Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On This Day In History Mark Twain Was Born

As notes, on this day in 1835 American humorist and author Mark Twain was born.

You can read about his life and work via the below link:

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Richard Zacks' book on the great American writer, Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour, via the below link:

FBI: International Contract Fraud - U.S. Government Employee Steered $2 Million In Micro-Dairy Contracts To His Son

The FBI released the below report:

In 2009, Kenneth Apple was a trusted U.S. Department of State employee who was supposed to be working in Iraq to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country after years of war. Instead, Apple decided to help himself and his son.

Part of a U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Team—consisting of military personnel, diplomats, and agricultural experts like himself—Apple had oversight of multi-million-dollar contracts for a variety of projects designed to stabilize Iraq’s infrastructure and improve its economy.
Apple used his authority to illegally steer $2 million in contracts for micro-dairies to a shell company located in Montana in which his son owned a 50 percent interest—and the company had no experience in the micro-dairy field.

“Apple had the ability to influence the awarding of contracts,” said Special Agent Jeff Pollack, one of the agents who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “He wanted to funnel money to his son. The opportunity was right in front of him, and he took it.”

Micro-dairies are essentially small, mobile dairy farms. “They can even be used in the desert on a slab of concrete,” Pollack said. “Housed inside a storage container is equipment that can process milk into cheese and yogurt. The idea was to provide food and create jobs for the Iraqis.”

During the contract application process, Apple illegally passed critical and confidential U.S. government information to his son—Jonathan Apple—and his son’s partner, who owned Xtreme Global Logistics Solutions (XGLS). The company, in turn, provided false information to U.S. government officials about its experience and capabilities. After the contracts were awarded, Jonathan Apple earned approximately $230,000 in profit, even though the dairy devices were never able to be commercially used.

In 2011, members of the FBI’s International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF)—whose mission is to investigate Americans and others overseas who steal or illegally steer U.S. funds flowing into Iraq and Afghanistan—were looking into fraud allegations at one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq when they came across the XGLS deal.

“We uncovered information that the awarding of the $2 million micro-dairy contracts was not conducted in an appropriate manner.” Pollack said.

This micro-dairy, made by Jonathan Apple’s company, is housed in a storage container and includes equipment that can process milk into cheese and yogurt.

“There was actually a company in Iraq that could have done this work, and this contract could have helped them. But it never happened because of the fraud.”
Josh Lovett, special agent, FBI Washington Field

When investigators later confronted Apple’s son, he lied about his role, stating that his father had no involvement in government contracting. When Kenneth Apple was questioned, he also lied and said he could not recall the owner of the company that won the micro-dairy contracts. “Kenneth Apple intentionally misled us,” Pollack said.

Apple was indicted in December 2015 for wire fraud, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., obstruction of justice, and making false statements. In July 2016, a federal jury in Virginia found him guilty on eight of nine charges. Evidence at trial showed that the micro-dairy units did not meet Iraqi Ministry of Health requirements, which was Apple’s responsibility.

Last month, Apple was sentenced to 50 months in prison and ordered to pay approximately $2 million in restitution and forfeit more than $550,000. In November 2015, Apple’s son pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and cooperated with authorities, testifying against his father in court.
Special Agent Josh Lovett, also part of the investigative team—along with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command—noted that one of the worst aspects of the case was that the micro-dairies could have benefited the Iraqi people.

“The Iraqis were all for this,” he said. “They put up a substantial amount of money to get these micro-dairy systems and to train their people to use them.” But because of the fraudulent manner in which the contracts were awarded, and the company’s failure to meet Iraqi Ministry of Health requirements, the dairy devices were never used.

“There was actually a company in Iraq that could have done this work,” Lovett said. “And this contract could have helped them. But it never happened because of the fraud.”  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Black Axe: Italy Faces Chilling New Organised Crime Group More Ruthless Than The Mafia

Simon Osborne at the British newspaper the Daily Express reports on a new organized crime threat in Italy.

The Black Axe - a Nigerian criminal network that rules by fear - is involved in drug dealing, prostitution and the fraudulent transfer of money between Europe and Nigeria.

