By Katie Mulvaney
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE — A state teachers union executive charged with stalking a former state lawmaker by e-mail is challenging the admissibility of evidence seized from his home as well as any statements he made to investigators.
John A. Leidecker, an assistant executive director with the National Education Association of Rhode Island, argues evidence taken from his home or car are the fruit of an unlawful arrest that violated his rights to due process and to be free of unreasonable searches.
Bristol police charged Leidecker, 54, of 154 Friendly St., Cranston, in December with knowingly transmitting false information about former Democratic state Rep. Douglas W. Gablinske over the Internet. Authorities said he impersonated Gablinske, a union foe who called for pension reform, in e-mails that misstated his political positions.
Bristol police last month changed the charge to a misdemeanor count of cyberstalking. Under the law, it is alleged Leidecker willfully seriously alarmed or bothered Gablinske for no legitimate purpose. The law states that his conduct must “be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury.”
Bristol police dropped the false information charge. They referred questions to solicitor Jeanne M. Scott, who did not return two phone calls placed to her office this week.
Leidecker has pleaded not guilty to cyberstalking and was ordered not to contact Gablinske. His motion to suppress evidence is set to be heard April 27 in District Court.
State and Bristol police executed search warrants on Leidecker’s home and Cranston office Nov. 30. An affidavit for the warrant signed by Judge Elaine T. Bucci said Gablinske told Bristol police Sept. 24 that someone had posed as him in e-mails. The first e-mail, sent on Sept. 10, four days before he was defeated in the Democratic primary, appeared to be from a supposed constituent asking about his position on toll legislation.
On Sept. 14, Gablinske received an e-mail titled “Confusion?” followed by the message “Hee, hee, hee! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!” that came from the address email@example.com.
A day later the constituent contacted him about his response that he supported a $5-per-axle toll. Gablinske told the police he had never sent a response nor had he supported a toll. On Sept. 20, the constituent questioned Gablinske’s conflicting responses. He forwarded a message from douggablinski that read “Dear Walter, I realize that increasing the tolls on the Mount Hope Bridge may have a negative impact on you, but I am a STATE representative, Do you understand? STATE representative, not just the representative of the Mount Hope Bridge. I was elected to think about the bridges in Central Falls, too. Besides, you shouldn’t be using the bridge more than twice a day. You’r wasting bridge.” Gablinske tried to e-mail the constituent about the false information. Authorities said they traced the computer addresses used to Leidecker’s home and office.
Leidecker argues any statements he made violated his privilege against self-incrimination. Any consent Leidecker gave, Mann wrote, was not voluntary. The affidavits supporting the search warrant, he said, do not even reference cyberstalking.
John Leidecker, a lawyer with NEARI, denied portrayals in the media that he contacted the two-term Democrat’s constituents.
“What’s been alleged out there … is just so grossly wrong,” Leidecker said, adding, “He was blaming me for the loss; the bottom line is I did not have contact with his constituents…. Maybe he didn’t do a good job representing his district.”
Gablinske, who ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign after the primary loss, stood by his characterization of the case as political “thuggery” by the state teachers union. “I have no idea how widespread the distribution of those e-mails were,” said Gablinske, a real estate appraiser. “The NEA was certainly in my race lock, stock and barrel,” he said. “They were committed to taking me out.”
He said he might consider a run in 2012 or 2014.
With states across the country finding that benefits for public workers are becoming nearly impossible to fund in the current economic climate, support for public employee unions has fallen.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 45% of Americans now at least somewhat favor unions for public employees, while the identical number 45% are opposed to them. These findings include 21% who Strongly Favor such unions versus 30% who are Strongly Opposed to them. To see survey question wording, click here.In May of last year, 53% of Adults favored unions for public employees, while 37% opposed them.By comparison, 51% now at least somewhat favor unions for private sector workers, with just 39% opposed.
NEARI worker accused of impersonating state rep
Updated: Wednesday, 01 Dec 2010, 6:12 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 01 Dec 2010, 6:11 PM EST
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Court documents obtained by the Target 12 Investigators shed new light on the arrest of an official for the National Education Association of Rhode Island.
NEARI assistant executive director John Leidecker pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of creating a fake email account to impersonate outgoing State Representative Doug Gablinske.
He was arrested after Bristol and Rhode Island State Police raided both his home and office.
Search warrants obtained Wednesday by Target 12 reveal the contents of the some of the emails Leidecker is accused of writing while police say he was posing as Rep. Gablinske.
