Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fifteen Chinese Nationals Charged In Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Fifteen Chinese nationals have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting foreign passports, mail fraud and wire fraud, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced today.

The 35 count indictment, returned on May 21, 2015, and unsealed today, names the following 12 individuals as defendants: Han Tong, Xi Fu, Xiaojin Guo, Yudong Zhang, Yue Zou, Biyuan Li aka “Jack Li,” Jia Song, Ning Wei, Gong Zhang, Songling Peng, Siyuan Zhao and Yunlin Sun.  The identities of the three additional defendants remain under seal.

According to the indictment, between 2011 and 2015, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy and a scheme to defraud Educational Testing Services (ETS) and the College Board by having imposters take college and graduate school standardized entrance examinations, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  In carrying out the scheme, the conspirators had counterfeit Chinese passports made and sent to the United States, which were used by the imposters to defraud ETS administrators into believing that they were other people, namely the conspirators who would receive the benefit of the imposter’s test score for use at American colleges and universities.  The majority of the fraudulent exams taken by the conspirators were taken in western Pennsylvania.

“The perpetrators of this conspiracy were using fraudulent passports for the purpose of impersonating test takers of standardized tests including the SAT, GRE and TOEFL and thereby securing fraudulently obtained admissions to American institutions of higher education and circumventing the F1 Student Visa requirements,” stated U.S. Attorney Hickton.  “This case establishes that we will protect the integrity of our passport and visa process, as well as safeguard the national asset of our higher education system from fraudulent access.”

“These students were not only cheating their way into the university, they were also cheating their way through our nation’s immigration system,” said Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of Philadelphia.  “HSI will continue to protect our nation’s borders and work with our federal law enforcement partners to seek out those committing transnational crimes and bring them to justice.”

“The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our other law enforcement partners to investigate allegations of crime related to passport fraud and to bring those who commit these crimes to justice,” said Special Agent in Charge David Schnorbus for DSS’s New York Field Office.  “If criminal enterprises are able to manipulate instruments of international travel for profitable gain, then national security is at risk.”

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both for each count of wire and mail fraud, 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both for each count of counterfeiting foreign passports, and five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both for conspiracy.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense(s) and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Homeland Security, HSI and the Department of State conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.  U.S. Attorney Hickton acknowledged that ETS and the College Board cooperated fully in the investigation.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Happy 107th Birthday To Ian Fleming, Creator Of James Bond

Happy 107th birthday to the late great thriller writer Ian Fleming, creator of the iconic character James Bond. Fleming was born on this date in 1908.

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the history of Ian Fleming's World War II intelligence commando group, the 30 Assault Unit, via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on the Ian Fleming and James Bond phenomenon via the below link:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pussy Galore Returns in New James Bond Continuation Novel, 'Trigger Mortis' reports that Anthony Horowitz, creator of Foyle's War, has authored a James Bond continuation novel called Trigger Mortis, which will feature Ian Fleming's character Pussy Galore.

Pussy Galore is to be reunited with James Bond in the superspy's latest literary outing.
Ian Fleming's famous femme fatale is back in Anthony Horowitz's new official Bond novel, Trigger Mortis.

The bestselling author has revealed his new 007 adventure begins in 1957, two weeks after the end of Fleming's original novel Goldfinger.

The book, out on 8 September, is set against the backdrop of the Soviet-American space race.

As well as Pussy Galore - played by Honor Blackman in 1964's Goldfinger film - the new book features a new Bond girl called Jeopardy Lane and Jai Seung Sin, a "sadistic, scheming" Korean adversary.   

Trigger Mortis will begin with an original Fleming idea - a motor racing scene written for an unmade TV series.

Horowitz said: "It was always my intention to go back to the true Bond, which is to say, the Bond that Fleming created and it was a fantastic bonus having some original, unseen material from the master to launch my story."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

'John Wayne Day' In Texas Honors Actor's 108th Birthday reports that yesterday was declared 'John Wayne Day' in Texas.

Texas Lt. Govenor Dan Patrick declared 'John Wayne Day' in honor of the great western actor's 108th birthday.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Note: You can read an earlier post on John Wayne via the below link:

Reflections On Vietnam War - The Way We Were

R.L. Schreadley, a retired U.S. naval officer and newspaper editor, and the author of From the Rivers to the Sea: The U.S. Navy in Vietnam, looks back on the Vietnam War in a piece in the Charleston Post-Courier.
There were nights on the river, away from the villages and towns, when the stars seemed close enough to touch. In a Swift Boat or a PBR, engines idling, drifting with the current, it was easy to forget the war and the enemy who might be waiting for you at the next bend of the river.
Sometimes your reverie was broken by the rumble and flash of distant artillery — or was it simply thunder and lightning? Sometimes a helicopter gunship appeared from out of nowhere to lash a village or the environs of a village with twin tongues of fire. At other times it was the sudden chatter of automatic weapons or the whoosh of a rocket that ended the dreaming.
And then you wondered: What the hell were you doing there? What the hell was the Navy doing there? 
It’s been 40 years and 10 days since a North Vietnamese Army tank broke through an ornamental iron gate in central Saigon and led celebrating NVA troops to the very doorsteps of South Vietnam’s Presidential Palace.