And the ruthless organisation is now working alongside the Sicilian mafia - the notorious and powerful Cosa Nostra - after striking a deal with underworld bosses in the island’s capital Palermo and buying the rights to operate in designated areas. 
Deputy prosecutor Leonardo Agueci said: "Cosa Nostra tolerates the Nigerian mafia in Palermo. Cosa Nostra allowed the Nigerians to organise a subordinate structure they were tolerated as long as they didn’t come outside their perimeter.” 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Commit An Act Of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries

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

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 20, of Morganton, North Carolina, appeared in federal court in Asheville, North Carolina today and pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.
The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte, North Carolina, Division.  U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over Sullivan’s plea hearing. 
“Sullivan was in contact and plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord.  “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders.”
“Sullivan admitted in court today that he attempted to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries by planning mass casualty shooting attacks on behalf of ISIL against innocent people in North Carolina and Virginia.  Sullivan also admitted he had frequent and direct communications with Junaid Hussain, one of ISIL’s prominent members in Syria, who asked Sullivan to make a video of the deadly attack,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.  “There is no more important work that we in the Department of Justice undertake than the fight against terrorism.  It is frightening to know that the defendant in this case was able to use social media to contact and seek advice from ISIL, a murderous organization.  Yet, it emboldens us to be fiercely aggressive and diligent in our efforts to combat this special kind of evil.” U.S. Attorney Rose added.       
“Justin Sullivan planned to kill hundreds of innocent people.  He pledged his support to ISIL and took calculated steps to commit a murderous rampage to prove his allegiance to the terrorist organization.  There is no higher priority for the FBI than to thwart the next terrorist attack.  This case is proof of what law enforcement agencies can accomplish to disrupt terrorist activities of any kind,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.         
According to information contained in plea documents, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan watched violent ISIL attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, and collected them on his laptop computer.  Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIL in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.  
Beginning no later than June 7, 2015, Sullivan conspired with Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIL member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries, to plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia.  Sullivan discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.
Court documents indicate that Sullivan told the UCE via social media that it was better to remain in the United States to support ISIL than to travel.  Sullivan suggested that the UCE obtain weapons and told the UCE that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina.  On or about June 20, 2015, Sullivan attempted to purchase hollow point ammunition to be used with the weapon(s) he intended to purchase.  
According to court records, Sullivan had researched on the Internet how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks.  Court records show that Sullivan told the UCE he planned to carry out his attack in the following few days at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed using the assault rifle and silencer.  
Filed documents indicate that over the course of Sullivan’s communications with Junaid Hussain, Hussain had asked Sullivan to make a video of his planned terrorist attack, to which Sullivan had agreed. 
On or about June 19, 2015, the silencer, which was built according to Sullivan’s instructions, was delivered to him at his home in North Carolina, where Sullivan’s mother opened the package, according to court records.  Sullivan took the silencer from his mother and hid it in a crawl space under his house.  When Sullivan’s parents questioned him about the silencer, Sullivan, believing that his parents would interfere with his plans to carry out an attack, offered to compensate the UCE to kill them.   
In filed plea documents, Sullivan admitted that he took substantial steps towards carrying out terrorist attacks in North Carolina and Virginia by: (1) recruiting the UCE; (2) obtaining a silencer from the UCE; (3) procuring the money that would have enabled him to purchase the AR-15; (4) trying to obtain a specific type of ammunition that he believed would be the most “deadly”; (5) identifying separate gun shows where he and the UCE could purchase AR-15s; and (6) obtained coupons for the gun shows he planned for himself and the UCE to attend on June 20 or 21, 2015.  
According to filed documents, on June 19, 2015, Sullivan was arrested at his parents’ home, where law enforcement also executed a search warrant for the silencer and other items.  Law enforcement interviewed Sullivan on separate occasions following his arrest. Sullivan also provided false statements on his involvement in the murder of his neighbor, John Bailey Clark, who had been killed in December 2014.  Sullivan later admitted that he had stolen the rifle from his father’s gun cabinet and hid it in the crawl space.  Forensic testing shows that the .22 rifle hidden by Sullivan was used to murder Mr. Clark.  
The grand jury alleged that Sullivan also killed Mr. Clark, but Sullivan did not admit to this act in his plea today.  However, in the plea documents filed, the United States Attorney set forth evidence supporting this allegation and specifically reserved the Government’s right to prove this additional conduct at Sullivan’s sentencing hearing.  
The District Attorney’s Office for North Carolina’s 25th Prosecutorial District, which includes Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties, is handling North Carolina’s prosecution of Sullivan for Clark’s murder.  
Sullivan is currently in federal custody.  According to the filed plea agreement, Sullivan pleaded guilty to Count Nine of the Superseding Indictment, which charged him with attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.  Under the plea agreement, the parties have agreed that a sentence of life in prison is an appropriate sentence.
In making today’s announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord and U.S. Attorney Rose thanked District Attorney David Learner for his office’s continued assistance and coordination.  Both also praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in this case.  Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord and U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, the U.S. Secret Service, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Hickory Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Gregory R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism section. 

