“Obama to pick new FBI director in second term”

November 9, 2012

USA Today on November 9, 2012 released the following:

“Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Beyond the reshuffling of President Obama’s Cabinet, another key personnel decision is looming in the administration’s second term.

In the coming months, Obama will decide a successor to Robert Mueller, the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.

Mueller, the only top national security official remaining in government since the 9/11 attacks, is set to leave office in 2013, after Congress took the unprecedented action of extending his 10-year term. Obama requested the extension last year to preserve some continuity in the national security structure, at a time when he was naming new executives to lead the Pentagon and CIA.

But Congress is not likely to provide another extension for one of the most fraught jobs in government.

“This is an unusual step by the president, and is somewhat of a risky precedent to set,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican said in May 2011 at the time of the request, adding that he would seek to “ensure that this is not a more permanent extension.”

Until Mueller was granted an additional two years, which Grassley also ultimately voted for, the administration’s search team had considered a list candidates — many drawn from Democratic and Republican administrations.

Federal law enforcement analysts, including Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director, said the names represent a vast array of experience for an agency whose reach continues to extend throughout the globe.

Fuentes, who once directed the bureau’s international operations, said terrorism, organized crime and the growing threats to cybersecurity have required the agency to expand its international presence.

“On any given day, you have more than 1,000 agents (of the bureau’s 14,000 agents) working outside the country,” Fuentes said.

“Any new director has got to have some understanding of the international nature of crime and the value of intelligence,” he said.

While endorsing Michael Mason, former chief of the FBI’s D.C. field office for the post last year, the FBI Agents Association referred to a similar need for leadership that spans the agency’s many areas of jurisdiction, “from Bloods street gangs to mortgage fraud to Russian sleeper cells.”

Don Borelli, a former assistant agent-in-charge of the FBI’s New York division, said the most critical need is “organization.”

“The biggest challenges facing the next director are organizational,” he said. “It’s how you direct a large organization, provide it the resources it needs to function. Obviously, you need someone who knows the nuances of politics and could be confirmed (by Congress).”

“No matter who gets the job, though there is going to skepticism, because agents by nature are skeptical,” Borelli said. “But what you need is someone who can take over like a CEO of a big corporation.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Federal Appeals Court throws out conviction of bin Laden driver

October 16, 2012

The Associated Press on October 16, 2012 released the following:

“By PETE YOST
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out the conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden who served a prison term for material support for terrorism.

In a 3-0 ruling, the appeals court said that material support for terrorism was not an international-law war crime at the time Hamdan engaged in the activity for which he was convicted.

Hamdan was sentenced to 5 1/2 years, given credit for time served and is back home in Yemen, reportedly working as a taxi driver.

“If the government wanted to charge Hamdan with aiding and abetting terrorism or some other war crime that was sufficiently rooted in the international law of war at the time of Hamdan’s conduct, it should have done so,” wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He was joined by two other judges, all appointed by Republican presidents.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Man Offers Guilty Plea, Upending Terror Case

June 14, 2012

The New York Times on June 13, 2012 released the following:

“By BENJAMIN WEISER

A terrorism case in Manhattan that raised key questions about government interrogation tactics ended abruptly on Wednesday after the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiring to support a Somali terrorist group.

The defendant, an Eritrean man named Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, admitted in Federal District Court that he trained in a camp run by the Somali group, Al Shabab, in 2009. The case had been seen as a potential test of the Obama administration’s strategy of interrogating terrorism suspects for both intelligence and law enforcement purposes.

Indeed, the plea came as the judge, P. Kevin Castel, was poised to rule on a motion by Mr. Ahmed’s lawyers seeking suppression of statements he had made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was in custody in Nigeria; his lawyers argued that the statements had not been voluntary and, thus, were inadmissible.

“I have in my hand a 60-page draft of the decision on the motion to suppress,” Judge Castel, holding up a thick document, said in court before accepting Mr. Ahmed’s plea. The judge did not reveal how he would have ruled on the motion, but said that the ruling itself would “now be suppressed.”

Mr. Ahmed, 38, who had lived in Sweden, was scheduled for trial on July 9. He had been accused of providing material support to a terrorist group, receiving training and bomb-making instruction in Shabab military camps in Somalia in 2009 and using a firearm in a crime of violence. The firearm count alone carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. As a result of Mr. Ahmed’s plea — to two conspiracy counts — he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years when he is sentenced on Nov. 2, the judge said in court.

Mr. Ahmed’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said after the proceeding, “I’m sure Mr. Ahmed would have liked to have challenged the actions of the United States.” But, she added, given the difference between a maximum 10-year sentence and what could have resulted from a guilty verdict, it would have been a “humongous risk” to go to trial.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. Ahmed had “traveled a long way from his home in Sweden to Somalia, where he took up the cause of Al Shabab, a deadly terrorist organization and sworn enemy of the United States and its people.”