One email references Gablinske’s opposition to tolls on the Mount Hope Bridge:
I realize that increasing the tolls on the Mount Hope Bridge may have a negative impact on you, but I’m a STATE representative, Do you understand? STATE representative, not just the representative of the Mount Hope Bridge. I was elected to think about the bridges of Central Falls, too.”
Another, sent days after Gablinske lost in the September primary, makes reference to leaf bags the representative gave out during the campaign season, according to police:
“Walter, Do you want to buy some trash bags? I’ve got $9,000 worth in my garage. Dougie.”
Court documents also show that police contacted Google to figure out who was sending the phony emails. Gmail says the subscriber created the account using John Leidecker’s union email address as a back-up.
The account in question was created on September 10th, four days prior to Gablinske’s primary loss at the polls.
It is still unclear how many emails were sent from the phony email account.
The search warrant also shows that police removed 23 computer items from Leidecker’s home and NEARI headquarters, both in Cranston.
The equipment is being analyzed by Rhode Island State Police.
So HYPOTHETICALLY if I were to set up an email account pretending to be Bob Walsh or Leidecker it would be a poor prank, right? So if I sent an emailing pretending to be either of you saying, “I realize that the 26th ranked public education system we have in Rhode Island may have an impact on you, your children, and our future, but I’m an executive at the TEACHER’S union. Do you understand? TEACHER’S union, not just the representative of local children,” it would just be a practical joke?
Ok. Just as long as Bob Walsh and I have an understanding as to what is despicable political tampering and what is a prank.
IF ONLY this were a historically conservative group carrying out the misdeeds that are alleged of NEARI, man! Heads would roll and the Providence Journal and “RI Future” would be the Ronaldos driving those heads down the field.
Police sift records for more leads in impersonation case
BRISTOL — As police comb through computer records in preparation for their case against an assistant executive director of the state’s teachers’ union accused of impersonating a state representative in e-mails, they’re keeping an eye peeled for anyone else who might have been involved.
Although the Bristol Police Department and the State Police Computers Crime Unit brought a misdemeanor charge against John Leidecker, 54, of Cranston for use of false information on Tuesday, Nov. 30, the case is still under investigation, according to Bristol Police Lt. Steven Contente. More charges could be coming for Mr. Leidecker, and if involvement from any others turns up as police delve into records on computers seized from Mr. Leidecker’s residence in Cranston and from the National Educators Association-Rhode Island’s (NEARI) headquarters in Cranston, they will be charged as well.
Mr. Leidecker allegedly opened a Google e-mail account and posed in e-mails as state Rep. Doug Gablinske (D-Bristol, Warren), misrepresenting his stance on local issues prior to the September primary election, which Mr. Gablinske lost to his Democratic opponent. (Read the full story on the NEARI staffer arrest here, along with the e-mails turned into police.)
Lt. Contente said “it’s unforeseen right now” whether any further charges will be brought against Mr. Leidecker, who received a law degree from Roger Williams University in 1997 and who is involved in negotiations of the Bristol-Warren teachers’ contract, which expires next August.
“We are at the forensics stage of the case right now,” Lt. Contente said. The State Police is providing technical expertise and use of the computer crimes lab to Bristol police to investigate the seized records.
Since the faked e-mail account was accessed by a computer at the NEARI office, police seized those records and will be looking for involvement in the crime by others.
“There are individuals we are going to be looking for” in the records, Lt. Contente said. “We’re not going to take a blind eye if he didn’t do this alone. If he sent these e-mails with somebody else, we’re keeping our options open … The option is still open to apply for additional search warrants to seize (more) records.”
Mr. Leidecker pleaded not guilty of the charge on Nov. 30 at Kent County Superior Court. A pre-trial is set for Jan. 10.
Hate letters, too
During the same period that an impersonator was putting out false information on Mr. Gablinske’s political talking points, anonymous hate letters were sent to Mr. Gablinske and a vocal campaign supporter.
The letters were threatening in nature. One was even sent to Mrs. Gablinske. Mr. Gablinske and his campaign supporter continued receiving the threatening letters — one of those sent to the campaign supporter included a photo of his residence — after the election.
Both of them filed reports with the police. While the case is still under investigation, Lt. Contente said he would not comment on whether these are linked to the impersonator’s case.
Last Friday, another Bristol man filed a report that he had received anonymous letters. Lt. Contente said police have not yet concluded if they are of the same type sent to the others.