On This Day In History The Second Continental Congress Creates Committee Of Secret Correspondence

As notes, on this day in 1775, the Second Continental Congress created the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The committee, which consisted of Benjamin Franklin and other notables, has been called America's first foreign intelligence organization.

You can read about the committee via the below link:

You can also read the CIA's take on the committee via the below link:

Monday, November 28, 2016

FBI: ’Tis The Season For Holiday Scams

The FBI released the below report:

Shoppers looking for a good deal this holiday season should also be aware of increasingly aggressive and creative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Florida again ranked second in the number of alleged scam victims reported in 2015, with 20,306 consumers claiming a total loss of over $94.5 million. This year, the FBI Jacksonville Division wants local shoppers to be extra vigilant of the following schemes and red flags.

Online Shopping Scams: If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Steer clear of unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand name merchandise or gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product, as you may end up paying for an item, giving away personal information, and receive nothing in return except a compromised identity. In addition, do not open any unsolicited e-mails or click on the links provided. Before shopping online, secure all bank and credit accounts with strong and different passwords. The same should be done for airline and rewards accounts, because the emergence of these offerings has led to an increase in the demand for and resale value of stolen information.

Social Media Scams: Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, even if it appears the offer was shared by an online friend. Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests that lead to participation in an online survey designed to steal personal information. In addition, do not post photos of event tickets on social media sites as fraudsters can use the barcode to recreate tickets for resale.

Smartphone App Scams: Some apps, often disguised as games and offered for free, may be designed to steal personal information from your device. Before downloading an app from an unknown source, look for third-party reviews and be mindful that alternative app marketplaces can potentially include stolen content and compromised versions of otherwise trustworthy applications.

Work-From-Home Scams: Beware of postings offering work that can be done from the comfort of home, as these opportunities may have unscrupulous motivations behind them. Take caution when money is required up front for instructions or products, or when a job post claims “no experience necessary.” Carefully research individuals or companies before providing them with personal information and never provide personal information when first interacting with a potential employer.

Additional steps to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including immediately after making an online purchase and weeks following the holiday season.

Only purchase merchandise from a reputable source.

Don’t trust a website to be secure just because it claims to be.

Do not respond to spam e-mails or click on links contained within them.

Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mails that ask for personal information.

Be cautious of all e-mail attachments and scan them for viruses before opening.

Verify requests for personal information from businesses or financial institutions by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.

Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.

How to report fraud: Consumers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution and then law enforcement. They are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center regardless of dollar amount lost, and provide all relevant information regarding the complaint.

Spies In Palestine: Love, Betrayal, And The Heroic Life Of Sarah Aaronsohn

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of James Srodes' Spies in Palestine: Love, Betrayal, and the Heroic Life of Sarah Aaronsohn.

In more than half a century of reading intelligence literature, seldom have I encountered an operative with the raw courage of Sarah Aaronsohn. Whatever spy tradecraft the woman knew was self-taught. She had to contend not only with hostile neighbors, but with Turkish security officers who delighted in fashioning new and gruesome ways to torture adversaries.
Ms. Aaronsohn’s story is grippingly told by James Srodes in an account that also explores, in brisk and incisive language, a phase of World War I that hisorians tend to skim past — the attempts of Kaiser Germany and allied nations of the Ottoman Empire to seize the Suez Canal, cutting Great Britain’s lifeline to India and the East.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

'Barney Miller' Star Ron Glass Dead At 71

The New York Post reports that actor Ron Glass, a cast member of the cop comedy Barney Miller, had died. He was 71.

Glass portrayed a dapper detective who dreamed of becoming a writer and eventually his character published a police thriller called Blood on the Badge. 

