FBI Director Says Cyberthreat Will Surpass Threat From Terrorists

February 1, 2012

ABC News on January 31, 2012 released the following:

“Threats from cyber-espionage, computer crime, and attacks on critical infrastructure will surpass terrorism as the number one threat facing the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified today.

Mueller and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, addressing the annual Worldwide Threat hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cited their concerns about cyber-security and noted that China and Russia run robust intrusion operations against key U.S. industries and the government.

“I do not think today it is necessarily [the] number one threat, but it will be tomorrow,” Mueller said. “Counterterrorism — stopping terrorist attacks — with the FBI is the present number one priority. But down the road, the cyberthreat, which cuts across all [FBI] programs, will be the number one threat to the country.”

A report released in November by the National Counterintelligence Executive singled out Russia and China for their aggressive efforts to steal American intellectual property, trade secrets and national security information.

“The cyberthreat is one of the most challenging ones we face,” Clapper said. “Among state actors, we’re particularly concerned about entities within China and Russia conducting intrusions into U.S. computer networks and stealing U.S. data. And the growing role that nonstate actors are playing in cyberspace is a great example of the easy access to potentially disruptive and even lethal technology and know-how by such groups.”

“We foresee a cyber-environment in which emerging technologies are developed and implemented before security responses can be put in place,” Clapper said. U.S. officials estimate that there are 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day.

Last week the computer security firm Symantec released a report on a Trojan horse program dubbed “Sykipot,” which researchers say was traced to computer servers in China and was allegedly targeting firms in the defense industry.

“The Sykipot attackers have a long running history of attacks against multiple industries. Based on these insights, the attackers are familiar with the Chinese language and are using computer resources in China. They are clearly a group of attackers who are constantly modifying their creation to utilize new vulnerabilities and to evade security products and we expect that they will continue their attacks in the future,” Symantec noted in a blog posting.

In the past several years there has been a growing list of complex computer breaches that highlight the wide array of threats the officials were testifying about:
• The high-profile intrusions of Google’s Gmail by China in 2009 also targeted as many as 30 other high-tech companies including Yahoo, Adobe, Rackspace and Northrop Grumman. U.S. officials believe China was attempting to gain access to these firms’ networks to obtain intellectual property and source code information.
• China is also believed to be behind hacking into computer systems run by NASDAQ-OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, and an intrusion last year into computers at the International Monetary Fund.
• Last year RSA, the security division of the EMC Corp., suffered a breach of the firm’s intellectual property, SecureID, which provides encrypted authentication services to defense contractors and the U.S. government, including the FBI. U.S. officials say Chinese entities compromised the RSA SecureID system to try to break into computers used by defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
• In 2007, Russia waged cyber-attacks against computer systems in Estonia and U.S. official have also cited Russia using cyber-capabilities in the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
• Non-state entities such as the computer “hacktivist” group Anonymous have wreaked havoc recently with distributed denial of service attacks against the websites of the Justice Department, Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the FBI. Anonymous also has conducted sophisticated intrusions, breaching the computer systems of government contractor HB Gary, a cyber-security firm, in early 2011 when they downloaded more than 50,000 emails from the firm and posted private information about the CEO on his own Twitter account.

In the next month, Congress is expected to take up debate about pending cyber-security legislation that could possibly give the Department of Homeland Security new authorities to protect critical computer networks. Senators today on the Hill questioned the panel about why they have not done more to move forward on the issue.

“I can tell you that we are exceptionally concerned about that threat,” Mueller said, citing the establishment of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force that brings together the 18 intelligence agencies to work on various cyber threats.

“In the same way we changed to address terrorism, we have to change to address cybercrime.” Mueller said. “And so we have to build up the collective addressing of that threat in the same way that we did so and broke down the walls in the wake of September 11th .””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Robert J. Holley Named Special Agent in Charge of Indianapolis Division

October 17, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on October 17, 2011 released the following:

“Director Robert S. Mueller, III has named Robert J. Holley special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. Mr. Holley most recently served as a section chief in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters, where he was involved in the management of the FBI’s U.S. based international terrorism investigations.

Mr. Holley began his career as a special agent in 1995, and reported to the Chicago Division after graduation from New Agents Training in Quantico, Virginia.

While in Chicago, he was assigned to investigate domestic and international terrorism matters. He also served as a member of the Chicago Division’s SWAT team and a special agent bomb technician. During his time in the division, he was promoted to supervisory special agent and supervised an international terrorism squad.

In November 2005, Mr. Holley was promoted and assigned to FBI Headquarters as a unit chief in the Counterterrorism Division. He was deployed to Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Tanzania, and Israel in support of the FBI’s number one priority, counterterrorism.

Mr. Holley transferred back to the Chicago Division, where he served as assistant special agent in charge of the National Security Branch from 2008-2010.

Prior to his FBI career, he served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer.

Mr. Holley is a native of Indiana. He graduated from Peru High School in 1977, and from Ball State University in 1981. He and his wife Toni have one son, Dakota.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Mohammed K., a Maryland Teen, Arrested by the FBI in Jihad Jane Plot, Sources Say

August 26, 2011

The Philadelphia Inquirer on August 26, 2011 released the following:

“Maryland teen arrested by FBI in Jihad Jane plot, sources say

By John Shiffman
Inquirer Staff Writer

The FBI has secretly arrested a Maryland juvenile who allegedly conspired in a terrorism plot with the Philadelphia-area woman known as Jihad Jane, sources have told The Inquirer.

The boy is 17 but was 15 when he conspired with Colleen LaRose of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, to solicit money and recruits for a jihad, according to documents and sources. His case is sealed in U.S. District Court in Philadephia.

His family emigrated from Pakistan four years ago, and relatives say the boy – Mohammed K., of Ellicott City, Md. – was headed to Johns Hopkins University on a full scholarship this fall. They also say he was questioned by the FBI, without a parent or lawyer present, at least eight times.

“Now we know that was a mistake,” a relative said. “We had thought everything was taken care of and fine because he talked to the FBI so many times – but the next thing you know, a year later, without any warning, the FBI took Mohammed away. It was a shock to us and to him.”

Family members spoke on condition of anonymity. The Inquirer is not publishing the boy’s last name because he is a juvenile and the specific charges have not been made public.

Federal charges against juveniles are rare. Nationally, only 100 juveniles are serving federal sentences, and federal officials could not cite another juvenile who has been arrested on terror-related charges.

Mohammed’s arrest came six months after LaRose, who called herself “Jihad Jane” on websites, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, including providing a U.S. passport, and lying to FBI agents about it. A coconspirator, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Leadville, Colo., pleaded guilty to providing material aid to terrorists.

U.S. counterterrorism officials have said the Jihad Jane case represents a new and alarming threat – suburban, American-born women aiding Islamic terror groups.

Prosecutors said LaRose worked obsessively on her computer “to communicate with, recruit, and incite other jihadists.” In 2009, she agreed to help try to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilk, whose 2007 drawing of a dog with the head of the prophet Muhammad offended some Muslims.

Mohammed K.’s relatives said they do not know much about the allegations – or what Mohammed told the FBI – but are confused and angry that they allowed the boy to spend so much time with agents.

“When they said, ‘Can we take him out for a few hours?’ it seemed so informal,” one relative said. “And now, in a way, we feel cheated.”

FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver and other federal officials declined to comment.

Mohammed’s court-appointed lawyer, Jeffrey Lindy of Philadelphia, said, “This is a juvenile matter and is confidential, so it would be inappropriate to comment.” Mark Wilson, a federal public defender representing LaRose, also declined to comment.

LaRose traveled to Ireland in September 2009 to meet several coconspirators. She offered to use her U.S. identity and her boyfriend’s passport, and to marry a jihadist to help with the terror plot, officials said. The plot fizzled for reasons that have not been made public.

The FBI believes that Mohammed was part of the conspiracy, and that he met LaRose in a jihadist chatroom, sources said.

The only people publicly charged in the United States are LaRose and Ramirez. The other alleged coconspirators – including Mohammed and the Irish suspects – are cited in the LaRose indictment only by geographic location, numbers, and “CC,” the code for coconspirator. In the public document, sources said Mohammed is “CC#4, a resident of the United States.”

The indictment alleges that in July 2009, when Mohammed was 15, he posted “an online solicitation for funds to support terrorism on behalf of defendant Colleen R. LaRose, a.k.a. Fatima LaRose, a.k.a. Jihad Jane.”

“I write this message on behalf of a respected sister,” Mohammed allegedly wrote. “The sister has been in touch with a brother [who] appealed for urgent funds stating that his resources are limited. The sister has provide me proofs that have confirmed that the brother is . . . true. . . . I know the sister and by Allah all money will be transferred to her. The sister will then transfer the money to the brother. . . .”

The LaRose indictment also alleges that Mohammed forwarded her a questionnaire “in which [he] asked another woman about her beliefs and intentions with regard to jihad.”

At the end of the questionnaire, prosecutors said, Mohammed wrote: “The reason why I am not providing much information as to why I am asking the above-mentioned information is due to security. . . . Also, if you have any contacts to other sisters (only the ones whom you extremely trust. . .!!!), please forward this message to them.”

Mohammed and LaRose met in a jihadist chat room, sources said.

The FBI arrested Mohammed on July 6, family members said, and he is being held at the Berks County Youth Detention Center, about three hours’ drive from their home, which is near Baltimore.

During several interviews, relatives said family members are all legal residents of the United States, and moved here to get a better education. The parents are the first in the family to be literate; the children will be the first generation to attend college. Mohammed’s father works for a delivery company.

Mohammed and his siblings shined in school, but did not socialize much, relatives said, because their parents insisted that they stick to their studies. They were not permitted sleepovers or even to play with other children in the neighborhood.

“School, education is everything,” a relative said. “If you waste one second on anything else, you are disrespecting your elders.”

A year after they arrived, Mohammed found himself excelling academically, but also, to the concern of other family members, spending hours alone online. He became moody and did not talk much, though he never spoke of violent, religious, or political thoughts – the kind of comments authorities found on his computer.

Mohammed’s outlook changed after the FBI seized the family’s computers last year and began meeting with him. Mohammed seemed to become more social, relatives said. “We hoped he’d come out of his shell more when he went off to college,” a relative said.

Family members remain shocked, they said. They believe Mohammed was lured by an adult and was too young to understand the consequences.

“Some 47-year-old woman was taking advantage of a kid who was just 14 or 15 years old, someone who’s easy to brainwash,” a relative said. “How did this happen?””

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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C.I.A. Demands Cuts in Book About 9/11 and Terror Fight

August 26, 2011

The New York Times on August 26, 2011 released the following in print:

“WASHINGTON — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the C.I.A.’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.

Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

Mr. Soufan, an Arabic-speaking counterterrorism agent who played a central role in most major terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005, has told colleagues he believes the cuts are intended not to protect national security but to prevent him from recounting episodes that in his view reflect badly on the C.I.A.

Some of the scores of cuts demanded by the C.I.A. from Mr. Soufan’s book, “The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda,” seem hard to explain on security grounds.

Among them, according to the people who have seen the correspondence, is a phrase from Mr. Soufan’s 2009 testimony at a Senate hearing, freely available both as video and transcript on the Web. Also chopped are references to the word “station” to describe the C.I.A.’s overseas offices, common parlance for decades.

The agency removed the pronouns “I” and “me” from a chapter in which Mr. Soufan describes his widely reported role in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an important terrorist facilitator and training camp boss. And agency officials took out references to the fact that a passport photo of one of the 9/11 hijackers who later lived in San Diego, Khalid al-Midhar, had been sent to the C.I.A. in January 2000 — an episode described both in the 9/11 commission report and Mr. Tenet’s book.

In a letter sent Aug. 19 to the F.B.I.’s general counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, a lawyer for Mr. Soufan, David N. Kelley, wrote that “credible sources have told Mr. Soufan that the agency has made a decision that this book should not be published because it will prove embarrassing to the agency.”

In a statement, Mr. Soufan called the C.I.A’s redactions to his book “ridiculous” but said he thought he would prevail in getting them restored for a later edition.

He said he believed that counterterrorism officers have an obligation to face squarely “where we made mistakes and let the American people down.” He added: “It saddens me that some are refusing to address past mistakes.”

A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Jennifer Youngblood, said, “The suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency has requested redactions on this publication because it doesn’t like the content is ridiculous. The C.I.A.’s pre-publication review process looks solely at the issue of whether information is classified.”

She noted that under the law, “Just because something is in the public domain doesn’t mean it’s been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government.”

A spokesman for the F.B.I., Michael P. Kortan, declined to comment.

The book, written with the assistance of Daniel Freedman, a colleague at Mr. Soufan’s New York security company, is scheduled to go on sale Sept. 12. Facing a deadline this week, the publisher, W. W. Norton and Company, decided to proceed with a first printing incorporating all the C.I.A.’s cuts.

If Mr. Soufan ultimately prevails in negotiations or a legal fight to get the excised material restored, Norton will print the unredacted version, said Drake McFeely, Norton’s president. “The C.I.A.’s redactions seem outrageous to me,” Mr. McFeely said. But he noted that they are concentrated in certain chapters and said “the book’s argument comes across clearly despite them.”

The regular appearance of memoirs by Bush administration officials has continued a debate over the facts surrounding the failure to prevent 9/11 and the tactics against terrorism that followed. In former Vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir, set for publication next week, he writes of the harsh interrogations that “the techniques worked.”

A book scheduled for publication next May by José A. Rodriguez Jr., a former senior C.I.A. official, is expected to give a far more laudatory account of the agency’s harsh interrogations than that of Mr. Soufan, as is evident from its tentative title: “Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”

Government employees who hold security clearances are required to have their books vetted for classified information before publication. But because decisions on what should be classified can be highly subjective, the prepublication review process often becomes a battle. Several former spies have gone to court to fight redactions to their books, and the Defense Department spent nearly $50,000 last year to buy and destroy the entire first printing of an intelligence officer’s book, which it said contained secrets.

The C.I.A. interrogation program sharply divided the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., whose director, Robert S. Mueller III, ordered agents to stop participating in the program after Mr. Soufan and other agents objected to the use of physical coercion. But some C.I.A. officers, too, opposed the brutal methods, including waterboarding, and it was their complaint to the C.I.A.’s inspector general that eventually led to the suspension of the program.

“The Black Banners” traces the origins and growth of Al Qaeda and describes the role of Mr. Soufan, 40, a Lebanese-American, in the investigations of the East African embassy bombings of 1998, the attack on the American destroyer Cole in 2000, 9/11 and the continuing campaign against terrorism.

Starting in May, F.B.I. officials reviewed Mr. Soufan’s 600-page manuscript, asking the author for evidence that dozens of names and facts were not classified. Mr. Soufan and Mr. Freedman agreed to change wording or substitute aliases for some names, and on July 12 the bureau told Mr. Soufan its review was complete.

In the meantime, however, the bureau had given the book to the C.I.A. Its reviewers responded this month with 78-page and 103-page faxes listing their cuts.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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