Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Gun-Crime Tool That Works: Strict Federal Enforcement Of Existing Firearms Laws Could Help Save Chicago

David Keene at the Washington Times offers a piece on how strict enforcement of existing gun laws could help Chicago.

President Trump threatened last week to send the “feds” in to clean up Chicago if the city doesn’t do something to reduce the escalating murder rate that has made the gang-infested Windy City among the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the world. What the president doesn’t seem to realize is that he has the tools to deal with the crisis without so drastic a step.
Chicago has turned into a free-fire zone for gangbangers and other thugs not because Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the U.S. Justice Department during the Obama years lacked the resources and tools to deal with the problem, but because they refused to use them. The mayor and his defenders respond to those demanding action by attempting less successfully every day by trying to pass the buck. Mr. Emanuel claims the city doesn’t have enough money to hire more police officers and that if Mr. Trump wants to help, he ought to find a way to give him more. At the same time, he doubts even that will work because the real problem isn’t that the city is overrun with gangs and criminals or that his police force is demoralized and unable to do its job. Rather, it’s because Congress hasn’t passed the “common-sense” gun control laws he and President Obama sought as a magical way to solve the problems of a crime-ridden city.
Before leaving office, Mr. Obama and his Justice Department released a widely heralded but poorly documented report of abuses by Chicago police officers, blaming much of the current crisis on such abuses and the “loss of trust” in the police by Chicago residents. The mayor, seeing yet another opportunity to pass the buck, has said he will sign a federal consent decree that will further sap the morale of a department already on the verge of collapse. Doing so will only make matters worse.
The Manhattan Institute’s Heather McDonald, who has spent as much or more time than anyone in the country studying the effects of the demonization of police on the situation in Chicago and elsewhere, observed correctly in a recent Wall Street Journal piece that what Mr. Trump ought to do is recognize the almost purely local nature of policing, and “tear up the Chicago report and declare that the federal government stands behind proactive policing.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrival Of Four Defendants From Kenya Charged With Trafficking In Massive Quantities Of Heroin And Methamphetamine

The Manhattan U. S Attorney's Office released the below information:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Raymond Donovan, the Special Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), today announced that four individuals charged with participating in a narcotics importation conspiracy arrived in New York from Kenya.

BAKTASH AKASHA ABDALLA, a/k/a “Baktash Akasha,” IBRAHIM AKASHA ABDALLA, a/k/a “Ibrahim Akasha,” GULAM HUSSEIN, a/k/a “Hussein Shabakhash,” a/k/a “Hadji Hussein,” a/k/a “Old Man,” and VIJAYGIRI ANANDGIRI GOSWAMI, a/k/a “Vijay Goswami,” a/k/a “Vicky Goswami,” were arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, on November 9, 2014, pursuant to a United States request, based on charges filed in the Southern District of New York arising out of their participation in a conspiracy to import kilogram quantities of heroin and methamphetamine into the United States. On November 10, 2014, a superseding Indictment was returned also charging the defendants with narcotics importation offenses based on their delivery of 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine in Kenya, which they intended would be imported into the United States. The four defendants will be presented and arraigned in Magistrate Court later today.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, the four defendants who arrived yesterday in New York ran a Kenyan drug trafficking organization with global ambitions. For their alleged distribution of literally tons of narcotics – heroin and methamphetamine – around the globe, including to America, they will now face justice in a New York federal court.”
DEA Special Operations Division Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan said: “DEA pursues the most dangerous global drug traffickers who pose a direct threat to safety and stability around the world. We are relentlessly pursuing these criminal groups and their facilitators at every level with our law enforcement partners and we value and appreciate the work of our Kenyan counterparts. It is critical that we attack these dangerous networks before they can do even more damage worldwide and threaten innocent lives.”

According to the allegations in the superseding Indictment[1]:

From in or about March 2014 through the date of their arrests, BAKTASH AKASHA, IBRAHIM AKASHA, HUSSEIN, and GOSWAMI conspired to import kilogram-quantities of heroin into the United States. During the same period, BAKTASH AKASHA, IBRAHIM AKASHA, and GOSWAMI conspired to import kilogram quantities of methamphetamine into the United States.

BAKTASH AKASHA is the leader of an organized crime family in Kenya (the “Akasha Organization”) responsible for the production and distribution of ton quantities of narcotics within Kenya and throughout Africa. Moreover, the Akasha Organization’s distribution network extends beyond the African continent to include the distribution of narcotics for importation into the United States. IBRAHIM AKASHA is the brother and deputy of BAKTASH AKASHA. GOSWAMI manages the Akasha Organization’s drug business, including the production and distribution of methamphetamine and the procurement and distribution of heroin. HUSSEIN – a resident of Pakistan and a long-time associate of GOSWAMI – heads a transportation network that distributes massive quantities of narcotics throughout the Middle East and Africa, and has acknowledged responsibility for transporting tons of kilograms of heroin by sea.

