Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.
The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.
In the aftermath of a terrorist atrocity, government officials often seem to talk about surveillance as if it were some sort of panacea, a silver bullet. But what they always fail to explain is how, even with mass surveillance systems already in place in countries like France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, attacks still happen. In reality, it is only possible to watch some of the people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time. Even if you had every single person in the world under constant electronic surveillance, you would still need a human being to analyze the data and assess any threats in a timely fashion. And human resources are limited and fallible.
There is no doubt that we live in a dangerous world and that intelligence agencies and the police have a difficult job to do, particularly in the current geopolitical environment. They know about hundreds or thousands of individuals who sympathize with terrorist groups, any one of whom may be plotting an attack, yet they do not appear to have the means to monitor each of these people closely over sustained periods of time. If any lesson can be learned from studying the perpetrators of recent attacks, it is that there needs to be a greater investment in conducting targeted surveillance of known terror suspects and a move away from the constant knee-jerk expansion of dragnet surveillance, which has simply not proven itself to be effective, regardless of the debate about whether it is legal or ethical in the first place.
- France Already Expanded Surveillance Twice In The Past Year — Perhaps Expanding It Again Is Not The Answer?
- Paris attacks should be ‘wake up call’ for more digital surveillance, CIA director says
- After Paris attacks, UK politicians suggest fast-tracking new surveillance laws
- From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities
- France ‘runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods’
- NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
- Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)
‘[…] Tsarnaev’s online activity had raised the alarm of the Russian FSB as far back as 2010, after the intelligence agency allegedly came across social networking contacts between Tsarnaev and William Plotnikov, a Russian-Canadian believed to have ties to Chechen militant groups.
In March 2011, the FSB sent a letter to the FBI alleging that Tsarnaev had become “radicalized” and that he might potentially seek to join militant organizations in the future. The FBI subsequently conducted several interviews with both Tsarnaev and his parents, determining afterwards that there were no grounds for allegations that he had been in involved with terrorist groups.
Warnings by the FSB about alleged Chechen radicals in the United States are generally viewed with skepticism by the FBI as they are frequently unsubstantiated. Nonetheless, these 2011 interviews with Tsarnaev and his family would later raise questions about the nature of the FBI’s relationship with him before the bombing, even prompting Republican Senator Chuck Grassley to issue an open letter to FBI Director James Comey asking whether Tsarnaev had been the target of a sting operation, or if had been employed as an informant by the bureau.
In a response, Comey denied the bureau had employed Tsarnaev, while declining to elaborate further on any contacts they may have had with him.’
- Tsarnaev Defense Cites Brother as Extremist Influence, Calls for “Unrelenting Punishment” of Life Sentence
- FBI Admits It Missed Opportunities to Stop Tamerlan Tsarnaev
- FBI pushed elder Tsarnaev to be informer, lawyers assert
- How the FBI in Boston May Have Pursued the Wrong “Terrorist”
- Did FBI Focus on Controversial Stings Distract from Pursuit of Tsarnaev Before Boston Attacks?
- Russia warned Boston bomber’s brother was budding terrorist
- Senator Chuck Grassley’s letter to FBI regarding marathon bombing
‘[…] The trial will now move into a sentencing phase where the jury decides whether Tsarnaev should be executed for his role in the biggest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
Now just imagine a similar process, had a jury called out Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s guilt in the murder of each of 2,976 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Anna Williams Allison; David Lawrence Angell; Lynn Edwards Angell,” the indictment filed against KSM and four others in New York in 2009 started its list of the 2,976 people KSM murdered. “Olga Kristin Gould White,” the long list ended. “Guilty,” a jury would surely have found KSM and his co-conspirators, of the mass murder he has always admitted. Guilty, 2,976 times, plus the larger conspiracy to attack the U.S.
Of course, that never happened. Under pressure from Congress and New York politicians, the administration gave up its efforts to try the 9/11 attackers in civilian court in 2011, moving their trial back to the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay just over four years ago.
And in those four years, the trial against the perpetrators of that massive attack, committed more than 13 years ago, has gone nowhere.’
