NYC Terror Incident Typical of Suicide Attack Failures

There never has been a successful suicide bombing on U.S. soil. Since 9/11, there has only been a single suicide attack in the U.S., a domestic act of terror involving an airplane that did not involve warped religious beliefs.

As many New Yorkers expressed relief at the relatively minor impact of the latest terror attack on their city, experts said that both suicide attacks and those that attempt to hide homemade bombs in public places are rarely successful, reports the Christian Science Monitor.  Only three people sustained minor injuries from the crude, homemade pipe bomb assembled by Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi immigrant who lived in Brooklyn for seven years and carried out Monday’s failed attack. There never has been a successful suicide bombing on U.S. soil. Since 9/11, there has only been a single suicide attack in the U.S., a domestic act of terror that did not involve warped religious beliefs. In 2010, Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately flew his single-engine plane into an Internal Revenue Service office in Austin, citing the “greed” and “insanity” of tax collectors. His suicide attack killed one IRS worker and injured 13.

The kind of bombs used by Ullah “aren’t really sophisticated, and they often fail,” says political scientist Don Haider-Markel of the University of Kansas, a terrorism expert. “And most of the failures you don’t even hear about, because they’re usually when somebody makes one and puts it into someone’s mailbox, or puts it in front of someone’s door – maybe it happens in Iowa somewhere, and it never makes national news.” In 2013, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev built two homemade bombs and planted them near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds. Most others were unsuccessful. Still, the attempted attack in New York comes as suicide attacks around the globe have reached record levels. The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel found that 2016 was the deadliest year on record for suicide terror attacks worldwide. Nearly 500 attacks in 28 countries that killed about 5,650 people.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NY Terror Suspect’s Actions Baffle Acquaintances

Authorities say Akayed Ullah, 27, set off a bomb in retaliation for American airstrikes in Syria and elsewhere, targeting members of the Islamic State. He said he had been radicalized online and had made a number of trips overseas in the past five years.

Akayed Ullah seemed an ordinary member of a Bangladeshi enclave in Brooklyn. He often prayed at a mosque in the Kensington neighborhood, where a few thousand of his countrymen reside. He worked for a car service. On Monday morning, Ullah, 27, strapped a pipe bomb to his body and set out to detonate it in a Times Square subway station, causing chaos among commuters and leaving what the New York Times calls “a trail of mystery that baffled those who knew him.” “He was a good guy,” said Mohammad Yousuf, a cabdriver who prayed with Ullah. “I can’t believe he would do anything like this.” Law enforcement officials quoted Ullah as saying that he set off the bomb in retaliation for American airstrikes in Syria and elsewhere, targeting members of the Islamic State. He said he had been radicalized online and had made a number of trips overseas in the past five years.

Ullah looked up online how to build the bomb and assembled it in his residence, purchasing all of the materials except the pipe, which he found at a job site where he was working as an electrician. Ullah lived in Brooklyn’s Flatlands neighborhood for seven years. On Sunday night, a neighbor said, a tenant heard the sounds of “big fighting” from Ullah’s house. Kensington is home to more than 3,000 Bangladeshi-born New Yorkers, making it the largest Bangladeshi enclave in Brooklyn. Mian Quadry, a representative of the Bangladesh Muslim Center in Kensington who did not know Ullah, said, “This is not what and who we are.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Suspect in NYC Subway Explosion ‘Made Bomb at Workplace:’ Police

The NYPD said the suspect, Akayed Ullah, was inspired by ISIS but did not appear to have direct contact with group. “Thank God, (he) did not achieve his ultimate goals,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a morning press conference.

A man with a crude pipe bomb strapped to his body set off the device in a subway near Times Square on Monday, injuring the suspect and three other people at the height of the morning rush hour, the Associated Press reports. The man and three others were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries in what the mayor and police labeled an attempted terror attack.

The suspect was identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. Law enforcement officials said he was inspired by the Islamic State group but had apparently not had any direct contact with the group.

A law enforcement official told CNN that the suspect, who lives in Brooklyn, apparently made the bomb at his workplace.

The explosion happened in an underground passageway under 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The 7:30 a.m. blast caused smoke to fill the passageway, which was crowded with throngs of Monday morning commuters.

In a press conference Monday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill labeled it an attempted terror attack.

“Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals,” de Blasio said.