Over the course of several months, during telephone calls and meetings in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, the defendants agreed to supply, and in fact did supply, multi-kilogram quantities of heroin and methamphetamine to individuals they believed to be representatives of a South American drug-trafficking organization, but who were in fact confidential sources (the “CSes”) working at the direction and under the supervision of the DEA. BAKTASH AKASHA, IBRAHIM AKASHA, and GOSWAMI negotiated on behalf of the Akasha Organization to procure and distribute hundreds of kilograms of heroin from suppliers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and to produce and distribute hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine, which they understood would ultimately be imported into the United States. At the same time, HUSSEIN agreed to transport heroin from the Akasha Organization’s supplier in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region to East Africa, so that it could be delivered to the CSes.

During a meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, in April 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA introduced a CS via Skype to one of his heroin suppliers in Pakistan, who said he could provide 420 kilograms of 100 percent pure heroin – which he called “diamond” quality – for distribution in the United States. Thereafter, in June 2014, GOSWAMI began discussing with the CSes his ability to procure methamphetamine precursor chemicals and to establish labs to produce methamphetamine for importation to the United States. In a meeting in Mombasa in September 2014, BAKTASH AKASHA introduced HUSSEIN as a narcotics transporter from Afghanistan who moves ton quantities of narcotics using ships. BAKTASH AKASHA and GOSWAMI described the supplier of heroin for their deal with the CSes, to whom they referred as “the Sultan,” as the top supplier of white heroin in the world.

In September and October 2014, IBRAHIM AKASHA personally delivered one-kilogram samples of methamphetamine and heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organization. Thereafter, during a telephone call in October 2014 between BAKTASH AKASHA, GOSWAMI, and one of the CSes, GOSWAMI reported that 98 “chickens” had arrived, referring to 98 kilograms of heroin. GOSWAMI said that the South American drug organization would only need to pay for half of the 98 kilograms of heroin because the Akasha Organization would cover the cost of remaining kilograms. Then, in early November, IBRAHIM AKASHA personally delivered 98 kilograms of heroin to the CSes in Nairobi on behalf of the Akasha Organization. A few days later, IBRAHIM AKASHA also delivered another kilogram of methamphetamine.

In the course these negotiations, the Akasha Organization provided a total of 99 kilograms of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to the confidential sources, and agreed to provide hundreds of kilograms more of each. The defendants were arrested on November 9, 2014, in Mombasa, Kenya, prior to another planned meeting with the CSes.

* * *

BAKTASH AKASHA, 40, is a Kenyan national and a resident of Kenya. IBRAHIM AKASHA, 28, is also a Kenyan national and a resident of Kenya. HUSSEIN, 61, is a Pakistani national and a resident of Pakistan. GOSWAMI, 55, is an Indian national and a resident of Kenya. The defendants are charged with conspiring to import heroin into the United States (Count One), conspiring to import methamphetamine into the United States (Count Two), distributing heroin for unlawful importation into the United States (Count Three), and distributing methamphetamine for unlawful importation in the United States (Count Four). Each count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The minimum and maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division’s Bilateral Investigations Unit. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in bringing the defendants to the United States to face charges. Mr. Bharara also thanked the DEA’s Nairobi Country Office, the Government of the Republic of Kenya, the Kenyan National Police Services Anti-Narcotics Unit, and members of the Kenyan DEA Formal Vetted Unit.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Lockard and Emil J. Bove III are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the superseding Indictment, and the description of the superseding Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation. 

U.S. Raid In Yemen Garners Intelligence

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2017 — The U.S. military raid on the militant Islamist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula compound in Yemen Jan. 28 that killed a U.S. service member and injured three others yielded valuable intelligence, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.
Material captured from the site will help the United States “gain a deeper insight into the group’s planning to help prevent terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in the United States and our coalition-partner nations,” he said.
Similar site exploitation operations in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq have produced information about terrorist planner logistics, recruiting and financing efforts, Davis noted.

“Until now, we’ve had limited access to terror sites on the ground to gain intelligence from [al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula],” he said.

Raid Conducted for Intel Gathering

“This [operation] was specifically to enable us to gather the information we needed to be able to map out this group better, and to prevent future foreign terrorist attacks,” the captain said, noting that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has a number of links to very specific, United States and Western-focused attacks.

The three service members’ injuries occurred when an Osprey MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft made a hard landing during the operation, Davis said, adding that the inoperable Osprey was subsequently destroyed in place by a U.S. airstrike.
Casualties Being Assessed

The raid on the compound, in a remote area of al-Bayda, Yemen, reportedly also killed 14 of the organization’s operatives, he said.

The casualties in Yemen are being assessed, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s use of numerous female fighters, some of whom were among those killed in the raid, Davis said.
“The [female fighters] ran to pre-established positions as if they’d trained to be ready and trained to be combatants and engage with us. So, some of the enemy killed in combat are in fact female,” he said.

