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American Authorities suspect Terror Networks already present in US

The officials believe that networks are definitely broader, thicker and far more interconnected than they have ever seen before

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Terror
via flikr

After years of undercover work, the U.S. is starting to pull back the veil on what appear to be loose-knit, perhaps deeply rooted networks of would-be terrorists who support each other even as many prepare to act alone.

Heightening the concern, these complex webs of connections and support seem to span several years and often cut across the ideological lines that delineate one terror group from another.

“Increasingly, the FBI’s had a lot of these,” according to a law enforcement official familiar with one of the most recent cases. “I think it is going on nationally.”

The official, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, also said it was clear that “a lot of this predated ISIL,” using an acronym for the Islamic State terror group.Concern has reached all the way to the White House. After a meeting with national security officials late Thursday at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama said, “It’s conceivable that there are some networks here [in the U.S.] that could be activated.”

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“We have to do a better job of disrupting networks,” he added.

Yet former counterterror officials warn that doing so promises to be difficult, because what holds these networks together cannot be undone simply by trying to dismantle a single terror group.

“The differences between al-Nusra and ISIS [Islamic State] and al-Qaida and al-Shabab, for the regular people, it’s a distinction without a difference,” said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. “What’s really underlying it is the ideological underpinnings that drive these people.”

In many cases, researchers say, for the members of these groups, it comes down to a willingness to embrace violence to fill holes or gaps in their lives.

“If ISIS is eliminated tomorrow and moves on, there are going to be other groups that pop up, and these individuals are already primed,” said Hughes, who previously worked at the National Counterterrorism Center. “They’ll latch onto the next foreign terrorist organisation.”

Connections to Nicholas Young. Image source: VOA
Connections to Nicholas Young. Image source: VOA

Perhaps no case illustrates the dangers as much as that of Nicholas Young, 36, a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit police officer from Fairfax, Virginia, arrested this past week for trying to help Islamic State acquire mobile messaging accounts for use in recruiting new members.

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The arrest appeared to be the culmination of years of undercover work that most likely began in late 2010 when FBI agents interviewed Young about an acquaintance.

“Six years is a very long time for an active FBI investigation,” Hughes said. “They were clearly concerned.”

According to an FBI affidavit, the acquaintance in question was Zachary Chesser, who had been arrested earlier in 2010 after trying to travel to Somalia to join the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab terror group.

Young told investigators he was shocked by the charges and that it would be his religious and personal duty to have told someone if he suspected Chesser of any terror-related activity.But something got the FBI’s attention, and investigators kept him in their sights.

“From the law enforcement perspective, the hope is that if you follow this individual, he lights up the system and you get to see if there are any networks you need to be worried about,” Hughes said.

It would seem Young “lit up” the system.By January 2012, Young was in regular contact with an undercover law enforcement officer.

That March, the undercover officer reported on a meeting with Young and two other men to discuss “the fundamentals of marksmanship.”One of the two other men then joined the undercover officer and Young at a restaurant for the first of what were to be several shared meals over the coming months. They talked about jihad, martyrdom and evading authorities.

Both men at the March meeting would later be arrested on the same day, February 17, 2012.One of them, who was not named in court documents, was arrested on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The other man, Amine El-Khalifi of Alexandria, Virginia, was arrested in a sting operation as he attempted to carry out a shooting and suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol in the name of al-Qaida.Even after those arrests, investigators continued to watch Young, who confided he had twice travelled to Libya a year earlier to fight with the Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade, an al-Qaida-linked group trying to overthrow then-Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

By 2014, Young was expressing growing admiration for the Islamic State, advising an FBI informant on how to reach the terror group. Thinking the informant had successfully joined the ranks of IS, Young tried to send him the mobile messaging gift cards just last month. That act led to his arrest.

Law enforcement officials refuse to say whether the six-year investigation of the former Metro Transit officer will yield more arrests, but a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Washington field office said it is likely that more cases are on the way.