After the arrest of Mr. Leidecker, the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC) called for the removal of NEARI Executive Director Bob Walsh from Governor-elect Linc Chafee’s transition team. RISC endorsed Mr. Gablinske’s re-election, and the campaign supporter of Mr. Gablinske’s who received the hate mail is a member of RISC.
“NEARI Executive Director Robert Walsh should be immediately asked to step down from the Transition Team of incoming Governor Chafee in light of the State Police arrest and investigation of a top NEARI official this week,” RISC wrote in a press release. “Governor-elect Chafee consistently cited public corruption in Rhode Island as a primary problem for moving the state forward during his campaign. The nature of this week’s arrest, involving alleged illegal campaign activity by the statewide teaches’ union, warrants the incoming governor immediately remove NEARI leadership from the transition team until the full scope of the statewide teachers’ union involvement in the alleged activities is learned.”
A call to the governor-elect’s transition office was returned on Thursday. Governor-elect Chafee issued this statement: “Robert A. Walsh, Jr. is a valued member of my Transition Advisory Committee. He represents an important perspective on critical issues that the State of Rhode Island is currently confronting. My transition team includes a wide range of members with experience in labor, business, education, social services and government. I value each individual’s contribution. I look forward to continuing to work with Mr. Walsh when he returns from medical leave.”
School administration asked for action on local teachers’ union
As police investigate a top official in the state teachers’ union, Doug Gablinske wants to know what the Bristol-Warren school district has done about local teachers’ union practices he questioned in September.
In the lead-up to the September primary, Rep. Gablinske took issue with what he says were two alleged improprieties by the local teachers’ union, the Bristol Warren Educators Association (BWEA).
In one of those, Mr. Gablinske claims that during a day-long teachers’ orientation on Aug. 30 at Mt. Hope High School, National Educators Association-Rhode Island (NEARI) employee and lobbyist Pat Crowley was allowed to stump for his opponent, Richard Morrison, in front of the teachers.
Superintendent Melinda Thies said in an interview this week that the teachers’ contract allows one hour during orientation to “discuss contract and union issues.” But she acknowledged that the language in the contract is “very broad.” She says she is not told beforehand what will be discussed during that hour, and does not know what was said on Aug. 30.
In fact, all the contract says is that a BWEA representative must be given an hour of time during orientation. The section references orientation day as a time to orient members to the school system and the teachers’ contract.
Mr. Gablinske says his reading of the same section spells out specifically what may be done during orientation — and it’s not political stumping on the taxpayers’ dime.
“I am disappointed that the school administration and school committee have done virtually nothing to investigate this allegation and have basically determined that it is perfectly OK for the BWEA to be paid by the taxpayers,” Mr. Gablinske said. “Pat Crowley of the NEARI was at that meeting talking politics, and the administration and the school committee should be questioning some of the hundreds of teachers that were at the meeting about if he was there, who he was with and what he talked about.”
Ms. Thies said Mr. Gablinske never filed a formal complaint. Until then, the school department will not investigate. However, while the teachers’ contract is under negotiation this year, she said the language about what goes on during orientation day will be looked at. “The language in the contract is open-ended, and we perhaps should refine that.”
Mr. Gablinske also claimed the BWEA president’s use of the district’s official e-mail system to send e-mails to fellow teachers asking for their support in a get-out-the-vote drive before the primary in support of Mr. Gablinske’s challenger was an illegal use of school resources.
Ms. Thies agreed. “It was inappropriate, and we have addressed that internally.” She said it will not be allowed to happen again.
I thought for the “future” of “Rhode Island” we were looking for “progress.” Sure seems to be that oppressive political scheming while throwing out cutesy liberal catch phrases rules the day. The problem with some local “progressives” in this state is that they are subscribers to disingenuous political ploys and lopsided anger. It is often played out in a manner in which the Right, conservatives, are made out to be these brutish and intimidating figures holding down the little guy. It is all too convenient to demonize the conservative boogieman or practically anyone who has an ideological objection to the progressive platform. Often, some “progressives” regress to one of the most innate human emotions, anger, and use that vitriol to launch an internet, telephonic, and written illogical assaults on ideologically opposed persons and groups. Is this really “progress?” Is the sort of “progress” we want for “Rhode Island’s Future?”
I would hope, truly for the sake of Rhode Island’s future, that logic and shared interests will finally prevail. Union, nonunion, liberal, conservative; the fact of the matter is the truth of ‘we are all in this together’ rings even more resoundingly in the tiny state of Rhode Island. For Rhode Island to truly progress, as all desire, we need to work together, not stem opposition, to formulate tangible changes for a state that yearns for genuine productive answers.