‘In response to the horrific events in Paris, a columnist for the Boston Globe, Kevin Cullen, wrote a column drawing a parallel between that monstrous attack and the different but no less abominable violence unleashed in his own city on April 15, 2013.
By now, many of us have seen the chilling video in which a gunman executes a wounded French police officer lying on the sidewalk, his arms raised in helpless surrender.
The Tsarnaev brothers stand accused of doing essentially the same, sneaking up and shooting a helpless MIT police officer named Sean Collier as he sat in his idling cruiser on the Cambridge campus as the manhunt for the Tsarnaevs gathered pace. The killers wanted Collier’s gun but were too stupid to figure out how to unbuckle his holster.
He’s right about the parallel, but not necessarily about the lessons to be drawn. While there’s little doubt that the French suspects committed the multiple murders in Paris, the same cannot be said at this time about the Tsarnaevs and the killing of Sean Collier. There are real questions about both the identity of the MIT executioners and the purpose of their act. Among the questions: why would the Tsarnaevs have been on that empty campus and have known that a police car was parked between buildings off the street? We’ve examined those issues at great length here.’
- Paris Terrorist was Radicalized by Bush’s Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Torture
- Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech—It Was About War
- Blowback: Paris Terror Suspect Radicalized by Outrage Over American Torture and Invasion of Iraq
- Blowback: Paris Terror Suspects Recently Returned from Syria and Demonstrated Military Training
- Paris attack gunmen had combat experience, possibly linked to former French intel asset
- Obama Has Killed More People With Drones Than Died On 9/11
- Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris
- How France became Syria’s enemy No. 1
- Blowback in Paris
- From Syria to Paris
- It’s the Occupation, Stupid
- The Redirection
Editor’s Note: Scott Horton recently interviewed the author of this piece. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.
‘In a stunning reversal, federal prosecutors claim in an October 2014 court filing that they have “no evidence” to suggest Tamerlan Tsarnaev “participated in” a triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts in 2011. Officials had previously leaked to the press assertions precisely contrary to the new declaration. The federal government’s new claim comes in response to motions filed by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys seeking information from the government about Tamerlan’s participation in the murders. Documents confirming Tamerlan’s involvement in the 2011 murders would help the defense show that the elder Tsarnaev intimidated his younger brother.
By claiming to possess “no evidence” that Tamerlan was involved in the slayings, the DOJ might very well succeed in its goal to keep secret records related to the Waltham investigation and sought by the defense. But the reversal also comes at a cost: the federal government’s credibility. The back and forth—first Tamerlan did it, now he didn’t—raises troubling questions about the accuracy of official leaks pertaining to not just the murders, but also the circumstances surrounding the death of a Chechen immigrant at the FBI’s hands in May 2013. It also shines a spotlight on the media’s now common practice of granting federal officials anonymity to discuss important events, and shows how that practice enables the propagation of unreliable information meant to shape narratives favorable to the government. Those narratives, while perhaps helpful to federal agencies, are not always accurate.’
- FBI War on Marathon Bombing Witnesses Continues
- Sociopathic Ex-Oakland Cop Killed Ibragim Todashev
- Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Leaks and the Tsarnaev trial: blind justice?
- The Unexplained FBI Assassination of Ibragim Todashev
- Government reports on Todashev killing raise more questions than provide answers
- Read Ibragim Todashev’s Last Confession Before Being Killed by the FBI
- ‘Mounting Evidence’ Boston Bombers Involved in 2011 Triple Murder (Original Leak)
- Judge: At Least 1,000 Potential Jurors To Be Summoned In Tsarnaev Case
- It’s too late for Robel Phillipos, but it isn’t too late to learn from his mistake
- Joint Terrorism Task Forces
‘Since the Boston Marathon bombing a year and a half ago, the FBI appears to be intimidating, harassing, and silencing friends and acquaintances of the Tsarnaev brothers. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers have noticed it too—they’re having trouble getting anyone to talk to them, recent court papers reveal.
In what WhoWhatWhy previously described as the FBI’s “war on witnesses”, the Bureau seems to be employing a scorched earth strategy of destroying anything that might be of use to the “enemy.”’