I was and am a fan of the old TV series and the many cast members, including Rod Glass.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Inside Fidel Castro's Life Of Luxury And Ladies While Country Straved

Laura Italiano at the New York Post looks back at the life of Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro.

With his shaggy beard and rumpled, olive-drab fatigues, Fidel Castro presented himself to the world as a modest man of the people.
At times, he claimed he made just 900 pesos ($43) a month and lived in a “fisherman’s hut” somewhere on the beach.
But Castro’s public image was a carefully crafted myth, more fiction than fact.
“While his people suffered, Fidel Castro lived in comfort — keeping everything, including his eight children, his many mistresses, even his wife, a secret,” wrote Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, Castro’s longtime bodyguard.
Sanchez’s book, “The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El LĂ­der Maximo,” describes his former boss’ hidden life of political ruthlessness, mistresses and greed.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Welcome To Hell, Fidel: Cuban Communist Dictator Fidel Castro Is Dead

Joe Tacopino at the New York Post reports that Fidel Castro is dead.

You can read about the life and death of the Cuban Communist dictator via the below link:

Harper Neidig The Hill reports that Cuban-American U.S. Senator Marco Rubio called Castro, "an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people, " and went on to blast President Obama for his "pathetic" statement on the dictator's death.

You can read the piece via the below link: 

Christmas Carols Still Defy Secularism

Christmas carols are being aired on a good number of radio stations now and I hear the usual complaints of it being too early for Christmas carols and how some people truly hate the holiday music.

A few years back I had tried to answer these seasonal complaints with a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer on why I love Christmas carols.

You can read the piece below:

Note: Above is the cover of a CD my daughter bought me a few years back. The CD offers some great, classic Christmas carols.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Obama Administration Expands Elite Military Unit’s Powers To Hunt Foreign Fighters Globally

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is expanding the JSOC's role in hunting foreign fighters.

The Obama administration is giving the elite Joint Special Operations Command— the same organization that helped kill Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs — expanded power to track, plan and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe, a move driven by concerns of a dispersed terrorist threat as Islamic State militants are driven from strongholds in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials said.
The missions could occur well beyond the battlefields of places like Iraq, Syria and Libya where Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carried out clandestine operations in the past. When finalized, it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multiagency intelligence and action force. Known as the “Counter-External Operations Task Force,” the group will be designed to take JSOC’s targeting model — honed over the last 15 years of conflict — and export it globally to go after terrorist networks plotting attacks against the West.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

On This Day In History Jack Ruby Killed Lee Harvey Oswald

As notes, on this day in 1963 Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected murderer of President John F. Kennedy.

You can read about the event via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on the Kennedy assassination via the below link:

U.S. Service Members Mark Thanksgiving Serving On Global Missions

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offered the below report yesterday:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2016 — Tomorrow isn’t Thanksgiving for America’s enemies. 
While the vast majority of Americans will be sitting down with family for a fall feast, hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members will be on guard around the world, ensuring their fellow citizens enjoy a day of peace. 
A USS McCampbell sailor disembarks the Royal Brunei Navy ship KDB Darussalam to board a rigid hull inflatable boat during a visit, board, search and seizure training exercise in the South China Sea, Nov. 17, 2016, as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2016. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Senyk
A USS McCampbell sailor disembarks the Royal Brunei Navy ship KDB Darussalam to board a rigid hull inflatable boat during a visit, board, search and seizure training exercise in the South China Sea, Nov. 17, 2016, as part of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training 2016. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Senyk
For them, it is another duty day.
There are roughly 1.3 million service members on active duty in the military and another 800,000 in the reserve components. They are supported by about 750,000 DoD civilians and thousands of DoD contractors.
Today, there are around 275,000 forward-deployed U.S. service members. They serve in more than 100 countries and on every continent.
Some are in harm’s way. There are about 9,800 U.S. service members in Afghanistan. Most are helping Afghan allies maintain control of their country, while others are taking the fight to violent extremists who hope to use Afghanistan to plan attacks against the United States and its allies.
There are 4,960 U.S. service members in Iraq. They are helping Iraqi forces take the fight to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In Syria, there are about 300 service members helping Syrian democratic forces take on ISIL around Raqqa.
Troops at the Ready
These forces are supported by others based in Turkey, Kuwait and elsewhere in the region.
There are about 28,000 American service members in South Korea ready to “fight tonight,” from the Demilitarized Zone to Busan.
There are about 50,000 American service members based in Japan.
In Europe, Russian aggression in Ukraine and threats to NATO required a response from the United States with troops deploying to the eastern countries of the alliance on a rotational basis.
In Africa, troops are working with local nations to strengthen nations in their fights against Boko Haram and other violent extremist organizations.
Army 1st Lt. Patrick Abele, left, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Strike, and Marine Corps Master Sgt. Travis Madden, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command, monitor the status of a joint readiness drill at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2016. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson
Army 1st Lt. Patrick Abele, left, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Strike, and Marine Corps Master Sgt. Travis Madden, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Crisis Response - Central Command, monitor the status of a joint readiness drill at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Nov. 17, 2016. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel Johnson
In South America, U.S. forces are working with allies to curb the drug trade and stop transnational crime networks.
Overall, the Army has 183,630 soldiers committed to support six geographic commands, according to Army officials. There are roughly 4,000 in U.S. Southern Command, 33,000 in U.S. European Command, 8,000 in U.S. Africa Command, 18,000 supporting operations for U.S. Northern Command, 39,000 in U.S. Central Command, and 72,000 in U.S. Pacific Command.
The Air Force has 63,329 active-duty airmen stationed overseas. They range from the combat zones to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. In addition, thousands of airmen will work this weekend -- as they do year-round --maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent in the heartland of the nation.
The Navy has roughly 73,000 deployed sailors. Some 1,300 submariners are on patrol aboard ballistic missile submarines or attack boats. Many other sailors are at sea maintaining U.S. presence in the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea and the oceans of the world. It is truly a global force.
Marines are aboard these ships, also, as well as serving in posts in the combat zones, and maintaining readiness from Japan to Australia to Norway. Marines are working with allies in the Philippines, and helping train Iraqi forces in al-Taqaddum.
Thousands of service members will guard America using space-based assets and thousands more will protect DoD assets in cyberspace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ohio Man Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Plot To Attack U.S. Government Officers

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

Munir Abdulkader, 22, of West Chester, Ohio, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and lifetime supervised release, for plotting to murder a military base employee and attack a Cincinnati area police station in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Division, Police Chief Joel Herzog of the West Chester Police Department, Superintendent Colonel Paul A. Pride of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Police Chief Eliot Isaac of the Cincinnati Police Department announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett.
“Using social media to communicate with the now-deceased Syria-based ISIL terrorist Junaid Hussain, Abdulkader coordinated and planned violent murders of military members and police officers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Identifying and stopping such ISIL-directed and inspired plots is and will remain one of our highest priorities.”
“Abdulkader placed himself under the direction and control of an evil foreign terrorist organization and plotted with that organization to conduct multiple murderous attacks in the Cincinnati area,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman.
Abdulkader previously pleaded guilty to attempting to kill officers and U.S. government employees, conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Abdulkader’s plan was to murder a specific employee of a military base at the employee’s home. He planned to videotape the murder so that it could be used in an ISIL propaganda video to further ISIL’s cause. Following the murder, Abdulkader would then launch a violent attack on a police station in the Cincinnati area.
In preparation for the attacks, Abdulkader conducted surveillance of the police station, received a targeting package about the victim, went to a shooting range, learned how to operate certain firearms and practiced shooting the firearms. He also bought an AK-47 assault rifle for the attack.
According to the statement of facts admitted by Abdulkader at the plea hearing, beginning in at least July 2014 and continuing into 2015, Abdulkader expressed his support for ISIL on Twitter accounts. From approximately March 2015 to mid-April 2015, Abdulkader began speaking with a Confidential Human Source (CHS) about his desire and intention to travel to Syria in order to join ISIL as a fighter. 
During that same time, Abdulkader made plans and preparations to travel to Syria to join ISIL as a fighter.  Namely, he secured a passport, saved money for the trip and researched the logistical details of traveling to Syria and joining ISIL. In late April, though, Abdulkader expressed concerns about the ability to travel and postponed his original departure date of May 2, 2015.
During May 2015, Abdulkader was in electronic communication with one or more individuals located overseas who he understood were members of ISIL. One of those individuals was a member of ISIL identified as Junaid Hussein. Through their communications, Junaid Hussein directed and encouraged Abdulkader to plan and execute a violent attack within the U.S.
Abdulkader communicated with Junaid Hussein and the CHS about a plan to kill an identified military employee on account of his position with the U.S. government. The plan included abducting the employee at the employee’s home and filming the execution of the employee.
After killing the employee, Abdulkader planned to execute a violent attack on a police station in the Southern District of Ohio using firearms and Molotov cocktails.
Abdulkader was arrested on May 21, 2015 by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), after a controlled purchase and possession of the AK-47 assault rifle.
The defendant was charged by criminal complaint on May 22, 2015 and a bill of information was filed on March 2. Abdulkader pleaded guilty to the three charges in the information on March 24 before U.S. District Judge Barrett. The court documents and proceedings were unsealed in July.
Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord and U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the JTTF. The JTTF is made up of officers and agents from the Cincinnati Police Department; Colerain Police Department in Cincinnati; Dayton Police Department in Dayton, Ohio; Ohio State Highway Patrol; University of Cincinnati Police Department; U.S. Air Force OSI; FBI; U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; IRS; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; West Chester Police Department in West Chester, Ohio; and Xenia Police Department in Xenia, Ohio.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Mangan for the Southern District of Ohio and Trial Attorney Michael Dittoe of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