Aggressive Actions Against Terrorists

The operation had been planned for months, and was one in a series of aggressive actions against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, he said.

Coalition forces drove the organization out of Yemen’s al-Mukalla province last year, which the terrorist group controlled at the time, Davis noted, adding they then moved down the Yemen coast to parts of Aden and inland.

“The AQAP presence right now is largely coastal with some inland presence,” he noted.
“AQAP is a foreign terrorist organization designated as such,” Davis said. “It continues to target U.S. and allied interests in Yemen as well as around the world.”

The United States is interested in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula following their proven history of engaging in external operations, he said.

Davis said the terrorist events that the group has claimed responsibility for or been linked to include the attempt to mail explosives to U.S. addresses in 2010; orchestrating complex attacks against Yemen’s ministry of defense in 2013; and most recently, the targeted and financed attack and massacre on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.

The group also is connected to attacks on the United States that include the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the attempted underwear bombing aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas in 2009.

“The United States and our partner nations remain committed to eradicating the threats posed by violent extremism and destroying militant safe havens,” Davis emphasized. “We will take measures to combat terrorism, ensuring the safety and security of the U.S. citizens and those targeted by terrorists.”

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chazz Palminteri 'Was Blessed' With Growing Up With Wise Guys

Christine Burroni at the New York Post offers a piece on why A Bronx Tale is so important to producer/writer/actor Chazz Palminteri.

When it comes to the Bronx Chazz Palminteri sheds his tough-guy persona.

“I have such a strong feeling and passion for ‘A Bronx Tale’ because it’s my life and it’s my parents,” he said of the musical during BroadwayCon at the Jacob Javits Center on Sunday. “And I was blessed with growing up with all these wise guys that taught me the streets.”
The 64-year-old actor has seen the story of his life evolve over 27 years from a book to a one-man show to a movie directed by Robert De Niro, and now a Broadway musical (for which De Niro is also a co-director).
While “A Bronx Tale” focuses on his relationship with his mobster mentor, Sonny, Palminteri credits his fame to his parents — specifically, his late father.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer Q&A with Chazz Palminteri via the below link:


Pennsylvania Man Pleaded Guilty To Conspiracy To Provide Material Support To ISIL And Transmitting A Communication Containing A Threat to Injure

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

 Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 20, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge Michael Harpster of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. The plea was entered before Chief U.S. District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner.

“Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz conspired to provide material support to ISIL by aiding individuals in their pursuit of traveling overseas to join the designated foreign terrorist organization and by using social media to propagate ISIL’s threats to injure U.S. service members,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations and threaten members of our military.”

“The security of the American People is the highest priority for our office and the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Brandler. “While we cannot eliminate terrorism completely, we can bring to justice those responsible for providing material support and resources to terrorist groups and for spreading hate and destruction in our communities and abroad. Thankfully, the defendant’s activities were disrupted by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force and justice will be served in this case.”

"As evidenced here, ISIL loyalists need not travel to the field of battle to threaten lives and do harm," said Special Agent in Charge Harpster. "An American citizen provided material support to terrorists from American soil, while enjoying all the rights and privileges scorned by ISIL. We are gratified that Mr. Aziz is being brought to justice for these acts."

According to the filed court documents, on Dec. 22, 2015, Aziz was charged in an indictment with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to ISIL (Counts 1 and 2). A superseding indictment was returned on May 18, 2016, which added Solicitation to Commit a crime of violence (Count 3) and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure (Count 4).

According to the superseding indictment, from July 2014 to Dec. 17, 2015, Aziz knowingly conspired to provide, provided and attempted to provide material support, including personnel and services, to ISIL. The superseding indictment also alleges that during the same time period, Aziz solicited, commanded, induced and endeavored to persuade others to kill and attempt to kill officers and employees of the United States. The superseding indictment further alleges that he knowingly tweeted the names, addresses, photographs and military branches of approximately 100 U.S. service members to followers and viewers of his Twitter account. The communication also contained threats to injure the service members, stating “kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their street thinking that they are safe.”

Aziz pledged his allegiance to the leader of ISIL and used at least 71 different Twitter accounts to advocate violence against the U.S. and its citizens, to disseminate ISIL propaganda and to espouse pro-ISIL views. On at least three occasions, Aziz allegedly used his Twitter accounts and other electronic communication services to assist persons seeking to travel to and fight for ISIL. In one instance, Aziz allegedly acted as an intermediary between a person in Turkey and several well-known members of ISIL.

Aziz passed location information, including maps and a telephone number, between these ISIL supporters. A search of a tactical/military style backpack located in Aziz’s closet identified five loaded M4-style high-capacity magazines, a modified straight edge knife, a thumb drive, medication, flashlights, a toothbrush, sunflower seeds, a lighter, nail clippers, fingerless gloves, a pocket watch and a black balaclava, which is like a ski mask and similar to those worn by ISIL supporters.