- FBI War on Boston Witnesses
- The Murders Before the Marathon
- Todashev’s Killer: No Wonder His Identity Was Secret
- Rachel Maddow ‘stupefied’ media doesn’t care FBI executed key witness
- Tsarnaev friend says federal agents unfairly detained him
- Islamic Name? US Banks May Not Want Your Business
- FBI Hanky-Panky on Guantanamo—Part of Larger 9/11 Mystery?
- Bribery, Intimidation Reported Among Duties of Mafia Lawyers
- FBI agent cleared in killing of Boston suspect’s friend had controversial past
- Lawyers For Accused Boston Marathon Bomber Saying FBI Violated Their Client’s Rights (Video)
- The Boston Marathon Bombing Shows Why Surveillance State Doesn’t Work: Interview with the ACLU’s Kade Crockford
- Analysis of the FBI’s Failure to Stop the Boston Marathon Bombings
- New Cover-up in Boston Bombing Saga—Blaming Moscow
- Russia: Boston bombing report is effort to ‘whitewash’ US intelligence failures
- Tsarnaev defense: Sources say the FBI approached Tamerlan to become an informant
- Did FBI pressure push Boston bomber over the edge?
Cook County prosecutors raised the specter of the Boston Marathon bombings in asking for hefty sentences for three alleged anarchists convicted of making crude Molotov cocktails in the lead-up to the 2012 NATO summit, but a judge ended up imposing more modest prison terms Friday that could result in their release in less than two years.
Judge Thaddeus Wilson took the middle ground, sentencing the so-called NATO 3 to between 5 and 8 years in prison, well below the 14 years sought by prosecutors but more than the time served wanted by the defense. Wilson perhaps best explained his rationale by saying that the out-of-town men hadn’t been as cunning as the Three Musketeers as portrayed by prosecutors or as bungling as the Three Stooges as the defense contended.
The three-week trial of Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly marked the first test in Cook County of a state terrorism law enacted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. In a blow for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, a jury in February acquitted all three of the more serious terrorism charges but convicted them of felony counts of possessing an incendiary device and misdemeanor mob action.
Florida state prosecutors on Friday denied that they had cleared an FBI agent who shot dead a friend of the Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev while interrogating him. The FBI is understood to have concluded that the officer who shot Ibragim Todashev, 27, was left with no alternative but to fire in self defence after being struck on the neck with a metal pole.
But the state attorney in Florida, Jeff Ashton, denied that he had come to the same conclusion. Ashton’s spokesman said he had completed his investigation but would make a final decision on how to proceed over the weekend. A review, by the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, is also understood to be complete.
- How The FBI Has Been Working Hard To Deport Friends Of Guy They Killed During Interview About Boston Bombing
- There’s Something Very Wrong with the Official Story About the Boston Bombings
- Tsarnaev’s defence team want charges thrown out
- Feds: Tsarnaev Loses Cool, Makes Damaging Remark
- CNN: The Boston Bombings Unsolved Murders, Unanswered Questions
The US government says it will seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement: “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision.”
Seventeen of 30 charges against the 20-year-old – including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill – carry the possibility of capital punishment.
The bombings killed three and injured more than 260 in April 2013.
Mr Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty and no trial date has been set.
Inside Brooklyn’s federal courthouse, a curving cylinder of greenish glass and gray steel, Lawal Babafemi sat silently with his attorney at the defense table as prosecutors got ready to present their case. It was September 27, 2013, a warm Friday in New York, and Babafemi, a 33-year-old Nigerian man with a neatly trimmed goatee, was dressed casually in a blue-and-white-striped polo shirt. It’s safe to say that he was the first magazine employee in the history of publishing to ever face a possible life sentence for trying to recruit writers.
Inspire, the magazine Babafemi allegedly worked for, is not your typical glossy. It’s published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and its special issue on “the Blessed Boston Bombings” contained twenty-two pages of glory and praise to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “They crossed their own finish line at 2:50 P.M.,” read one article in the English-language digital magazine. “The real worthy winners of the Boston Marathon were the Tsarnaev mujahideen brothers.” The issue hit its emotional crescendo on page 26 with a luminescent photo illustration of Tamerlan the martyr against a vision of heaven, a scarf tied loosely around his neck, designer sunglasses on his face, a pair of doves aloft in the sun-dappled clouds behind him.
[…] I don’t want to minimize the pressure that police were under that day, or to understate the risks that they faced. But however generously or harshly one judges the performance of law enforcement, an explanation of what went wrong is needed to prevent future mishaps, and “the fog of war,” a metaphor born on chaotic battlefields, is not an acceptable explanation for a barrage of apparently inaccurate shots fired at a single unarmed suspect already confined in a boat beneath a tarp.
Recall too that, days later, law enforcement officials–one FBI agent and two detectives from the Massachusetts State Police–investigating the Boston bombing would shoot and kill an unarmed Ibragim Todashev at the end of an interrogation.
These episodes also bring to mind the Los Angeles area manhunt for Christopher Dorner, the disgruntled former LAPD officer who went on a killing spree. Police were chasing a 6 foot tall, 270 pound black man. Early one morning, they opened fire on a vehicle believing Dorner was inside. As it turned out, they were firing on two women delivering newspapers: Maggie Carranza, 47, and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez. They later said that there was no warning at all before police began riddling their vehicle with bullets.
- Lawyers ask officials to lift Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s ‘overly harsh’ conditions (The Guardian)
- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev disposed of key bombing evidence, Justice Department says (Washington Times)
- REMINDER: Video shows bomb suspect dodging blast, Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick says (AP)
- NSA chief: Boston bombing investigation helped by phone-call records (Bangor Daily News)
- Maddow: Unarmed Man FBI Killed During Interview Was Shot In The BACK Of The Head (MSNBC)
- New Details in the FBI Shooting Death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev Associate (Boston Daily)
- FBI bars Fla. from releasing Todashev autopsy (Boston Globe)
- Girlfriend of Ibragim Todashev, friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect, talks about her weeks in custody (Boston Magazine)
- Todashev’s girlfriend in custody again, threatened with deportation (Boston Globe)
- CAIR says FBI ordered friends of Todashev to spy on local mosques or face arrest (WFTV)
- Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends plead not guilty (CS Monitor)
I’m starting to think we overreacted to the terrorism thing.
It hit me last year as I was standing in the naked airport scanner again, listening to the faint gasps and then applause from the monitoring booth, and realized that I wouldn’t put up with that hassle to ward off the threat of, say, lightning. You know, like if scientists had figured out that you could reduce the already miniscule chance of being struck by merely standing outside and showing God your dick.
Anyway, that made me look back at the lessons we’ve learned in the 12 years since the 9/11 attacks, and I’ve got to say, it’s not encouraging. For instance, we found out that …
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was badly injured when taken into custody by federal agents in April, with multiple gunshot wounds, including one that had fractured his skull, according to unsealed court papers.
A trauma surgeon detailed the suspect’s condition in a hearing the day the Chechen immigrant, who was lying in a Boston hospital bed, was first charged over the bombing attacks that killed three people and wounded about 264.
Tsarnaev, now 20, is the survivor of a pair of brothers accused of carrying out the worst mass-casualty attack on US soil since 9/11. A pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded on 15 April at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which was crowded with thousands of spectators, volunteers and athletes.
“He has multiple gunshot wounds, the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side inside of his mouth and exited the left face, lower face. This was a high-powered injury that has resulted in skull-base fracture,” Dr Stephen Ray Odom of Beth Israel Medical Center testified on 22 April, according to court papers unsealed late Monday.
We already knew that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the apparent mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombing, “took an interest in Infowars,” the website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, but now the BBC’s investigative program Panorama reports that Tsarnaev had literature espousing all manner of anti-government conspiracy theories and even white supremacism.
After a months-long investigation into the bombing, including exclusive interviews with friends of Tamerlan and his brother Dzhokhar, Panorama found that Tsarnaev had articles claiming that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were perpetrated by the government, while another warned about “the rape of our gun rights.” The brother also subscribed to publications espousing white supremacy, including one that stated that “Hitler had a point.”