“Because of the national significance of Washington, D.C., and the vast number of potential geographic and human targets, northern Virginia and the surrounding area are likely to continue to experience arrests of individuals who have provided material support to designated terrorist organisations,” said the FBI’s Lindsay Ram.

Ten people have been arrested in Virginia on terror-related charges since March 2014, according to Hughes of the George Washington University extremism program. Only New York (18) and Minnesota (13) have seen more terror-related arrests in that period of time.

“A lot of these cases have to do with in-person … recruitment or radicalization, where they reinforce each other,” Hughes said.

Connections to Erick Jamal Hendricks. Image source: VOA
Connections to Erick Jamal Hendricks. Image source: VOA

Still, law enforcement officials warn against underestimating the power of social media, as evidenced in Thursday’s arrest of Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, of Charlotte, North Carolina, charged with trying to recruit members for an IS sleeper cell — a group of willing terrorists who remain inactive and out of sight until they are called upon to join a plot.

Court documents show the FBI was able to link Hendricks through social media to several other U.S.-based IS followers.One of them, Amir Said Rahman Al-Ghazi, 38, was arrested in June 2015 after trying to buy an AK-47 assault rifle from an undercover agent.Another, Elton Simpson, was killed in May 2015 along with Nadir Hamid Soofi, when the two tried to attack an event in Garland, Texas, where amateur cartoonists were drawing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

The FBI says Hendricks had been in touch with Simpson via social media about a week prior to the Texas attack and even connected Simpson with an undercover FBI agent who was in Garland at the time.

For Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, evidence that Hendricks and Simpson knew each on social media is especially worrisome.

“One thing that we know is that Junaid Hussain, who was functioning as an external operations connector/official for the Islamic State, was in touch with Elton Simpson,” Gartenstein-Ross said. “Rather than [contact between Simpson and Hendricks] being informal, there may have been a formal ISIL hand in helping to connect these disparate individuals together.”

Some of Hendrick’s claims may lend additional credence to those concerns.

During a conversation on social media in April 2015, Hendricks told an undercover FBI agent he was in contact with “senior people.”

“Does the head give orders?” the agent then asked.

“Only advice,” Hendricks replied.

“And connect ppl (people) to form groups,” Hendricks added, breaking up the word “groups” as he did with other words he feared would draw the attention of law enforcement.

“The networks are definitely broader, they’re definitely thicker and they’re definitely more interconnected than we’ve ever seen before,” Gartenstein-Ross said.

Another concern stemming from the arrests of Nicholas Young and Erick Jamal Henderson is that despite arrests, disruptions and the watchful eye of law enforcement, the loose-knit terror networks seem to be able to sustain themselves — and, in some cases, even outlive the terror groups that helped spark their creation.

“The adaptability of the threat moves faster than the state can keep up with it,” cautioned Mubin Shaikh, an expert who has worked with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (VOA)

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Is Islamic inequality a conspiracy against the God?

Islam was conducted in a sense it was never meant to be

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Muslims
An eternal religion like Islam is always targeted for its preachings. Wikimedia Commons

Religion was the purest creation by humans to guide them to a better life, but it is clear that religion is being misused by many to create chaos and misery.

Islam, which is the World’s second largest religion, has become to symolize as the largest religion of devastation. A religion that believes that there is only ‘One God’ and that is their God, has now come to stand for turbulence and violence.

Historically too, Islam has always been linked with ‘terrorism’, but what gave rise to this scenario? The synopsis of this situation is not the right interpretation of ‘Quran’. The term ‘Jihad’ which literally means ‘to strive for the betterment of society’ has been deceitfully presented which leads to production of terrorists like Kasab (he quoted it in his letter to his family). The greed for 72 virgin women, which is just a story, makes them a ‘person of mass destruction. ‘ In the name of God, some ‘juvenile’ people choose the path which they are not familiar with.’

