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David Headley mess: Why FBI needs to pull its socks up

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

A report published recently has concluded that FBI even after being a top notch crime fighting organizations needs to pull up its socks. It needs faster reforms to transform itself into a threat-based, intelligence-driven organization.

In the 26/11 terror assault on Mumbai, Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was left free by FBI.  The report noted that Headley had previously come to the attention of US law enforcement authorities but FBI officials repeatedly concluded that Headley did not pose a threat at the time.

In December 2007, Headley’s Moroccan wife accepted to US officials at the US embassy in Islamabad that her husband was a terrorist. But the FBI investigation did not start until 2009.

“One of the main lessons from the Headley case is that absent an intelligence effort across the US Intelligence Community to understand the connections among cases and complaints across field offices, relevant intelligence may fall by the wayside,” report said.

Headley had previously worked as a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informant in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, following two heroin trafficking arrests.

“The Headley case raises the important question faced by all intelligence agencies – certainly important to the FBI – of how to scan and assess voluminous amounts of collected information strategically and identifying valuable intelligence leads,” the report said.

“Still, more than a decade after 9/11, the FBI must prioritize empowering and equipping its analytic cadre to make these connections with cutting edge technology, to minimize the risk of the FBI missing important intelligence information,” it said.

In the Headley case, it was the effort of an analyst who was able to connect him to an ongoing plot in Denmark. The report noted, “he conducted his activities with all the skills of a trained intelligence operative-able to travel to and from the United States, Pakistan, and India with relative ease and eluding authorities.”

The FBI had no information on Headley’s connections to Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) until they were provided with clue later in 2009. In Chicago, National Security Letters helped the FBI track David Headley and better understand his involvement in the Copenhagen plot directed by Ilyas Kashmiri, Al Qaeda’s chief of external operations and the head of the Pakistani extremist organization, Harakat ul Jihad al Islami.

 

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US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

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Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

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Texas Mass Shooting: ‘It isn’t a guns situation, but a mental problem’, Says Trump

An eyewitness to the shootings, who is a Vietnam War vet, told VOA's Mehtap Colak Yilmaz that he had not seen anything like the church massacre "since Vietnam."

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, not pictured, at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg(VOA)

White House, November 6, 2017 : A man opened fire with an assault weapon at a church near San Antonio, Texas, Sunday morning, killing 26 worshippers and wounding at least 20.

The victims range from five to 72 years old.

The gunman is also dead and there is no clue so far as to his motive.

Federal investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms have joined local law enforcement officers in tiny Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 50 kilometers from San Antonio.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump said the mass shooting “isn’t a guns situation” but is instead “a mental health problem at the highest level. It’s a very, very sad event.” He said the shooter was “a very deranged individual.” The president is monitoring the situation from Japan, the first stop on his five-nation Asian trip.

Earlier, Trump called the shootings “an act of evil” and appealed for prayers. He ordered U.S. flags on federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through Thursday.

“We cannot put into words, the pain and grief we all feel and we cannot begin to imagine the suffering of those who lost the ones they so dearly loved. Our hearts are broken,” the president said.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott says this is worst mass shooting in Texas history. He said there are “many pieces of a complex puzzle” to put together.

Texas
Members of the Wilson County Sheriff’s office stand inside a taped off area near the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 5, 2017. VOA

What is known, according to Texas public safety official Freeman Martin, is that the gunman, later identified as Devin P. Kelley, was described as a young white male dressed in black and wearing a bullet-proof vest. He first opened fire with an assault rifle outside the First Baptist Church and continued shooting after going inside.

Freeman said a local resident with his own rifle confronted the shooter, causing the gunman to drop his weapon and flee in his car. The citizen pursued the gunman, joined shortly by police. Freeman said the suspect crashed the car just over the county line and was found dead in the vehicle from a gunshot wound. It is unclear if he killed himself or was shot by the citizen.

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt says police found multiple weapons in the suspect’s car.