Sources: Al Qaeda eyes more Mumbai-style attacksBy Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank, CNNSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
- German sources reveal extent of al Qaeda’s plan for Mumbai attack in Europe
- Sources in Germany and U.S. concerned about a similar possible plot on U.S.
- Osama bin Laden signed off on the Europe plot, U.S. counter-terror officials say
- German mosque used by 9/11 lead hijacker was apparently center for recruiting radicals
Hamburg, Germany (CNN) — Al Qaeda is still planning Mumbai-style attacks in Europe, with the United States also possibly being targeted, counter-terrorism officials in Europe and the United States tell CNN.
The discovery of al Qaeda’s plans to launch coordinated attacks in several cities in Britain, Germany, and France led to the U.S. issuing an unprecedented travel advisory in October for its citizens traveling in Europe.
European counter-terrorism officials tell CNN they believe the aim was to carry out the attacks before the end of this year. The expected timeframe of the plot had not previously been disclosed.
In November 2008 gunmen belonging to Lashkar e Taiba, a Pakistani Jihadist group affiliated with al Qaeda, went on a shooting rampage against several targets in Mumbai, including its most prestigious hotel, the main railway station and a Jewish center, killing more than 160 people.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Dr. August Hanning, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, said intelligence indicated that al Qaeda had already started planning to launch Mumbai-style attacks in the United States.
“We have got information that they have planned or are planning a plot like the Mumbai plot in Europe and the United States,” said Hanning who retired late last year as State Secretary in Germany’s Interior Ministry, one of the country’s most senior counter-terrorism positions.
The revelation is the most concrete indication yet that al Qaeda is planning mass casualty gun attacks on U.S. soil.
A senior U.S. counter-terrorism official told CNN that U.S. intelligence agencies have for some time been concerned that al Qaeda would attempt to replicate aspects of the 2008 Mumbai attack on US soil. “The assumption has been that they would make plans to do this and the potential threat is being treated very seriously,” the official told CNN.
The capture of Ahmed Sidiqi, a militant from the German port city of Hamburg, in Afghanistan in July, helped Western intelligence uncover the conspiracy, according to European and U.S. counter-terrorism officials. Sidiqi is currently being held in American custody at Bagram air force base in Afghanistan.
Information came from “different sources … and this is one of the sources,” Hanning told CNN. His statement was echoed by a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.
Western intelligence agencies also learned that Ilyas Kashmiri, a senior al Qaeda operative, had a planning role in the plot. According to U.S. counter-terrorism officials, Osama bin Laden himself signed off on the plot.
Kashmiri, a veteran jihadist who made his name fighting Indian troops in the Kashmir conflict, has in the last year emerged as a key planner of al Qaeda operations against the West, according to Western officials and court documents.
Last month Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper citing intelligence sources reported that Kashmiri met with Sidiqi in Pakistan’s tribal areas and boasted that he had already dispatched terrorist teams to Britain and Germany to launch Mumbai-style attacks.
“[Kashmiri] knows our situation in Germany and therefore he is dangerous,” Hanning told CNN.
German authorities may have particular cause for concern. German authorities are investigating the alleged involvement of several militants from Hamburg, including Bagram detainee Sidiqi, in the al Qaeda plot against Europe.
Sidiqi and 10 other militants from Hamburg set off for the tribal areas of Pakistan in March 2009, according to German intelligence officials. “When they left Hamburg they [had] decided to join the jihad in Afghanistan or Pakistan but then they came into contact to certain groups then after this they developed the plan … not to stay there and fight there but to go back and commit some crimes in Germany in Europe,” Dr. Manfred Murck, Hamburg’s Intelligence chief told CNN in an exclusive interview.
According to European counter-terrorism officials, Sidiqi revealed that four other members of his group were part of al Qaeda’s plans to attack Europe. Several of them met with Younes al Mauritani, a senior al Qaeda operative who tasked some of them to return to Europe to prepare the attack, according to the officials.
“The general assumption would be that Sidiqi and some others planned to come back to Germany and might develop terrorist attacks in the long term,” Murck told CNN, “this is the general assumption that we do have, but it’s not concrete, we don’t think they had a concrete plan.”
Murck said Hamburg’s intelligence agency has found it difficult to untangle how the Hamburg group fitted into Al Qaeda’s plans because they have had no direct access to him in Afghanistan. “As far as we can see we don’t have the evidence that [theirs] was a terrorist attack in the Mumbai style,” Murck stated.