On This Day In History Jonathan Pollard Was Arrested For Spying For Isreal

As notes, on this day in 1985, called "The Year of the Spy," U.S. naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard was arrested for spying for Israel.

You can read about the case via the below link:

You can also read more about the Pollard case via the below link:

Note: states that Pollard is in prison, but he has in fact been released.

A Look Back At The Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard: My Piece On The Insider Threat - Lessons Learned From The Jonathan Pollard Case

A while back I interviewed former Ronald J. Olive, a former NCIS special agent who worked with and later arrested and interrogated Jonathan Pollard.

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Jonathan Pollard case below:


Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Intellectual And The Talk Show Host: Buckley’s Regular Presence On Carson’s ‘Tonight’

James Rosen, editor of A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century, a book of William F. Buckley's pieces on notable people during the conservative writer's lifetime, offers a piece in the Los Angeles Times on Buckley's many appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
"Johnny Carson was amused by everything,” William F. Buckley Jr., the godfather of modern American conservatism, once observed about the King of Late Night. Buckley’s exposure to the dominant TV entertainer of the 20th century was, literally, episodic: the product of appearances on “The Tonight Show” so frequent that Buckley lost count of them. “I was his guest a half-dozen times,” he estimated after Carson’s death – by which time the figure was actually twice as high.
Today, the regular presence on the leading late night TV shows of someone like Buckley, an aristocratic intellectual given to speaking in whole paragraphs, even other languages – he began one “Tonight” appearance with several sentences in Spanish – would seem, in a lineup dominated by actors and pop stars, glaringly out of place. Back then, however, Buckley fit right in and we were, as a nation, richer for it.
It was in the 1960s and ’70s that Buckley and Carson reached the apex of their influence in their overlapping fields. As a magazine editor, syndicated newspaper columnist, college lecturer, spy novelist, talk show guest and host of “Firing Line,” the longest-running TV show with a single host, Buckley was even more of a multimedia phenomenon than Carson.
What brought them together was an admirable appetite for eclecticism less discernible in our niche-targeted era: a Warholian conflation of High and Low that placed entertainers, athletes, politicians, novelists, intellectuals, psychics and oddballs on the same TV couch.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

FBI: Con Artist Brought to Justice - Arizona Woman Faked Cancer, Scammed Veterans

The FBI released the below report:

An Arizona con artist will be spending the next 25 years behind bars after being convicted of 18 felonies in two separate trials related to her faking cancer and brazenly scamming veterans’ charities out of thousands of dollars.

Chalice Zeitner’s crimes were so outrageous, said FBI Special Agent Heather Rivera, “it’s unlike anything I have ever seen before.”

Zeitner, who skipped town and changed her name when she thought the heat was on, forged medical documents, stole identities, duped her boyfriend and physicians, and fabricated careers that included being a race car driver and a wealthy attorney who owned a law firm in South Africa. Along the way, she left a wake of victims.

Rivera, who investigated the case with Special Agent Suzanne Allen from the FBI’s Phoenix Division, noted that Zeitner seemed to make a career of lies and deception. “Sadly, her path in life was all about defrauding people who trusted her.”