U.S. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told VOA late Sunday that records show Kelley was discharged from the Air Force about three years ago: “Records checks confirm Devin P. Kelley was previously a USAF member, who served in Logistics Readiness at Holloman AFB, NM, from 2010 until his discharge in 2014. Kelley was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of Article 128 UCMJ ((EDS: Uniform code of Military Justice)) — assault on his spouse and assault on their child. Kelley received a Bad Conduct Discharge, confinement for twelve months and a reduction to the grade of E-1.”

ALSO READ 26 people killed as a Shooter opens fire in a Church in Texas

Two of the victims were killed outside the church. The rest were shot inside.

An eyewitness to the shootings, who is a Vietnam War vet, told VOA’s Mehtap Colak Yilmaz that he had not seen anything like the church massacre “since Vietnam.”

Marie Ann Montgomery, the church’s Sunday school director, told VOA’s Yilmaz that people in the congregation knew Kelley and some of the suspect’s family members were among the victims. Montgomery stopped short, however, of saying the suspect deliberately targeted his family.

While none of the victims have been publicly identified, First Baptist Church Pastor Frank Pomeroy told U.S. news networks that his 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle Renee Pomeroy, is among the deceased.

Pomeroy was in Oklahoma at the time of the shooting. He told ABC News he was on his way back to Sutherland Springs.

Sutherland Springs, Texas on the map. VOA

​He said all of the people killed Sunday were close friends. Pomeroy also said he wants the world to know his daughter “was one very beautiful special child.”

Sheriff Tackitt says the church posts its weekly services on YouTube and that the massacre was likely caught on camera. The FBI says it believes only one gunman was involved.

Sunday’s Texas shooting comes just weeks after October’s mass killing in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music show there, killing 58 and wounding about 500. Paddock shot from his 32nd floor hotel room and killed himself as police moved in. Investigators in the Las Vegas shooting are still working to confirm a motive. (VOA)

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At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence: Amitabh Bachchan

This is what Amitabh Bachchan has to say on the notice of BMC.

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan says at 75 he only seeks freedom from prominence, which has seen him face allegations in the Bofors scandal, Panama Papers case and most recently for “illegal construction” on his property.

“At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence… To be left to lead the last few years of my life with and within myself… I do not seek epithets, I abhor them… I do not seek headlines, I do not deserve them/. I do not seek acknowledgment, I am not qualified for it,” Amitabh posted on his blog on Sunday.

Amitabh’s post comes just days after his lawyer denied any illegal construction on the actor’s property in Mumbai’s Goregaon East area in relation to a notice sent by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“The mentioned ‘notices’ have yet to be seen or served to me. But I guess in time it shall come.”

In the lengthy post, Amitabh said when there are accusations, “at times, I would prefer to correct the manner… At times it is prudent to remain quiet”.

But on an issue such as the BMC allegation, he said it’s the “system that shall resolve it, not the media”.

The actor, who has been in the industry for over four decades, also cited past examples, such as what he went through when his family’s name cropped up in the Bofors scandal.

“For years we were grilled, declared traitors, abused and humiliated by the hour for several years…,” he wrote, and further recalled how they moved against a UK paper and won.

He said how after almost 25 years later, their name was cleared in the scandal.

“When the media carried the news here in India, the press during one of its interactions with me asked me what I was going to do about it… Whether I would seek information on who did it or seek retribution.

“What retribution and information will I seek’ Will it take away the years of suffering and mental torture that we went through’ Will it cure… Will it rest’ No, it will not… So I told them, the media, I do not wish to make any comment on it… the matter is over for me.”

Amitabh Bachchan also brought up his mention in the Panama Papers leaks.

“We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.”

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply,” he added.

In the end, he quoted a Jewish joke.

“A Jew passes away and goes to Heaven, knocks on the door of the Lord, and having suffered the ostracized life that the community has, asks the Lord: ‘Lord! Is it true that we are the chosen people” The Lord looked benevolently at the Jew and in a most gentle voice replied: ‘Yes my son .. you are the chosen people’. And the Jew replied: ‘Dear Lord… Would you mind choosing someone else for a change… Coz we’ve had enough!’”

Amitabh Bachchan concluded: “I often wish that for myself.”(IANS)