The officials said he lives in Brooklyn and may be of Bangladeshi descent. Authorities said the bomb was a low-tech explosive device attached to the man with Velcro and plastic ties. The explosion triggered a massive emergency response by police and firefighters both above and below ground, tangling subway and bus service at the nearby Port Authority bus terminal.

At the press conference, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo described it as a “low-tech device” and said the incident was “handled extraordinarily well” by police.

“The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom,” said Cuomo. “We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, and that makes us an international target, and we understand that.

“With the internet now, anyone can go on the internet and download garbage and vileness on how to put together an amateur level explosive device, and that is the reality that we live with.”

“The counter reality is that this is New York, and we all pitch together, and we are a savvy people, and we keep our eyes open—and that’s what ‘see something, say something’ is all about—and we have the best law enforcement on the globe.”

Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, speaking earlier on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said preliminary information suggests the man “was setting the device off in the name of ISIS, so definitely a terrorist attack, definitely intended.” The man has been in the country for about seven years, Bratton said.

TCR news interns Megan Hadley and Brian Edsall contributed to coverage of this story.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Britain May Have Missed Intel Before Manchester Attack

A suicide attack at a concert given by pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England, in May might have been foiled had British investigators grasped the importance of “highly relevant” intelligence that reached their desks, says a new government-commissioned report.

A suicide attack at a concert given by pop star Ariana Grande in Manchester, England, in May might have been foiled had British investigators grasped the importance of “highly relevant” intelligence that reached their desks, says a new government-commissioned report quoted by the Washington Post. “It is conceivable that the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently,” the review said. It noted that the bomber, Salman Abedi, 22, had been a “subject of interest” but was not under active investigation at the time of the attack. Abedi was born and raised in Manchester. He had traveled to and from Libya in the days before he struck at Manchester Arena, killing 22 people and wounding more than 100.

The suicide bombing was one of four terrorist attacks in Britain this year studied by David Anderson, a former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. He was allowed to examine nine classified internal reviews, totaling 1,150 pages, that were conducted by counterterrorism police and the domestic intelligence service MI5. Anderson said authorities might have missed important intelligence in the Manchester case. He noted, “Attacks continue to be successfully disrupted, often after intensive and painstaking work, with successful prosecutions and long prison sentences a regular occurrence.” Anderson was briefed on 20 recently thwarted plots. Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, said counterterrorism forces are “running well over 500 live operations — a third up since the beginning of the year — involving roughly 3,000 subjects of interest.” In general, Anderson said, “In an increasingly high-volume business, where success and failure depend on tiny margins, there will almost certainly be future cases in which these recommendations will tip the balance in favor of the security forces.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Libyan Convicted of Terrorism In 2012 Benghazi Attack

Jury finds Ahmed Abu Khatallah guilty of terrorism charges but acquits him of murder. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christoper Stevens, were killed in the attack.

A Libyan man accused of taking part in the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, was found guilty of four charges Tuesday but acquitted of murder, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ahmed Abu Khatallah, 46, was found guilty of conspiring to provide material support and providing material support to terrorists, as well as destructive acts against the mission and possession of a semiautomatic firearm. He was found not guilty of more serious charges, including the murder of an internationally protected person and four counts of killing someone during an attack on a U.S. facility involving dangerous weapons.

The trial took place in federal court in Washington, D.C. Khatallah was captured in 2014 in Benghazi by U.S. Special Forces and FBI agents and brought to the U.S. to face 18 federal charges related to the attack that claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Federal prosecutors accused him of being the ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. They cast him as a terrorist driven by his hatred of Americans. Defense lawyers said prosecutors had failed to prove that Khatallah had helped plan or participate in the attacks, and accused the U.S. government of presenting evidence in a way that would lead jurors to be suspicious of Khatallah because of his religious and political beliefs.

from https://thecrimereport.org

FL Synagogue Bomb-Plotter Sentenced to 25 Years

James Gonzalo Medina, 41, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in South Florida. A federal judge ordered him to undergo mental treatment while serving his sentence.

A Hollywood, Fla., man who pleaded guilty to trying to blow up a South Florida synagogue suffers from such acute psychosis due to a cyst in his brain that he will be placed in a U.S. prison’s medical facility while serving at least 25 years, a federal judge in Miami ruled Tuesday. James Gonzalo Medina, 41, who was arrested last year on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, will be treated and then likely placed in a general prison population, reports the Miami Herald. “This is a very, very serious offense,” Scola said, noting that without the FBI’s “intervention,” many Jewish people at the synagogue could have died as a result of Medina’s bomb threat.

The actual bomb — sold to Medina in Hallandale Beach by an FBI undercover operative just before the planned terror attack — was a dummy, authorities said. During Tuesday’s hearing, Medina, who has a previous criminal history, urged the judge to place him in a U.S. prison’s medical facility so neurological experts can evaluate and treat his brain condition. “I just need help,” Medina said. Medina said he became a Muslim and lost his wife and children before he carried out the bomb plot. “I lost my mind,” he said. “I lashed out.” During an earlier plea hearing in Miami, Medina seemed reluctant to accept responsibility for the planned synagogue terror attack, suggesting he was “manipulated” by a federal confidential informant and an FBI undercover employee. But when questioned repeatedly by Scola, Medina admitted he was guilty of plotting the bombing to kill innocent Jewish people.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Police Anti-Terror Training Gets a New Boost

The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program (SLATT) will keep running and be retooled during the Trump administration despite an earlier announcement that it would end on September 30.

A U.S. Department of Justice program to train state and local police officers how to fight terrorism will continue indefinitely, despite an earlier announcement that it would shut down this past September.

The program is called the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training Program, or SLATT, and its declared mission is to provide “critical training and resources to our nation’s law enforcement, who face the challenges presented by the terrorist/violent criminal extremist threat.”

In July, The Crime Report said that the popular program was due to end on September 30. Congress had failed for three years to provide funds for it, but the Obama Justice Department had found money to keep it alive.

The Trump administration didn’t request funding for SLATT, even though President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been strong supporters of law enforcement and have spoken out forcefully against terrorism.

Now it turns out that the DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance, which has overseen SLATT since it was launched back in 1996, is determined to keep it operating, with Trump administration backing.

By Washington, D.C., standards, SLATT is a small program, commanding only about $1 million a year. Justice Department officials say they are able to find funds for it in a fairly large pot of money called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, usually known by its key initials JAG.

Over the years, SLATT has spent more than $45 million training more than 146,700 law enforcement professionals. It also has funded a “Train-the-Trainer Workshop” that has taught about 3,500 law enforcement trainers, who in turn have provided instruction to about 270,000 more law enforcement officers.

The job of running SLATT has been contracted to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IRR), a Tallahassee, Florida-based firm headed by Rick Gregory, a former police chief in Utah and Delaware.

Because of the funding uncertainties, SLATT will be offered on a curtailed basis during what DOJ is calling the current “bridge year” until it it resumes at full strength next October.

In the past, local police officers have been offered a two-and-one-half day training session covering such topics as terrorism ideologies, dealing with domestic terrorists including “sovereign citizens” and anarchists, international terrorism, and intelligence and information sharing among law enforcement agencies.

For the next few months, SLATT will be taught to local police in a shortened one-day form.

Probably by early next year, the Justice Department will post a notice offering any training provider the chance to bid on the opportunity to run SLATT.

DOJ will seek a revised curriculum that will make more use of FBI training materials than the current course does.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the nation’s largest group of police managers, is enthusiastic about SLATT’s continuation. IACP says that although large police departments like New York City and Los Angeles have the capacity to train their own officers about terrorism, there are about 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the U.S., most of which have two dozen employees or fewer and cannot provide such specialized training.

If SLATT is so popular and fighting terrorism is such a major federal cause, why is there so little formal support for it in the capital?

The Trump administration has been in office less than a year, and hasn’t gotten around to naming a director for the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and many other federal agencies.

As for Congress, it has managed to keep the federal government going only by means of a “continuing resolution” that expires on December 8.

Money for the Justice Department is combined in a fund that includes the Commerce Department and science agencies like NASA.

The Senate and House committees that deal with those units have about $54 billion to spend this year, meaning that it is easy for a program like SLATT to get lost in the shuffle.

Those interested in following SLATT’s progress in the future can check its website.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau chief of The Crime Report. Comments welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

ISIS Claims Responsibility for NYC Truck Attack

The terrorist group referred to Uzbekistan national Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a “soldier of the Caliphate.” Investigators believe Saipov most likely acted alone when he planned and carried out Tuesday’s carnage that also wounded 12. He appears to have been heavily influenced by the group’s ideology and methods.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the truck rampage in New York City that left eight people dead. It did not provide any evidence for the claim, USA Today reports. The terrorist group referred to the suspected attacker, Uzbekistan national Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a “soldier of the Caliphate.” The comments were published in the group’s weekly al-Naba newspaper. Investigators believe Saipov most likely acted alone when he planned and carried out Tuesday’s carnage that also wounded 12. He appears to have been heavily influenced by the group’s ideology and methods.

The Islamic State has repeatedly urged its followers to use vehicles in terrorist attacks. Authorities said Saipov meticulously planned the assault and left notes proclaiming that the “Islamic State would endure forever.” Scores of Islamic State propaganda videos were found on his phones. Saipov is being held without bail. He did not enter a plea to terror charges. He was shot by police after the attack but is expected to survive. Saipov told investigators after his capture that he “felt good” about what he had done, even asking to hang an Islamic State flag in his hospital room. Neighbors in the U.S. and Uzbekistan have described Saipov as calm, quiet and mysterious. He is married with three children. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saipov was “radicalized domestically,” a scenario investigators are probing.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NYC Terrorist Planned for Year, Chose Halloween

Charges were filed in civilian court, not the military system set up for foreign terrorists, a decision that flew in the face of President Trump’s broadsides against the criminal justice system. 

Federal prosecutors filed charges accusing the driver in the Manhattan truck attack of carrying out a long-planned plot, spurred by Islamic State propaganda videos, to kill people celebrating Halloween. The charges describe driver Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a voracious consumer and meticulous student of ISIS propaganda, and detail how he said he was prompted to attack by an ISIS video questioning the killing of Muslims in Iraq. They say he began planning the attack about a year ago and, after taking a test run in a Home Depot rental truck last week, chose Halloween to carry it out because more people would be on the streets, the New York Times reports. The charges were filed in civilian court, and not the military system set up for foreign terrorists, a decision that flew in the face of Trump’s broadsides against the criminal justice system.

Saipov, accused of killing eight people and injuring 12 in the attack, was pushed into a Manhattan federal courtroom in a wheelchair just after 6 p.m. on Wednesday. one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle causing death. One charge involving destruction of a vehicle carries the possibility of the death penalty, raising the prospect of a rare capital case being brought to trial in New York. The FBI found a second Uzbek man in connection with the attack, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32. Authorities questioned  Saipov after he waived his Miranda rights at a hospital. They were also questioning Mr. Saipov’s wife, Nozima Odilova, who was cooperating. The couple live in Paterson, N.J., and have three children.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S. Terrorism Cases Actually Proceed Quickly

“The U.S. has higher conviction rates and higher sentences for terrorism charges than the U.K., Australia or Canada,” said Kent Roach of the University of Toronto.

Despite President Trump’s comment that the U.S. criminal justice system as “a laughingstock” too weak to deter terrorism and too slow to mete out punishment, experts said the U.S. is tougher on terrorism than most other nations, and they called Trump’s claim that extremists who launch attacks on American soil “go through court for years” an exaggeration, the New York Times reports. Attackers in deadly terrorism plots in the U.S. are “rarely caught alive,” said Karen Greenberg of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law. The attackers were killed in deadly shootings believed to be inspired by Islamic extremists in 2002 at Los Angeles International Airport; in 2015 in Chattanooga, and in San Bernardino, Ca.; and in 2016 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fl. Suspects who do survive their attacks have been dealt with swiftly and severely in federal courts.

From Sept. 11, 2001 through 2015, the Justice Department reported 627 terrorism-related convictions. In most cases, convictions were brought within two years after indictments were issued. Many of those that took longer involved extraditing suspects to the U.S. from abroad. “My impression is that the U.S. has higher conviction rates and higher sentences for terrorism charges than the U.K., Australia or Canada,” said Kent Roach of the University of Toronto. “I cannot think of another country, except perhaps China, that would have higher convictions and longer sentences in terrorism cases than the United States.” About 87 percent of resolved terrorism cases in the decade after the 2001 attacks resulted in convictions, with an average sentence of 14 years in prison, said the Center on Law and Security at New York University. On Thursday, the president backed off the idea of sending Saipov to Guantánamo Bay because that process could take longer than the civilian court system.

from https://thecrimereport.org