Mr. Ahmed told the judge that in Somalia, he contributed 2,000 euros to Al Shabab and trained in one of its military camps, knowing that the United States considered it a terrorist organization.

Mr. Ahmed was taken into custody by Nigeria in 2009 under suspicion of being an agent for Al Qaeda. He was later interrogated by separate groups of American officials, known colloquially as “dirty” and “clean” teams.

The first team questioned him for intelligence purposes, without advising him of his rights, prosecutors have said. About a week later, a second team, of F.B.I. agents, read him his rights, which he waived, and he began to make incriminating statements, the government says. An issue before the judge had been how separate the American officials kept the two interrogations.

A prosecutor, Benjamin Naftalis, told Judge Castel that had the case gone to trial, the evidence would have included Mr. Ahmed’s statements and testimony from cooperating witnesses. Prosecutors have said a former Shabab military commander has been cooperating; although he has not been identified, his description resembles that of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali captured by the United States military last year and questioned aboard a naval vessel for about two months.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Attorney: Terror suspect isolated for a year

June 12, 2012

CBS News on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Iraqi man facing terrorism charged in Kentucky has been held in solitary confinement for more than a year with no contact with other inmates or access, television, radio or outdoor recreation during the daytime, his attorney said.

The conditions under which 24-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi have been held violate his constitutional rights, defense lawyer Jim Earhart said.

“It’s horrendous,” Earhart told The Associated Press on Monday. “He’s doing about as well as could be expected if you put someone in a room by himself for a year.”

Earhart has asked U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell to release Hammadi on bail until his Aug. 27 trial in Bowling Green. Russell has postponed the trial from the original date of July 30 because of a scheduling conflict.

Hammadi faces 12 charges, including attempting to send material support such as rocket-propelled grenade launchers, sniper rifles, machine guns and explosives to al-Qaida. A co-defendant in the case, 30-year-old Waad Ramadan Alwan, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing Oct. 2.

Prosecutors said Alwan and Hammadi lied to gain refugee status and enter the U.S. Prosecutors also said the pair took part in insurgent activities near Baiji, Iraq, including planting improvised explosive devices targeting U.S. troops.

In search warrants in the case, the FBI said the pair talked about attacking American soldiers and building homemade bombs. The two were caught in an FBI sting involving a confidential informant.

Earhart is due in federal court Wednesday in Louisville for a hearing on the bail request. The motion does not specify where Hammadi would spend his home detention if he is released. Federal authorities use several detention centers in Kentucky to hold inmates. Court records do not reveal where Hammadi is being held under an assumed name. Federal prosecutors had not responded to a request for comment nor filed a response in court as of midday Monday.

Charles Rose, a former Army intelligence officer and military attorney, said there may be intelligence or national security reasons for keeping Hammadi under an assumed name and in isolation.

“It’s perfectly legitimate to do it if they’ve got a valid reason to believe this individual might be a danger to himself or others or if others might be a danger to him,” said Rose, who teaches at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, Fla. “Is it uncommon? Absolutely, it’s uncommon.”

Since pleading guilty, Alwan has been moved to the general population at an undisclosed jail and given the freedoms of other inmates, including the ability to socialize, watch television and have recreation time during the day, Earhart said.

When asked if federal authorities were trying to coerce a guilty plea from Hammadi by putting him in solitary confinement, Earhart said he wasn’t sure, but found the differing circumstances of Alwan and Hammadi curious.

“It seems more than coincidental,” Earhart said. “The only difference I can see between them is one pleaded guilty and one hasn’t.”

Earhart said he’s discussed a plea deal with prosecutors, but so far they have not reached an agreement.

Rose said to show that Hammadi is being mistreated, Earhart will have to present evidence that there’s no legitimate reason for holding his client in isolation.

“His detention has to be above board and not behind somebody’s back,” Rose said.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


U.S. thinks underwear bomb was built by Al Qaeda in Yemen

May 8, 2012

Los Angeles Times on May 7, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON — The FBI is analyzing a sophisticated underwear bomb that U.S. officials believe was built by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen in an effort to target Western aviation.

U.S. officials said Monday that there was no imminent threat to U.S. jetliners. But the explosive device, which the CIA obtained from another government, demonstrates Al Qaeda’s continued interest in building a bomb that can pass through airport security and bring down a passenger jet, the officials said.

The FBI said in a statement that “the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.” An IED is an improvised explosive device.

“We have no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the U.S. at this time, although we continue to monitor efforts by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to carry out terrorist attacks, both in the homeland and abroad,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. “Since this IED demonstrates our adversaries’ interest in targeting the aviation sector, DHS continues, at the direction of the president, to employ a risk-based, layered approach to ensure the security of the traveling public.”

