US faces threat from terror 'next door'
Plots by American-based Islamic terrorists with no direct ties to international terror networks form a large and growing threat to America, according to FBI and other security officials.
"The trend we're seeing is that we are uncovering more instances of people here who have been radicalised ... where there is not a direct thumbprint of Al Qaeda," John Miller, the FBI's assistant director for public affairs, was cited as saying by "USA Today".
Justice Department records show that the FBI and other federal and local agencies have led prosecutions of a dozen such alleged plots since the Sep 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, the daily said on Monday.
The latest began last Tuesday, when five New Jersey Muslim men were charged with plotting to kill soldiers at the Army's Fort Dix, NJ, compound. A sixth man was charged with helping the group obtain illegal firearms. The government has won terrorism convictions in seven cases. Others are ongoing.
The focus on American-based terror cells is a shift from post 9/11 thinking, when intelligence and security officials expected attacks to come from "sleeper cells" of Al Qaeda agents who, like the Washington and New York City attackers, had filtered into the USA from abroad.
"That was my intuition at the time," George Tenet, CIA director from 1997 to 2004, told the daily. Tenet has just released a book, At the Centre of the Storm, about his tenure. Tenet says the lesson is "don't get fixed on a particular face (because) there may be multiple kinds of faces."
USA Today quoted Pasquale D'Amuro, the FBI's counter-terrorism chief in 2002 and 2003, as saying the alleged New Jersey plot appears to be such a case. The six men arrested, he notes, were born in the former Yugoslavia, Jordan and Turkey and had lived in the USA without incident. One was a citizen, two were legal residents and three were here illegally. They had lived here at least six years, neighbours said.
"If they look like the neighbours next door, it's because that's what they are," says D'Amuro, CEO of Giuliani Security and Safety in New York.
"That they would come here, be welcomed and then want to attack us - that's what people have a hard time understanding."
In some cases, such as that of six Yemeni-Americans in Lackawanna, New York, the accused plotters had undergone training at terrorist camps overseas but had not focused on an American target.
In others, such as the New Jersey plot, the government alleges that plotters had identified targets and were trying to purchase arms.
In six cases, accused plotters sought out undercover agents or informers posing as Al Qaeda representatives. In two cases, alleged plotters are accused of swearing allegiance to Al Qaeda in ceremonies staged by the phony Islamists. In eight cases, the accused plotters were native-born Americans, including about a dozen who were converts to Islam.
Intelligence analysts cited by USA Today say the lack of an Al Qaeda-led terror strike here may signal that the group is waiting until it can mount an attack that will equal the 9/11 strikes in casualties and publicity value.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's expected visit to oil rich Saudi Arabia could well be an indication of Xi's' confidence in his re-election as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, which will establish his further grip on power and make him the eternal leader. When asked for confirmation, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday that he had no information to offer, according to Reuters.
Australian capital Canberra's airport was evacuated and a man arrested after gunshots were heard in the main terminal building, police said on Sunday. One person has been taken into custody and a firearm was recovered, the police said in a statement. There have been no reported injuries, it added. Police said CCTV footage has been reviewed and at this time the person in custody is believed to be the only person responsible for the incident.
Bestselling author of the famed Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, on Saturday faced death threats on Twitter following her reaction to the attack on Salman Rushdie in New York. To this, a user commented on her post: “Don't worry you are next”. The user had also replied to her tweet praising the attacker. “To all sending supportive messages: thank you. Police are involved (were already involved on other threats),” she wrote.
A gunman opened fire at a bus near Jerusalem's Old City early Sunday, wounding eight Israelis in a suspected Palestinian attack that came a week after violence flared up between Israel and militants in Gaza, police and medics said. Two of the victims were in serious condition, including a pregnant woman with abdominal injuries and a man with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, according to Israeli hospitals treating them.
North Korea's foreign ministry on Sunday criticised the United Nations Secretary-General's recent comment on U. N. chief Antonio Guterres' supports for the North's complete denuclearisation, calling the remarks lack impartiality and fairness. North Korea's state news agency KCNA released a statement from the foreign ministry after U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Friday said he fully supports efforts to completely denuclearise North Korea when he met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.