The maximum penalty provided in the statute for Count 1, Conspiracy to Provide Material Support and Resources to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, is 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a term of supervised release of up to life and a $100 special assessment. The maximum penalty for Count 4, Transmitting a Communication Containing a Threat to Injure, is five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, a term of supervised release of three years and a $100 special assessment.
The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which includes the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daryl F. Bloom and Trial Attorneys Robert Sander and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.

On This Day In History The Tet Offensive Began In Vietnam

As History.com notes, on this day in 1968 the Tet Offensive began in Vietnam.

You can read about the event via the below link:


You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Vietnam War via the below link:


And you can watch a six-minute video that explains the Vietnam War via the below link:


Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump Swears In Mattis, Signs Executive Actions At Pentagon Ceremony

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump signed two executive actions and watched as Vice President Mike Pence ceremonially swore in Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes here today.

Mattis once again swore “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” just as he did as a young Marine reservist in 1969. Mattis retired as a four-star general in 2013.

The defense secretary welcomed the president to the headquarters of the military “where America’s awesome determination to defend itself is always on display. I would just tell you that you have made clear, Mr. President, your commitment to a strong national defense and the Americans honored in this hall remind us of our strength as a nation of patriots.”

The president reemphasized his “total confidence” in Mattis, calling him “a man of honor, a man of devotion and a man of total action.”

The secretary has been in place since he was confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 20. He reported to the Pentagon for work the next day.

Military America’s Backbone

Trump said the men and women in the military are the backbone of the United States. “You are the spirit of this nation in every sense,” he said. “The men and women of the United States military are the greatest force for justice and peace and good that have ever walked the face of this Earth.”
The president pledged to support service members and their families.

While at the Pentagon, Trump signed two executive actions to ensure “the sacrifices of our military are supported by the actions of our government.”

The first action initiates “a great rebuilding” of the armed services. It calls for developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new tools and new resources for the services. “As we prepare our budget request for Congress -- and I think Congress is going to be very happy to see it -- our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace,” he said.

The second action establishes new vetting measures “to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America -- we don’t want them here,” the president said. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats that our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit into our country those who will support our country and love, deeply, our people.”

Trump promised to service members that his administration will “always have your back, we will always be with you.”

Before the ceremony, Trump and Pence met with defense leaders in the “Tank” -- the meeting room of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mattis Orders Program Reviews

Earlier in the day, Mattis directed reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the purpose of the reviews is “to inform programmatic and budgetary decisions, recognizing the critical importance of each of these acquisition programs.”

He called it a prudent step in anticipation of the budget process, which will help inform the secretary's recommendations to the president regarding critical military capabilities.

“This action is also consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense,” Davis said, “and it aligns with the secretary’s priority to increase military readiness while gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense.”

Real-life 'James Bond Q' Is A Woman, MI6 Reveals

The BBC reports that the chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service, popularly known as MI6, claims the agency's "Q" is a woman.
The real-life equivalent of Q in the James Bond films is a woman, the head of MI6 has said.
Alex Younger, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, made the revelation as he encouraged more women to join the service.
He said there is a stereotype that MI6 spies were posh and he wanted recruits from diverse backgrounds.
The character of Q, a technology expert, has always been played by a man in the Bond films.
Speaking at the Women in IT awards on Wednesday, Mr Younger said: "The real-life Q is looking forward to meeting you and I'm pleased to report that the real-life Q is a woman."

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


Thursday, January 26, 2017

FBI: Employment Scam Targeting College Students Remains Prevalent

The FBI released the below information:

 College students across the United States continue to be targeted in a common employment scam. Scammers advertise phony job opportunities on college employment websites, and/or students receive e-mails on their school accounts recruiting them for fictitious positions. This "employment" results in a financial loss for participating students.

How the scam works:

Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.

The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a "vendor", purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.

Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.

The following are some examples of the employment scam e-mails:

"You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay."

"I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training."

"Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies."

Consequences of participating in this scam:

The student's bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.

The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.

The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.

Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.

Tips on how to protect yourself from this scam:

Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.

Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.

Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.

If you have been a victim of this scam or any other Internet-related scam, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov and notify your campus police.

The IC3 produced a PSA in May 2014 titled "Cyber-Related Scams Targeting Universities, Employees, and Students," which mentioned this type of scam.

This PSA can be viewed at https://www.ic3.gov/media/2014/140505.aspx

New York Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Conspiring To Provide Material Support To ISIL In Connection With Planned New Year's Eve Attack

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

Emanuel L. Lutchman, 26, of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 50 years of supervised release for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. of the Western District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen of the FBI’s Buffalo, New York Division made the announcement. Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci of the Western District of New York handed down the sentence.

“Emanuel Lutchman conspired with an ISIL member located overseas and planned to kill innocent civilians on U.S. soil in the name of the terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “Countering terrorist threats remains the highest priority of the National Security Division, and we will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who conspire to provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations. I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who contributed to the disruption of this deadly plot.”