In 2010, Zeitner told her boyfriend she had cancer and was pregnant. Zeitner said she needed to terminate the pregnancy to receive life-saving surgery in Boston. “She told her boyfriend that if she didn’t terminate the pregnancy, she was going to die,” Rivera said. “In reality, she did not have cancer. She was pregnant, but it was not her boyfriend’s child.”

Zeitner then fraudulently created documents from a Boston doctor stating she needed the life-saving surgery by a certain date. She took that document to her Phoenix OB-GYN, who petitioned the hospital to perform a state-funded, late-term abortion so his patient’s life-saving surgery could take place in Boston.

Her OB-GYN “had no reason to think she was lying,” Rivera said, “because who lies about having cancer?”

Shortly after the pregnancy termination, Zeitner’s boyfriend received a social media message supposedly from a family friend named Trinity stating that Zeitner was too proud to ask for help but she wanted to undergo a new type of cancer treatment in Mexico that was expensive. Trinity convinced the boyfriend to fundraise online for the treatment, and he did, raising more than $3,000.

“We are thankful that this individual is going to be off the streets for many years and won’t be able to take advantage of anyone else.”
Suzanne Allen, special agent, FBI Phoenix

Trinity, it turned out, was “a fake person Zeitner created to lend legitimacy to the scheme,” Allen said. Eventually, the boyfriend became suspicious when he was unable to meet Trinity in person, and doctors ultimately learned the truth about Zeitner through examinations during a subsequent pregnancy and cesarean delivery: She had never had cancer.

Her OB-GYN reported Zeitner to state medical authorities, and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System enlisted the FBI’s help to investigate. By that time, however, Zeitner was long gone, having moved to California and changed her name.

In California, Zeitner befriended a man who ran a charity on behalf of veterans. He hoped to create a motor racing team to help raise money, and Zeitner invented a story to gain his trust. “She claimed to be a race car driver who had connections in the industry,” said Allen. She also claimed to be a highly decorated veteran and falsified a military service record to support her claim. On behalf of the charity, Zeitner started planning—and raising money—for a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C. surrounding Veteran’s Day 2012.

“There is no evidence to back up any of Zeitner’s claims regarding her racing cars or military decorations,” Allen said, but Zeitner was persuasive. Although the gala never took place, before the scam unraveled Zeitner had stolen identities from the man and his family and used them to obtain credit cards to run up $25,000 in personal charges. Another veteran’s charity in Arizona was also scammed out of $15,000.

The FBI caught up with the con artist in May 2015. She had fraudulently changed her name to Al Serkez and was living in Georgia. After her arrest and return to Arizona, she was indicted by the state on 11 counts related to the health care fraud. A few months later, a separate state indictment charged her with defrauding the veterans’ charities.

Zeitner was deemed competent to stand trial. In both cases she mounted no defense but maintained her innocence. In April 2016, she was found guilty on the health care charges—among them, faking cancer to receive a government-funded, late-term abortion. In August 2016, after a separate trial, a jury convicted Zeitner on seven additional felony counts for scamming the veterans’ charities. In September, an Arizona judge sentenced her to more than 25 years in prison.

“We are thankful,” Allen said, “that this individual is going to be off the streets for many years and won’t be able to take advantage of anyone else.”

No Reservations At Ristorante Merlino's

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a piece at (with permission from Gangland News) on the closing of the Florida restaurant run by Joey Merlino, the reputed boss of the Philadelphia Cosa Nosa organized crime family.

If you picked up a snazzy Merlino's wineglass on your last trip to Boca, don't throw it away. It may soon be a collector's item. It looks like Joey Merlino is out of the restaurant business.

Reports from Boca Raton, where his posh, eponymous nightspot was located, indicate that the restaurant is closed and the property is for sale. In June, Skinny Joey denied a Miami Herald report that Merlino's had gone belly up. He insisted that his joint was shutting down for the summer season and would reopen in the fall. 

Who knows? That may have been the plan. But that was before the racketeering indictment that snared him and 45 co-defendants for being part of what federal prosecutors have dubbed an East Coast LCN Enterprise. 

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

Note: George Anastasia mentions former mobster Ron Previte in the piece. You can read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of his book on Previte and Merlino, The Last Gangster, via the below link: