him, particularly after the U.S. killed Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the Yemen group’s top leaders.
But U.S. counterterrorism officials say he has resurfaced. They worry he might be at work doing what he does best: building bombs that could defeat airline security, The Associated Press has learned.
While the intelligence community sees no credible or specific threat related to the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, counterterrorism officials remain anxious about the Yemen group plotting attacks and aren’t taking any chances.
Israel has developed a new 500 pound (227 kg) penetrator bomb, the MPR-500. The MPR-500 can smash through more than a meter (39 inches) of concrete or four 200mm (8 inch) concrete barriers (floors or bunker walls) and then detonate. When the MPR-500 explodes it releases 26,000 fragments, which will wound or kill out to 100 meters.
While the MPR-500 is an unguided bomb it is most useful when mated with a guidance kit to become a smart bomb. The most common such kit is the American JDAM, which converts 500, 1,000 (455 kg) and 2,000 (910 kg) pound unguided bombs into highly accurate guided “smart bombs.”
Currently, most penetrator bombs are heavier (910 kg) and models like the BLU-109 can penetrate five meters (16 feet) of concrete. The heavier (5,000 pound) GBU-28 can penetrate 32 meters (100 feet) of earth or six meters (20 feet) of concrete. Israel already has hundreds of these larger penetrator bombs but apparently sees a need for smaller penetrators. More of the smaller bombs can be carried on each sortie. There are smaller penetrators as well.
Israel had watched (from the air and via spies on the ground) as the Iranian supported Hezbollah militia built underground bunkers in southern Lebanon over the last twelve years. Hezbollah built many of these bunkers into homes and schools. Others were dug into mountains. While there were a lot of targets that required the GBU-24 and 28, there were many more that could be destroyed with smaller bombs. For some of those Israel has bought thousands of 250 pound (114 kg) American Small Diameter Bombs (SDB), which can penetrate half a meter (20 inches) of rock or concrete and much more packed earth. With the addition of the locally made MPR-500 Israel has a penetrator for every buried target.
The father of the convicted would-be suicide bomber who planned to detonate explosives in New York City subways was sentenced Friday to four and half years in prison on charges that he obstructed a terrorism investigation and intentionally misled authorities.
A federal judge handed Mohammed Wali Zazi, the father of Najibullah Zazi, four years for obstruction of justice and six months on charges of visa fraud, prosecutors said.
He had faced the prospect of up to 40 years behind bars.
The elder Zazi was found guilty in July of destroying bomb-making materials and conspiring to obstruct the federal investigation into his son’s and co-conspirators’ planned attack on the city’s subway system.
Zazi’s then-attorney, Justine Harris, had argued that his client was unaware that his son was planning to blow up subway stations with bombs planted in backpacks. Najibullah
The Justice Department is funding an unusual national training program to help police deal with an increasing number of volatile confrontations involving highly trained and often heavily armed combat veterans.
Developers of the pilot program, to be launched at 15 U.S. sites this year, said there is an “urgent need” to de-escalate crises in which even SWAT teams may be facing tactical disadvantages against mentally ill suspects who also happen to be trained in modern warfare.
“We just can’t use the blazing-guns approach anymore when dealing with disturbed individuals who are highly trained in all kinds of tactical operations, including guerrilla warfare,” said Dennis Cusick, executive director of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute. “That goes beyond the experience of SWAT teams.”
Cusick, who is developing the program along with institute training director William Micklus, said local authorities have a better chance of defusing violent confrontations by immediately engaging suspects in discussions about their military experience — not with force.
The aim, Micklus said, is to try to reconnect them with “a sense of integrity” lost in the fog of emotional distress.
“You can’t win by trying to out-combat them,” Cusick said. “You emphasize what it means to be a Marine, a soldier to people who now feel out of control.”
There is no data that specifically tracks police confrontations with suspects currently or formerly associated with the military. But an Army report issued this year found that violent felonies in the service were up 1% while non-violent felonies increased 11% between 2010 and 2011.
During that time, however, crime in much of the nation declined.
“What we’re seeing is that the volume (of violent incidents involving military personnel off base) has ratcheted up to a level we have never seen before,” Cusick said.
In conversations with the woman, Dennis Mahon showed her how to make bombs and bragged about bombing a Jewish community center, an abortion clinic, an Internal Revenue Service building and an immigration facility. He also talked to the informant about the Scottsdale bombing, claiming he didn’t do it but that he assisted white police officers who did. His claims about the other bombings have not been corroborated, but likely have provided leads for federal investigators, according to various media accounts.
The Mahons are both charged with conspiracy to damage buildings and property by means of explosive. Dennis Mahon also is charged with malicious damage of a building by means of explosive and distribution of information related to explosives.
The investigation also snared Robert Joos Jr., an antigovernment zealot and pastor of a church of “apocalyptic Christians.” He is serving a 78-month federal prison sentence after being convicted in January 2010 in Springfield, Mo., of being a felon in possession of firearms and a felon in possession of explosives.
The Mahons also have past ties to Thomas Metzger and his white supremacist White Aryan Resistance (WAR). While his name surfaced in the Scottsdale bombing investigation, Metzger has not been charged criminally.
The undercover investigation began after a cardboard box was sent to the Scottsdale Office of Diversity and Dialogue, addressed to the office’s director, Donald Logan. When Logan opened the box on Feb. 26, 2004, it exploded, severely burning his arms and damaging his fingers. His assistant, Renita Linyard, was seriously injured, and another employee, Jacque Bell, suffered minor injuries.
While discussing the Scottsdale bombing, Dennis Mahon said he “just wanted to teach (Logan) a lesson the first time.”