In early October two members of the Hamburg group — Naamen Meziche and Shahab Dashti — were reported killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, one of Pakistan’s tribal territories. According to European intelligence officials the group’s travel coordinator — Asadullah Muslih — is still believed at large somewhere in Pakistan. Murck said his intelligence agency has evidence that Dashti was killed but has not been able to verify the reported death of Meziche.
Rami Makanesi — another member of the Hamburg travel group allegedly implicated by Sidiqi — is currently in custody in southern Germany. He is being investigated for membership of a terrorist group but has not been formally charged by German authorities. “He wanted to go to the German embassy or consulate [in Islamabad] and then he was picked up,” Murck told CNN.
Murck hinted that some of the Hamburg group may have wanted to return to Europe because they were fed up with conditions in the al Qaeda camps in Pakistan.
“It’s not the nice romantic jihad they were thinking about,” he said.
According to German intelligence officials, the Hamburg group were recruited by Meziche, the group’s ringleader in the Taiba mosque in Hamburg , a mosque — previously called Al Quds — attended by 9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta in the late 1990s. In August this year Hamburg authorities closed down the Taiba mosque because of its ties to extremists.
Murck told CNN that 15 foreign radical extremists were deported from Germany based on information authorities collected at the Taiba mosque. But over time he said, more and more clusters of radical extremists formed in the mosque.
“If there is one place, from Denmark even to the United States, where people know if you want to be a brother in the name of Allah and have an idea to be a member of jihad then go to al Quds mosque in Hamburg. It was that famous, and this was one of the reasons that we decided to close it.”
Hamburg authorities had to fight a tough legal battle to close the mosque. “We have a Constitution and churches, mosques are protected by our Constitution and it’s very difficult for German authorities to forbid praying in such kinds of mosques,” August Hanning told CNN.
Hamburg intelligence officials stress that Hamburg is not unique among European cities grappling with the problem of violent Islamist extremism.
“We count about 40 persons at the moment … who justify violence and find it’s right that there is an international jihad … and that terrorism might be right, and there might be a 100 more that are in close contact to them,” Murck told CNN.
“Taken altogether we don’t have a real chance to look at each of those 40 or 140, 24 hours a day, every week so what we have to do is to look at the [radical] scene, to have some human sources within that scene.”
Radicalization is on the rise in Germany according to German counter-terrorism officials with hotspots emerging in such cities as Berlin, Bonn, Ulm, Frankfurt, Cologne and Hamburg, fueled by radicals’ exploitation of online social media sites.
According to Hanning, around 100 to 200 hard cores supporters of al Qaeda in Germany currently pose the greatest concern.
The trajectory that has most worried German counter-terrorism officials is Germans who have gone overseas for terrorism training and returned.
“Our estimate is 220 people who have left Germany for training purposes in Pakistan, being trained in terrorist techniques and nearly half of them have come back to Germany and that has been the real threat for us. … We know that they still have contact with these dangerous groups in Pakistan,” Hanning told CNN.
Murck, Hamburg’s Intelligence Chief, says the city’s intelligence agencies are determined to do everything they can to prevent a terrorist attack on the city. “We just have to live with the possibility it might happen and with our responsibility to hinder it.”
Who among us has not wanted to open their window and shout that at the top of their lungs?
Because we’re looking for those people. We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.
Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.
Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila. Join us in the shadow of the Washington Monument. And bring your indoor voice. Or don’t. If you’d rather stay home, go to work, or drive your kids to soccer practice… Actually, please come anyway. Ask the sitter if she can stay a few extra hours, just this once. We’ll make it worth your while.
Watch Jon’s call-to-reasonableness on The Daily Show. Keep checking back for updates and rally information.
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 22, 2010; 10:50 PM
Though al Qaeda has primarily focused on large-scale coordinated attacks since the tragic events of Sept. 11, including the attempted downing of several commercial airliners, the terrorist organization and its allies are increasingly likely to attempt small-scale attacks in the U.S., senior Obama administration officials said Wednesday. These less intricate attacks—like the plot against New York’s subway system and the failed car bombing in Times Square—are harder to detect. The threat has increased with the rise of al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and with the higher number of American terrorists inspired by terrorist ideology. “The spike in homegrown violent extremist activity during the past year is indicative of a common cause that rallies independent extremists to want to attack the homeland,” said Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The anti-U.S. narrative has become more accessible in recent years, primarily through the Internet, and these “homegrown extremists are increasingly more savvy, harder to detect and able to connect with other extremists overseas,” according to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.