“This defendant was in direct personal communication with an individual who was an external attack planner and influential recruiter for ISIL in Syria,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “That individual is now deceased, but, while living, he acted essentially as a terror trainer to Emanuel Lutchman and others. Together the two discussed the defendant’s plan to conduct a murderous attack within the City of Rochester essentially as a means of establishing his value as a future terrorist for ISIL in Syria. Viewed in this context, it would be hard to overstate the danger that Lutchman presented.” Mr. Kennedy emphasized that, “As prosecutors, a significant part of the role we play is to protect the citizens in our community from the threats they face. This sentence accomplishes that.”

"Just over a year ago, we arrested Emanual Lutchman. It was a good day for Rochester, and for people everywhere who would felt the impact of Lutchman's violent acts," said Special Agent in Charge Cohen. "The days preceding Lutchman’s arrest were full of apprehension after Lutchman accepted a directive from Abu Issa Al Amriki – a known ISIL leader – to kill multiple Americans. Today ends the judicial process for this case, but the FBI continues to work hard to protect our communities.”

Lutchman admitted that he conspired with an individual known as Abu Issa Al-Amriki, a now-deceased ISIL member in Syria, and planned to conduct an attack against civilians using knives and a machete on New Year’s Eve in 2015. Lutchman admitted that he intended to conduct an attack that could be claimed by ISIL and that could also help him gain membership into ISIL when he thereafter traveled overseas to join the terrorist organization.

According to court documents, Lutchman posted on social media expressions of support for ISIL, including images, videos and documents relating to ISIL and violent jihad. Lutchman also downloaded and watched terrorism-related videos, including videos relating to ISIL and the now-deceased terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. The defendant also maintained a digital collection of documents relating to terrorism and terrorist groups. This included all of the issues of Inspire magazine and other documents designed to provide guidance to individuals seeking to travel overseas to engage in violent jihad or engage in “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In December 2015, Lutchman obtained an online document written by an ISIL member in Syria, in which the ISIL member provided guidance to supporters who were seeking to travel overseas to join ISIL, including advice about preparation for violent jihad; the use of security measures while traveling to avoid apprehension by law enforcement authorities; instructions for killing non-believers and infidels, or “kuffar”; and contact information for the ISIL member and Al-Amriki.

On Dec. 25, 2015, Lutchman initiated online contact with Al-Amriki, who identified himself as an ISIL member in Syria. In a series of subsequent communications, Al-Amriki told Lutchman to plan an attack on New Year’s Eve and kill a number of kuffar. Al-Amriki advised the defendant to write something before the attack and give it to the ISIL member so that after the attack the ISIL member could post it online to announce Lutchman’s allegiance to ISIL. Al-Amriki told Lutchman that whatever Lutchman sends to ISIL, they would keep it until the attack was complete and then post it and publicize the attack on the Internet. Al-Amriki emphasized that Lutchman is “behind enemy lines,” that Lutchman was the closest person to their most hated enemy and that Lutchman has the chance to do things that ISIL wishes it could do.

Lutchman ultimately told Al-Amriki that he has a couple of “brothers” that want to make hijra and plan an attack. Al-Amriki encouraged Lutchman to complete an attack and stated that, if the Syrian borders open and the attack does not succeed, he would help Lutchman and his “brothers” make hijra. Al-Amriki told Lutchman to show ISIL how serious he is, stating, “New years is here soon. Do operations and kill some kuffar.” Lutchman told Al-Amriki that he hates it in the U.S., that he wants to join the ranks of ISIL and that he is ready to “give everything up” to be in Syria with ISIL. Al-Amriki told Lutchman, for the time being, to do what he can in the U.S.

In late December 2015, Lutchman was communicating with other individuals (referred to as Individuals A, B, and C in the plea agreement) who, unbeknownst to Lutchman, were cooperating with the FBI. In these communications, Lutchman made statements expressing his strong support of ISIL and his desire to travel overseas to join ISIL. He also discussed in detail his online communications with Al-Amriki and the ISIL member. In subsequent communications, Lutchman referred at various times to Individuals A, B and C as “brothers” who would be involved in the New Year’s Eve attack.

Lutchman admitted that on Dec. 27, 2015, he and Al-Amriki discussed potential targets, and Al-Amriki told Lutchman to find the most populated area and kill as many people as possible. Al-Amriki reiterated that, after the operation was done, he would vouch for Lutchman and the other participants in the attack, and he would start sending “brothers” to ISIL in Libya, to which Lutchman agreed.

Lutchman admitted that he met with Individual C on Dec. 28, 2015, and indicated that he wanted to target a club or bar and proposed that they kidnap a couple of people and kill them. Lutchman stated that they would have to wear masks during the operation in order to avoid getting caught by law enforcement authorities. As they drove by a particular restaurant/bar in Rochester, Lutchman identified it as the target of the attack.