Islamic Terrorism
It is often stated that most of the ‘Terrorists’ are Muslims.Wikimedia Commons

A religion should always teach and preach about equality but Islam surely fails when it comes to their women. They are not so privileged as men are in an Islamic society. Why is it so? Does religion discriminate between two on the basis of gender? Why a Muslim man is taught to think about 72 virgin women but a Muslim woman is told to consider one man as her god? Why a man has a right to marry thrice but a woman is allowed to marry just once?

Islamic scholar Imam Tawhidi’s tweet raised a question on the fairness of the Islamic religion.

The disparity is not limited here. A woman who leaves her home, her parents, her career and even her surname; a woman who makes a home a home; a woman who sacrifices her everything for a man; is the one who is out thrown from her own home just by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq, Talaq’. Is a relation between a husband and wife established on these three words? Why only Muslim men favoured with such power?

Culture of Hijab
Women are meant to cover their full body in Islam. Wikimedia Commons

The word ḥijāb in the Quran refers not to women’s clothing, but rather a spatial partition or curtain. However, the preachers of Islam say that women should get all her parts covered by confidently stating that it is mandated in the Holy Quran. Yet another example of inequality on the basis of gender but the compelling truth is that these customs and thesis are created by the human itself and not Islam. This is how Islam is misused to spread fallacious beliefs among the people and making their life miserable.

Does Islam need to reform? Or do preachers of Islam need to introspect and reform?

– Sumit Buchasia of NewsGram. Twitter @sumit_buchasia

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)

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New York terror attack: 8 dead, suspect in custody (Third Lead)

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New York, 1st November’2017: At least eight persons have been killed and 12 seriously injured in New York after a driver of a truck mowed down people on a cycle path in Lower Manhattan in US.

The attack happened on Tuesday, when the city was celebrating Halloween, one of the most festive days in the New York calendar.

The pavements were crowded with kids in costumes and there were still children trick-or-treating just yards away, the BBC reported.

The spot is also just yards away from Ground Zero, a site which reminds all New Yorkers of the 9/11 attack in 2001. It did not take police long to confirm that the city had once again been the target of terror.

Five of these victims were Argentine nationals, Efe news quoted a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires as saying.

The 29-year-old man who emerged from the white pick-up truck was shot by a police officer and arrested.

The media named him as Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who came to the US in 2010 and settled in Florida, a CNN report said.

A note was found in the truck that referred to the Islamic State (IS), a law enforcement source told CBS News.

Around 3.05 p.m., Saipov drove a truck onto the West Side Highway bike path.

The truck entered near Houston Street. It was a rental from Home Depot, the home improvement chain said.

The driver continued down the path, hitting bicyclists and pedestrians.

Further down the path, the truck collided with a school bus at Chambers Street.

After the collision, the driver exited the truck with a pellet gun and a paintball gun. Witnesses said the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar”, law enforcement sources told CNN.

A note found in the truck claimed the attack was carried out in the name of IS, a senior law enforcement official confirmed to CNN. The note was in English.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians”.

de Blasio added: “We know that this action was intended to break our spirit. But we also know that New Yorkers are strong, New Yorkers are resilient and our spirit will never be moved by an act of violence and an act meant to intimidate us.”

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!”

Former US President Barack Obama tweeted: “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims of today’s attack in NYC and everyone who keeps us safe. New Yorkers are as tough as they come.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condemned the attack in a tweet: “Strongly condemn the terror attack in New York City. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and prayers with those injured.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled by the cowardly attack”. “My thoughts are with all affected,” she said.

“Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism” and the “UK stands with NYC”, Xinhua news agency quoted May as saying.

Five of the eight killed in the attack were identified as Argentine nationals, who were celebrating their 30th graduation anniversary at the Argentine Polytechnic School of Rosario, Efe news reported.

The statement released by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, identified the five as Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi.

The New York authorities said that it was a lone wolf attack. It was not part of a wider conspiracy or plot, BBC reported. But this is an active crime scene at the moment. They are still trying to piece together precisely what happened.(IANS)