Full article available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/22/AR2010092203807.html
“The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to the freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak.” -Aldai Stephenson
The terrorist threat faced by the U.S. nine years after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington is far more difficult to detect but less likely to produce mass-casualty attacks, according to the former leaders of the 9/11 Commission.
A report from a group led by the former commissioners, to be released Friday, finds terrorism is increasingly taking on an American cast, reflected in the growth of homegrown threats and the movement of terrorists recruited from the U.S. to areas like the horn of Africa and Yemen.
The report concludes some of the most-feared types of attacks are now unlikely, such as those using nuclear or biological weapons, or attacks on malls and shopping centers in less-populated cities. Despite al Qaeda’s long-running interest in mass-casualty weapons, it hasn’t shown the capacity to mount attacks with them, the report says.
The U.S. government is ill-equipped to counter the newest version of the terrorist threat, the report concludes, adding that “American overreactions,” particularly on Capitol Hill and in the media, even to unsuccessful attacks, have arguably played into terrorists’ hands and fuel anti-American sentiment.
“It’s a much more complex and a much more diverse threat than it was” in 2001, said former 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton in an interview. “We lag behind still in developing responses to this threat.”
No agency in the U.S. government, for example, is charged with monitoring and stopping the radicalization and recruitment of Americans to terrorist ranks, he said.
“The White House is addressing this challenge through a process that attempts to leverage all the tools the government has to offer,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor.
The report was written by terrorism analysts Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman for the national security group of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank. The security group is led by former 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Mr. Hamilton.
The study tracks with recent assessments from the director of national intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency highlighting the increasing reliance of al Qaeda and affiliates on people who can easily and legally enter and travel in the U.S. to plot and mount attacks.
Officials at intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security zeroed in on the homegrown threat following a series of attacks and botched plots, including the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings and the attempted Times Square bombing.
Last year, there were 10 U.S.-linked jihadi attacks, plots or incidents involving individuals traveling outside the country to receive terrorist training, the report found. Meanwhile, at least 43 American citizens or legal residents aligned with militant groups were charged or convicted in terrorism cases in the U.S. and elsewhere in 2009.
Al Qaeda and its allies have established “an embryonic terrorist recruitment, radicalization and operational infrastructure” in the U.S., the report concludes.
The report also identifies more and less likely targets and means of attack. More likely targets include commercial aviation, Western brand names like American hotel chains, Jewish targets and U.S. soldiers fighting in Muslim countries. Potential tactics include suicide operations, attacks by gunmen in the model of the 2008 assault on Mumbai, India, and assassinations of key leaders.
The group hopes its findings will encourage the U.S. government to focus more of its limited resources on the most likely attack scenarios. “It’s very hard to get the government to establish priorities,” Mr. Hamilton said.
As public attention in recent years has turned to the global economic crisis, the report says, attempted terror attacks have climbed. “The polls say Americans are turning their attention away from the terrorist threat,” Mr. Hamilton said. “This report says they better not.”
Write to Siobhan Gorman at firstname.lastname@example.org
The continued hatred and condemnation of Islam
Plays right into Muslim extremist agenda
It has been nearly two decades since bin Laden rose to infamy in the Middle East and African horn.
Bin Laden’s efforts to spread fundamentalist Islam and obliterate Western influence have only grown since then.
It has been nearly a decade since bin Laden’s “master plan” came to fruition in New York City.
A significant cornerstone of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda agenda is to show the entire Muslim world, billions of people and growing, that the United States is not just an enemy of fundamentalist Islam, but Islam itself as a religion.
Bin Laden might as well be enjoying a non-alcoholic margarita by the beach right now and sharing some laughs with some bomb buddies. Bin Laden, the Taliban, and their perverse fundamentalist brethren, are giggling like excited teeny-boppers at a Bieber concert.
Life is good for the Taliban and bin Laden. We’re making life quite easy for bin Laden. We’re doing the work for him.
Instead of advancing what America should champion (tolerance and reason), there are innumerable people set on condemning Islam in its entirety. This is what bin Laden has been so desperately trying to prove to galvanize Islam for decades: America does not just hate us (al-Qaeda/extremists) they hate ALL OF “US.”
We are rallying bin Laden and the Taliban with our disrespect for American values. Our blind denunciation of Islam serves to further bin Laden’s persistent efforts to paint our “war on terror” as a “war on Islam.”