Lutchman admitted that on the evening of Dec. 29, 2015, Lutchman and Individual C went to a store in Rochester to purchase weapons and supplies for the attack, including two black ski masks, two knives, a machete, zip-ties, duct tape, ammonia and latex gloves. Lutchman told Individual C that “the operation is a go,” and noted that many victims would have to be killed. The defendant and Individual C discussed making a video before the operation, at Al-Amriki’s direction, in which they would explain their rationale for the attack and swear bayah (allegiance) to the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Lutchman said that he planned to release the video after the completion of the attack.

Lutchman admitted that on Dec. 30, 2015, he made a video pledging allegiance to ISIL and al-Baghdadi, and stated that ISIL was going to establish the caliphate in the land of Islam. In reference to the planned New Year’s Eve attack, Lutchman stated, “the blood that you spill of the Muslim overseas we gonna spill the blood of the kuffar,” and asked Allah to “make this a victory.” In the video, Lutchman covered all of his face except for his eyes and he held one index finger in the air, which is a sign commonly used by ISIL members and supporters. Immediately thereafter, law enforcement agents arrested Lutchman and recovered the items purchased by Lutchman and Individual C the previous day from Lutchman’s residence.

Lutchman has been detained in federal custody since his arrest on Dec. 30, 2015 by members of the FBI’s Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Rochester JTTF. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey of the Western District of New York, with the assistance of Trial Attorney Larry Schneider of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Man, 70, Robbed Bank To Get Away From Wife

The Toronto Sun offers a piece on a man (seen in the above photo) who robbed a bank to get away from his wife. (photo of the wife was not available).

Bet she didn’t tell you why her husband went there [jail]?”

“How come?”

“To get away from Jeannie!”

-- Henry Hill explains to his wife a criminal confederate’s motives for going to prison in GoodFellas.

Taking a page from Goodfellas, Lawrence Ripple wanted to get away from his wife too. 

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


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Scottish Cold War Nuclear Submarine Collision Kept Secret For 43 years

Matthew Weaver at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on a collision between an American submarine and a Soviet submarine off the US nuclear submarine base in Holy Loch, Scotland in 1974. (I was stationed on a Navy harbor tugboat at the Holy Loch submarine base at the time). 

Documents published by CIA reveal crash between US and Soviet subs a few miles off coast of Scotland in 1974

Two nuclear submarines from rival sides in the cold war collided a few miles off the coast of Scotland in an incident that was covered up for 43 years.

The potentially catastrophic crash occurred in November 1974 when the SSBN James Madison, armed with 16 Poseidon nuclear missiles, was heading out of the US naval base at Holy Loch, 30 miles north-west of Glasgow.

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

Joint Chiefs Warn Of Increased Cooperation Of Terrorist, Criminal Networks

Morgan Chalfant at the Free Beacon offers a piece on the Joint Chiefs' warning about terrorist and criminal groups cooperating.

Criminal and terrorist networks are evolving “out of view” of U.S. intelligence and increasingly cooperating to achieve their goals, according to a new document from the U.S. military that calls for a better coordinated effort between the Pentagon and other government agencies to counter threat networks.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the United States to deter threats from transnational networks such as terrorist organizations and groups trafficking illicit goods, according to the document from the Joint Chiefs of Staff published in late December.
The Joint Publication 3-25, which was recently highlighted by the Federation of American Scientists, evaluated the United States’ efforts to counter networks threatening U.S. interests at home and abroad, calling for more interagency work and partnerships with international organizations and allies to deter them.
“Traditional threats like insurgencies and criminal gangs have been exploiting weak or corrupt governments for years, but the rise of transnational extremists and their active cooperation with traditional threats has changed the global dynamic,” the document dated Dec. 21, 2016, stated. “Successful deterrence and elimination of these illicit networks is more complicated and less predictable than in the past.”

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


Monday, January 23, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of ‘Hemingway at War: Ernest Hemingway’s Adventures as a World War II Correspondent’

My review of Terry Mort's Hemingway at War: Ernest Hemingway's Adventures as a World War II Correspondent appeared in the Washington Times.

As a Hemingway aficionado since my early teens, I’ve read all of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, short stories, his letters and most of the biographies written about him. I’ve also read collections of his journalism, including the six articles he wrote as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine during World War II.

Since his suicide in 1961, there has been a steady stream of books about Hemingway, whom many suggest may be the greatest and most influential writer of the 20th century. Of course, Hemingway has his detractors. Hemingway weaved his real life through his fiction, thus creating the Hemingway persona and the quintessential macho fictional Hemingway hero. This has made it easy for the Hemingway haters to zero in on his personal life and disparage both his life and his work by emphasizing his bragging, bullying and boozing. They have also delighted in deflating his tough guy image by zeroing in on his time as a World War II combat correspondent, branding him a coward, a liar and a fake journalist.

Terry Mort, a writer who has written seven novels and six nonfiction books, including “The Hemingway Patrols: Ernest Hemingway and His Hunt for U-Boats,” offers an evenhanded look at Hemingway’s wartime role in “Hemingway at War.”