In December 2009, a would-be suicide bomber aboard a Detroit-bound airliner attempted to detonate an explosive device in his underwear. The bomb failed to detonate, and officials later traced the device to the Al Qaeda group in Yemen.

Despite the timing, U.S. officials said they had no direct evidence of a plot tied to the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden last week.

In a statement, the White House said President Obama was first informed of the latest plot in April by his Homeland Security and counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan.

“While the president was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack,” said Caitlin Hayden, deputy spokeswoman of the National Security Council. “The disruption of this IED plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense 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 Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

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


Was Anonymous’ Hacker-Informant Sabu A Tool Of FBI Entrapment?

March 7, 2012

Forbes on March 7, 2012 released the following:

“Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

In a typical criminal conspiracy takedown, lower-level minions are flipped to inform on a crime syndicate’s boss. But in the investigation of LulzSec, the hacker splinter group that broke off from Anonymous last summer, the FBI seems to have found a snitch in none other than the conspiracy’s ringleader and organizer, the 28-year-old hacker known as Sabu.

Which raises a strange question: As the FBI worked to take down the radical hacktivist group over the last months, was it also egging it on?

Yesterday it was revealed that Hector Xavier Monsegur, the alleged hacker known as Sabu, had been acting as a government informant since as early as last June, helping to provide the FBI with information that led to three more arrests of alleged LulzSec-related hackers yesterday, along with new charges against two of the other related defendants. The help of the Spanish-speaking Monsegur may have even aided the arrest of 25 other alleged members of Anonymous in Spain and South America late last month.

But criminal defense lawyers for those accused hackers are no doubt poring over his communications with their clients, and looking for evidence of entrapment: the defense that the U.S. government, with an influential member of Anonymous as their pawn, pushed hackers into the same illegal acts for which they’re now prosecuting them.

Months after Monsegur began cooperating with law enforcement, his Twitter feed (with 45,000 followers) continued to rally his hacktivist “brothers” to attack governments and private corporate targets. A message he wrote in late December asked for fellow hackers to give him stolen documents so that they could be published under the banner of “Antisec,” the sub-movement against the security industry in which he was a vocal organizer. “Leakers, security researchers or hackers who have vulnerabilities or leaked docs contact us,” Monsegur wrote.

After the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in January, he called for hacking attacks on Israel. “Since #israel started the week by blowing up Iranian nuclear scientists – how about we focus on disrupting their infrastructure?” he wrote to his followers.

As recently as last month, Monsegur was inciting attacks on Interpol in retaliation for arrests of his fellow anons. “Hackers of the world: Interpol has declared war on hackers,” he wrote. “Time to strike back. Infiltrate.” The denial of service attack on Interpol’s website that followed took the site down for around half an hour.“

And perhaps most significantly, Monsegur seems to have taken an active part in the attack on the private intelligence think tank Stratfor, whose millions of stolen emails are now being released by WikiLeaks. In fact, the indictment of 27-year old Chicagoan Jeremy Hammond, unsealed Tuesday, states that an informant under the name Cooperative Witness One or “CW-1″ in New York convinced Hammond to move stolen Stratfor data to a server that the informant provided. Given that there are no other indicted members of LulzSec in New York, CW-1 is no doubt Monsegur.

In other conversations between Monsegur and Hammond included in the indictment–and there’s no telling what Monsegur may have said that wasn’t quote by prosecutors–Monsegur explicitly encourages illegal hacking and disclosure of stolen info.

“Wanna release that list of 92% cracked Stratfor hashes?” he asks Hammond at one point. Hammond replies to Monsegur that it’s “Your call.”

“If I get raided anarchaos your job is to cause havok in my honor,” Monsegur tells Hammond later, using one of the hacker’s pseudonyms.

“It shall be so,” Hammond responds.

Whether this kind of encouragement and support for illegal hacking rises to the level of entrapment, however, is far from clear, says Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Hanni Fakhoury. The legal definition of entrapment hinges on two separate issues: Inducement and predisposition. To meet the “inducement” requirement, the government must be actively “authorizing, directing or supervising” the defendant’s criminal behavior. And to pass the second criteria, the defendant has to be shown to have not had a predisposition to commit that crime without the government’s encouragement.

Fakhoury cautions that the case for any defendant associated with Monsegur would depend on the specific facts of that person’s behavior and communications with Monsegur. But he believes the first element of entrapment may strongly apply in some of the indicted hackers’ cases, while the predisposition case will be more difficult to argue. “I think inducement is pretty clear here,” says Fakhoury. “The government knew what [Monsegur] was doing. Much harder will be proving pre-disposition: that the defendants weren’t already predisposed to engage in that [illegal] behavior.”

