Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

U.S. Small Plane Pilot Crashes into Austin IRS Building

In Other Terrorist Events on February 19, 2010 at 9:03 am

Terrorism in Austin, Texas:

A pilot furious with the Internal Revenue Service crashed his small plane into an Austin, Texas, office building where nearly 200 federal tax employees work on Thursday, igniting a raging fire that sent massive plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the seven-story structure.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the incident was a single act by a sole individual, who appeared to be targeting the federal building. He refused to classify it as terrorism.

“I call it a cowardly, criminal act and there was no excuse for it,” Acevedo said at a news conference.

The Department of Homeland Security said it did not believe the crash was an act of terrorism. President Obama was briefed on the incident. As a precaution, the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defense Command launched two F-16 aircraft from Houston’s Ellington Field, and was conducting an air patrol over the crash area.

The FBI identified the pliot as Joseph Stack, a 53-year-old software engineer. Stack was confirmed dead, but his body has not yet been recovered.

At least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted for and two people were hospitalized, thirteen others were treated and released said Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton.

Emergency crews found two bodies in the building late Thursday evening, but wouldn’t identify them.

Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul told reported the incident was, “not tied to overseas terror organizations.”

A U.S. law official said investigators were looking at a lengthy, anti-government “manifesto” Stack is believed to have written on his Web site. The message outlines problems with the IRS and says violence “is the only answer.” Read the rest of this entry »


The al Qaeda Tapes of Khandahar

In al Qaeda on February 13, 2010 at 9:18 am

Jihadis and members of al Qaeda are recorded on over 200 audio tapes, talking about attacks and making breakfast:

Jihad can sound boring at first.  That’s what Flagg Miller has discovered. For the past seven years, Mr. Miller, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of California at Davis, has been poring over hundreds of audio tapes that were part of Osama bin Laden’s personal collection. Some of the tapes feature jihadis making small talk, cooking breakfast, laughing at each other’s lame jokes—not exactly riveting material.  But listen closely and they start to get interesting.

In December 2001, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the tapes were acquired by CNN from a prominent family in Mr. bin Laden’s former neighborhood. CNN turned the tapes over to the FBI, which eventually deemed them of limited intelligence value. The FBI passed them along to the Afghan Media Project at Williams College. That’s when Mr. Miller’s phone rang.

It made sense to call him. Mr. Miller, a linguistic anthropologist, is fluent in Arabic and was working on his first book, The Moral Resonance of Arab Media: Audiocassette Poetry and Culture in Yemen. When the bin Laden tapes first arrived, they were dusty, poorly marked, and crammed haphazardly into cardboard boxes. Of the more than 1,500 tapes, 23 feature Osama bin Laden himself, while the rest are an odd assortment of sermons, lectures, and scripted melodramas. They were recorded at weddings, in mosques, and in the backs of taxi cabs.

For several years, Mr. Miller would fly to Massachusetts and spend days listening to as much as he could, transcribing, translating, trying to make sense of what he heard. During his first trip, he hardly slept, preferring headphones to his pillow.

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Ali Soufan: 9/11 Trial Should Be Civilian Trial

In 9/11 News on February 12, 2010 at 9:29 am

Keep it civilian:

Op-Ed Contributor
Tribunal and Error

SINCE Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York announced that he no longer favored trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind, in a Manhattan federal court because of logistical concerns, the Obama administration has come under increasing attack from those who claim that military commissions are more suitable for prosecuting terrorists. These critics are misguided.

As someone who has helped prosecute terrorists in both civilian and military courts — I was a witness for the government in two of the three military commissions convened so far — I think that civilian courts are often the more effective venue. In fact, the argument that our criminal justice system is more than able to handle terrorist cases was bolstered just last week by revelations that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called Christmas bomber, is cooperating with the authorities.

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VP Biden: Another 9/11 Style Attack Unlikely

In Post-9/11 Domestic Anti-Terrorism Efforts on February 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Probably the first major public official to go on record as saying this:

Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that terrorists continue to try to harm the United States, but another “massive” terrorist strike like the September 11, 2001, attacks is unlikely. “The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my opinion,” Biden said in an interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”  Instead, groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula “have decided to move in the direction of much more small-bore but devastatingly frightening attacks,” such as the failed bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, a Nigerian, has been accused of trying to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it prepared to land in Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day.

“I think there are going to be attempts,” Biden said, but he praised the successes of the U.S. security and intelligence apparatus in dealing with the threats.

New 9/11 Aerial Photos Released

In 9/11 News on February 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Images of 9/11 taken from a New York City Police helicopter to be displayed in upcoming 9/11 memorial museum:

NEW YORK – A trove of aerial photographs of the collapsing World Trade Center was widely released this week, offering a rare and chilling view from the heavens of the burning twin towers and the apocalyptic shroud of smoke and dust that settled over the city.  The images were taken from a police helicopter — the only photographers allowed in the airspace near the skyscrapers on Sept. 11, 2001. They were obtained by ABC after it filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal agency that investigated the collapse.

The chief curator of the planned Sept. 11 museum pronounced the pictures “a phenomenal body of work.”  The photos are “absolutely core to understanding the visual phenomena of what was happening,” said Jan Ramirez of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. They are “some of the most exceptional images in the world, I think, of this event.”

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