“Hemingway had a talent for being at the center of important events. Those events — and some of the people connected with them — are a large part of this story. He was with the Allied landings on D-Day. He flew with the RAF on at least one bombing mission. He flew with them during an attack of V-1 flying bombs. He operated with the French Resistance and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as the Allies advanced to Paris. And he was present and indeed active during the horrendous carnage of the battle for the Hurtgenwald in Germany’s Siegfried Line. As such he provides a useful lens to examine these events and also some of the people, both the troops who fought and the civilian journalists who covered the fighting,” Mr. Mort writes in his introduction. “Inevitably and understandably, his exposure to people and events affected his journalism, and later his fiction. This book attempts therefore to place him in the context of this history and in so doing expand understanding of those events and their effect on him, personally and professionally.”

I believe Mr. Mort largely succeeded in his goal.

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

On This Day In History North Korea Seized The USS Pueblo

As History.com notes, on this day in 1968 the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo.

The U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo is seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and confidence in the foreign policy of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Jack Cheevers' Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo via the below link:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Krauthammer: By Freeing Traitor Manning And Other Acts Obama Shows His True Colors as He Leaves Office

Charles Krauthammer's column in National Review Online offers his take on Obama's true colors.

Barack Obama did not go out quietly. His unquiet final acts were overshadowed, in part by a successor who refused to come in quietly, and in part by Obama’s own endless, sentimental farewell tour. But there was nothing nostalgic or sentimental about Obama’s last acts. Two of them were simply shocking. 

Perhaps we should have known. At the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, he joked about whether he had a bucket list: “Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”

Turns out, he wasn’t kidding. Commuting the sentence of Chelsea Manning, one of the great traitors of our time, is finger-in-the-eye willfulness. Obama took 28 years off the sentence of a soldier who stole and then released through WikiLeaks almost half a million military reports plus another quarter-million State Department documents. 

The cables were embarrassing; the military secrets were almost certainly deadly. They jeopardized the lives not just of American soldiers on two active fronts — Iraq and Afghanistan — but of locals who were, at great peril, secretly aiding and abetting us. After Manning’s documents release, the Taliban “went on a killing spree” (according to intelligence sources quoted by Fox News) of those who fit the description of individuals working with the United States.

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


Semper Cop: Happy 80th Birthday To Joseph Wambaugh

Happy 80th birthday to Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Choirboys, The Onion Field and other crime classics.

You can visit his website via the below link:


You can also read my Q&A with Joseph Wambaugh via the below link:


On This Day In History George Gordon, Lord Byron, Was Born

As History.com notes, on this day in 1788 poet George Gordon, known as Lord Byron, was born.

You can read about the romantic poet via the below link:


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Defense Secretary James Mattis Issues Message To Nation’s ‘Sentinels and Guardians’

The DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2017 — Almost immediately after taking office this evening, Defense Secretary James Mattis issued a message to the men and women of the Defense Department.
Here is the text of the secretary’s message:
It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.
Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.
Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.
I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.

Note: You can read a biography of James Mattis via the below link:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera Faces Charges In New York For Leading A Continuing Criminal Enterprise And Other Drug-Related Charges

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

 Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates today announced that Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known by various aliases including “El Chapo,” will face charges filed in Brooklyn, New York, following his extradition to the United States from Mexico, alleging that he was operating a continuing criminal enterprise and other drug-related crimes through his leadership of the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel.

Acting Attorney General Yates was joined in making the announcement by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Assistant Director In Charge William F. Sweeney of the FBI New York Field Office: U.S. Marshal Charles G. Dunne of the Eastern District of New York U.S. Marshals Service and Commissioner of the New York City Police Department James P. O’Neill.

Guzman Loera, 59, arrived in the United States on Jan. 19, and will be arraigned on a 17-count superseding indictment on Jan. 20, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein in federal court in Brooklyn. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan. Following his extradition to the United States on related charges filed in the Western District of Texas and Southern District of California, the Mexican government approved a request by the United States to proceed with prosecution on the charges filed in the Eastern District of New York on May 11, 2016.

The charges in the indictment filed against Guzman Loera in the Eastern District of New York will be prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Brooklyn and Miami and the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section of the Criminal Division.

The indictment alleges that between January 1989 and December 2014, Guzman Loera led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for importing into the United States and distributing massive amounts of illegal narcotics and conspiring to murder persons who posed a threat to Guzman Loera’s narcotics enterprise.

Guzman Loera is also charged with using firearms in relation to his drug trafficking and money laundering relating to the bulk smuggling from the United States to Mexico of more than $14 billion in cash proceeds from narcotics sales throughout the United States and Canada. As part of this investigation, nearly 200,000 kilograms of cocaine linked to the Sinaloa Cartel have been seized. The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits.

“Guzman Loera is the alleged leader of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national criminal enterprise that funneled drugs onto our streets and violence and misery into our communities,” said Acting Attorney General Yates. “We are deeply grateful to the Government of Mexico for their assistance in securing Guzman Loera’s extradition. The Mexican people have suffered greatly at the hands of Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel; Mexican law enforcement officials have died in the pursuit of him. We will honor their sacrifice and will honor Mexico’s commitment to combat narco-trafficking by pursuing justice in this case.”

“Guzman Loera is accused of using violence, including torture and murder, to maintain an iron-fisted grip on the drug trade across the U.S./Mexico border that invaded our community and others across the country,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “As a result, Guzman Loera made billions of illicit dollars. This prosecution demonstrates that we will apply all available resources to dismantle the leadership of dangerous drug cartels, wherever they operate, and will not rest until we have done so.”

“Guzman Loera is accused of terrorizing communities all over the world,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “With this prosecution we stand united, with our domestic and foreign partners, in our fight against transnational criminal organizations that profit billions of dollars off of the toxic spread of illicit drugs in our global communities. Today’s announcement demonstrates that international borders do not protect narcotics traffickers from criminal prosecution. We will continue to work together to combat narco-trafficking and the cartels that infect our streets, with the long-arm of the law.”

“This extradition is a tremendous victory for the citizens of Mexico and of the United States,” said DEA Acting Administrator Rosenberg. “Two principles stand out: No one is above the law and we simply do not quit in the pursuit of justice.”

“Through investigations led by our offices in New York and Nogales, Arizona, and the coordination efforts of our attaché in Mexico, Homeland Security Investigations gathered significant evidence that is instrumental in the case against Joaquin Guzman Loera in the United States for his alleged crimes as the head of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Edge. “We are pleased to have worked with our federal law enforcement partners to bring about yesterday’s extradition, and look forward to sharing the evidence gathered in this investigation in the criminal proceedings that will follow.”
“One of the most dangerous and feared drug kingpins will now be held accountable for his alleged crimes in the United States after decades of eluding law enforcement,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney. “After years of gathering evidence in multiple investigations, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will do everything we can to bring El Chapo to justice.”

“The U.S. Marshals Service will undertake this mission with the same sense of duty that we have undertaken previous missions for the last 228 years,” said U.S. Marshal Dunne. “We will preserve the integrity of the judicial process. We will protect the members of the Eastern District of New York family. We will secure this individual in a humane manner and we will bring him to court on time.”

As detailed in the superseding indictment and other court filings, Guzman Loera and Ismael Zambada Garcia, as leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, conspired to import more than 200 metric tons of cocaine into the United States. The Sinaloa Cartel shared drug transportation routes and obtained drugs from various Colombian drug trafficking organizations, in particular, the Colombian Norte del Valle Cartel, the Don Lucho Organization, and the Cifuentes-Villa Organization. The cocaine was transported from Colombia via planes, boats, and submarines into ports the enterprise controlled in Southern Mexico and other locations throughout Central America. From there, it was shipped through Mexico to distribution hubs in the United States.

As one of the principal leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman Loera allegedly also oversaw the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana smuggling activities by the Sinaloa Cartel to wholesale distributors in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, as well as in various locations in Arizona, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The billions of dollars generated from drug sales in the United States were then clandestinely transported back to Mexico.

To evade law enforcement and protect the enterprise’s narcotics distribution activities, Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel allegedly employed various means including the use of “sicarios,” or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence in Mexico, including murder, to collect drug debts, silence potential witnesses, and prevent public officials from taking action against the cartel. To intimidate and eliminate his rivals, during the Sinaloa Cartel’s internecine war for territory with the Juarez Cartel from approximately 2007 through 2011, Guzman Loera directed these assassins to kill thousands of drug trafficking competitors, during which many of his victims were beheaded.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea Goldbarg, Hiral Mehta, Patricia Notopoulos, Gina Parlovecchio and Michael Robotti from the Eastern District of New York; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fels, Lynn Kirkpatrick and Kurt Lunkenheimer from the Southern District of Florida; and Trial Attorneys Amanda Liskamm, Anthony Nardozzi and Michael Lang of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.

The case was investigated by the DEA, ICE and the FBI, in cooperation with Mexican and Colombian law enforcement authorities. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, the Western District of Texas, the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of California, and the District of New Hampshire. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in bringing Guzman Loera to the United States to face charges. The investigative efforts in this case were coordinated with the Department of Justice’s Special Operations Division, comprising agents, analysts, and attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, DEA, FBI, ICE, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and the New York State Police.

The United States would like to extend its appreciation to the Government of Mexico and, in particular, President Enrique Peña Nieto, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso and Attorney General Raul Cervantes Andrade for their assistance in this case.

This case is also the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

An indictment is a formal charging document notifying the defendant of the charges. All persons charged in an indictment are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Guzman faces a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment, if convicted of the continuing criminal enterprise charge, and a maximum sentence of life on the remaining charges.