It complicates the picture of the Tsarnaev brothers presented in the media as simple home-grown jihadis, inspired by violent Muslim groups like al-Qaida.
The BBC describes the literature as “right-wing,” but it’s actually much more complicated than that. Tsarnaev illustrates how 21st century anti-government conspiracism melts down typical ideological barriers in a postmodern stew of various radicalisms, united by a common deep distrust of the government.
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev had right-wing extremist literature (BBC)
- Boston Bomber Linked With Right-Wing, ‘Conspiracy Theories’ (Infowars)
- Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I. (NY Times)
- BBC report on Bilderberg linking it with McVeigh, bin Laden (BBC)
- Father of Slain Tsarnaev Friend Will Sue FBI (Newser)
A New York woman says her family’s interest in the purchase of pressure cookers and backpacks led to a home visit by six police investigators demanding information about her job, her husband’s ancestry and the preparation of quinoa.
Michele Catalano, who lives in Long Island, New York, said her web searches for pressure cookers, her husband’s hunt for backpacks and her “news junkie” son’s craving for information on the Boston bombings had combined somewhere in the internet ether to create a “perfect storm of terrorism profiling”.
Members of what she described as a “joint terrorism task force” descended on Catalano’s home on Wednesday.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Piece on the above incident begins around 9:50 in the video below.
The FBI’s internal investigation into the lead-up to the Boston Marathon Bombings concluded that the agency couldn’t have done very much to prevent the attacks, according to a report from the New York Times. That’s despite a Congressional probe into the agency’s handling of a security review of Tamerlan Tsarnaev two years before the bombings.
A Massachusetts state police photographer angered by Rolling Stone magazine’s latest cover of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has released never-before-seen photos of Tsarnaev just before he was taken into custody.
Pictures taken by Sgt. Sean Murphy, and first published by Boston Magazine, show a bruised and bloody Tsarneav emerging from the backyard boat he hid in after a confrontation with authorities that left his older brother and alleged bombing accomplice dead.
In his latest piece for Vice, Greg Palast covers the stupid media’s stupid coverage of the race for New York’s new mayor between a Weiner and a lady who isn’t interested and the Boston Bombings and their relation to another one-eyed monster, the NSA…
What Snowden uncovered is not some massive spying operation that could expose terrorist plots, but a massive invasion of the taxpayer’s wallet by connected consultants.
In the meantime, the guys who could have stopped the Boston Marathon attack by using what the FBI called, “old-fashioned police methods”, were short of both budget and brain cells to capture the killers.
Instead, they’re hunting Snowden and reading European embassy emails. Terrorists worldwide want to thank the US government for this colossal act of stupid.
The FBI has ordered a Florida medical examiner’s office not to release the autopsy report of a Chechen man who was killed during an FBI interview in May over his ties to one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers.
The autopsy report for Ibragim Todashev, 27, killed by an FBI agent during an interrogation which took place in his apartment on May 22 was ready for release on July 8. However, the FBI barred its publication, saying an internal probe into his death is ongoing.
“The FBI has informed this office that the case is still under active investigation and thus not to release the document,” according to statement by Tony Miranda, forensic records coordinator for Orange and Osceola counties in Orlando.
The forensic report was expected to clarify the circumstances of Todashev’s death.The Bureau’s statement issued on the day of the incident provided no details of what transpired, saying only that the person being interviewed was killed when a “violent confrontation was initiated by the individual.”
Back in May Ibragim Todashev’s father showed pictures of his dead son’s body at a press conference in Moscow, revealing he had been shot six times.
by Denise Lavoie
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his face swollen and his arm in a cast, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges Wednesday in his first courtroom appearance since his dramatic capture in April.
Tsarnaev, 19, smiled crookedly – he appeared to have a jaw injury – at his sisters as he arrived in court. He looked much as he did in a photo widely circulated after his arrest, his hair curly and unkempt. He appeared nonchalant, almost bored.
He leaned toward a microphone and said, “Not guilty” in a Russian accent to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He made a kissing motion toward his family as he was led out of the courtroom. He could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it.