This Marked the formal end of what was then America's longest war, a war that took the lives of some 58,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen. 
Critics of the war, and I have been one of them, say that Vietnam was a war we should never have gotten into.
Where I differ with many, though, is my firm belief that once we were in there was only one honorable way to get out, and that was by achieving victory, a victory that could have been ours at a price far less than what we paid by suffering a humiliating defeat.
The ramifications of that defeat are with us still, in the bloody chaos we see in the Middle East and elsewhere in a world painfully lacking the leadership and calming presence America once provided.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on a look back at the Vietnam War via the below link:

A Life Of Lies And Spies: Tales Of A CIA Ops Polygraph Interrogator

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Alan B.Trabue's A Life of Lies and Spies in the Washington Times.  

Fairly or not, polygraph examiners for the Central Intelligence Agency and other institutions that require security clearances for staff are not necessarily the most popular guys in the coffee shop. And for good reason: much of their professional lives are devoted to ferreting out secrets their subjects would prefer to leave untold.

Alan B. Trabue, a polygraph specialist for 38 of his 40 years with the CIA, aptly terms the process a “mental colonoscopy,” and he became accustomed to seeing subjects become so nervous that they “fainted during their tests and slid out of their chair.”

He continues, “There were the fearful ones, the angry ones and the dangerous ones. There were examinees so stressed, they spewed vomit across the examination room. Terrified examinees fled the examination room, while others were so angry they refused to leave. Angry subjects waited in the parking lot after their polygraph interviews to confront their examiners as they left the building.”

Some of these persons, to be sure, had reasons to be nervous about the box.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Senior Member Of Al-Qaeda Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Kill U.S. Soldiers In Iraq And Afghanistan And Providing Material Support To Al-Qaeda

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Earlier today, Saddiq al-Abbadi, 40, a Yemeni national, pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder U.S. nationals abroad, providing and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and using a machine gun in furtherance of those crimes.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office.  Today’s guilty plea proceeding took place before U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York.  At sentencing, al-Abbadi faces a maximum of life imprisonment.

“With the guilty plea entered today, Saddiq al-Abbadi will be held accountable for conspiring to kill Americans overseas and providing material support to al-Qaeda,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Seeking to identify, thwart and hold accountable those who target U.S. citizens and interests around the world will remain a top priority of the National Security Division.”

“The defendant was a high-level al-Qaeda operative with ties to the terrorist group’s senior leadership in both Pakistan and Yemen,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Currie.  “He fought in battles against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, tried to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan by luring them to a compound rigged with explosives, and helped an American citizen gain entry to al-Qaeda.  We stand resolute in our commitment to bring to justice those who would try to harm members of our military or who assist al-Qaeda’s efforts to kill Americans at home or abroad.”

“With today’s guilty plea, Al-Abbadi admitted to directly supporting the mission of a designated terrorist organization through planning an operation designed to kill U.S. forces and for engaging in recruitment efforts on behalf of al-Qaeda,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “This plea is due in no small part to the many FBI Special Agents, intelligence analysts, and linguists from the Washington and New York Field Offices as well as our interagency and international partners who spent countless hours investigating terrorism actors and al-Abbadi’s actions.  The FBI will not rest until we find and hold accountable those who provide support to terrorist groups and ensure that they are brought to justice.”

According to court filings, al-Abbadi traveled from his home country of Yemen to Iraq where, from approximately late 2005 through early 2007, he fought alongside al-Qaeda affiliated battalions against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.

In early 2008, al-Abbadi traveled to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan in order to fight for al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  While in the FATA, al-Abbadi – who had longstanding ties to senior members of al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – engaged directly with senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, including Sheikh Saeed al-Masri, the then-third ranking member of al-Qaeda.

During the late spring and summer of 2008, Al-Abbadi crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan for the purpose of fighting and killing members of the U.S. military stationed in Afghanistan.  In June 2008, he planned an operation designed to lure U.S. forces to a compound in Ghazni, Afghanistan, that was rigged with explosives set to detonate upon their entry.  When U.S. forces arrived at the compound, they found rocket-propelled grenades and artillery rounds littered about.  One soldier observed wiring running from the exterior gate to the inside of the compound and recognized the trap.  The military evacuated and subsequently leveled the compound.

In addition to fighting against the U.S. military, al-Abbadi used his connections with al-Qaeda’s leadership to help U.S. citizen Bryant Neal Vinas gain entry into al-Qaeda.  Vinas had traveled to Pakistan from Long Island, New York, in the hopes of joining al-Qaeda and fighting against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.  As a result of al-Abbadi’s assistance, Vinas was allowed to join al-Qaeda.  After participating in al-Qaeda’s military training program, Vinas developed a plan with senior al-Qaeda external operations leadership to conduct an attack on the Long Island Railroad in New York.  Vinas was arrested before he could carry out this attack.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin extended his grateful appreciation to the FBI.  The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Michael P. Canty and Douglas M. Pravda of the Eastern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Josh Parecki of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and by the Office of International Affairs.