Given that members of Anonymous often openly discuss their motivations and gain status in the group by acting on their own initiative, prosecutors may have an easy time showing that any defendants in Monsegur’s circle were already predisposed to hacking. “They’re pretty vocal about their tactics and their policies and what they want to do,” says Fakhoury. “A traditional entrapment case is someone who’s pressured into something. These individuals aren’t usually pressured, and they often make statements like ‘This is why I’m involved in Anonymous and this is what I’m doing.’”

In other areas, particularly domestic terrorism, the FBI has been known to weave complex scenarios around suspects to actively tempt them into committing crimes. In the case of the “Newburgh Five,” a group of New York men charged with plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military airplanes, the FBI informant in many respects functioned as the primary organizer of the plot, offering to supply the group with its explosives, a BMW, a $250,000 payment. As for the “terrorists” themselves, they were hardly capable of carrying out the attack on their own: None even had a driver’s license.

In another case, two activists at the Republican National Convention were arrested and convicted on terrorism charges for making Molotov cocktails. As laid out in the recent documentary “Better This World,” the pair had been mentored in radical activism for over a year by a well-known activist-turned-FBI-informant who encouraged them to abandon more pacificist measures.

Despite cases like these, none of the 10 terrorism prosecutions involving informants over the last decade has successfully used an entrapment defense. “In short, if a suspicion of entrapment seems a viable starting-point for a defense, forget it,” attorney Karen Greenberg wrote in an editorial in the Guardian. “Find another strategy with which to defend your client.”

In the case of Monsegur, the EFF’s Fakhoury says the case does indeed smell “fishy.” ”Is the government manufacturing crime in order to prevent it?” he asks. “Something about it definitely doesn’t seem right.”

And whether or not an entrapment defense will win out for any of Monsegur’s fellow hackers, Fakhoury expects the issue to appear in their upcoming trials. “I don’t think this will necessarily be that successful a defense,” he says. “But it’s one that should absolutely be raised by any good defense attorney.””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

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.


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 .””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


Beirut Bank Seen as a Hub of Hezbollah’s Financing

December 14, 2011

The New York Times on December 14, 2011 released the following:

“By JO BECKER

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Last February, the Obama administration accused one of Lebanon’s famously secretive banks of laundering money for an international cocaine ring with ties to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Now, in the wake of the bank’s exposure and arranged sale, its ledgers have been opened to reveal deeper secrets: a glimpse at the clandestine methods that Hezbollah — a terrorist organization in American eyes that has evolved into Lebanon’s pre-eminent military and political power — uses to finance its operations. The books offer evidence of an intricate global money-laundering apparatus that, with the bank as its hub, appeared to let Hezbollah move huge sums of money into the legitimate financial system, despite sanctions aimed at cutting off its economic lifeblood.

At the same time, the investigation that led the United States to the bank, the Lebanese Canadian Bank, provides new insights into the murky sources of Hezbollah’s money. While law enforcement agencies around the world have long believed that Hezbollah is a passive beneficiary of contributions from loyalists abroad involved in drug trafficking and a grab bag of other criminal enterprises, intelligence from several countries points to the direct involvement of high-level Hezbollah officials in the South American cocaine trade.

One agent involved in the investigation compared Hezbollah to the Mafia, saying, “They operate like the Gambinos on steroids.”

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Virginia announced the indictment of the man at the center of the Lebanese Canadian Bank case, charging that he had trafficked drugs and laundered money not only for Colombian cartels, but also for the murderous Mexican gang Los Zetas.

The revelations about Hezbollah and the Lebanese Canadian Bank reflect the changing political and military dynamics of Lebanon and the Middle East. American intelligence analysts believe that for years Hezbollah received as much as $200 million annually from its primary patron, Iran, along with additional aid from Syria. But that support has diminished, the analysts say, as Iran’s economy buckles under international sanctions over its nuclear program and Syria’s government battles rising popular unrest.

Yet, if anything, Hezbollah’s financial needs have grown alongside its increasing legitimacy here, as it seeks to rebuild after its 2006 war with Israel and expand its portfolio of political and social service activities. The result, analysts believe, has been a deeper reliance on criminal enterprises — especially the South American cocaine trade — and on a mechanism to move its ill-gotten cash around the world.

“The ability of terror groups like Hezbollah to tap into the worldwide criminal funding streams is the new post-9/11 challenge,” said Derek Maltz, the Drug Enforcement Administration official who oversaw the agency’s investigation into the Lebanese Canadian Bank.

In that inquiry, American Treasury officials said senior bank managers had assisted a handful of account holders in running a scheme to wash drug money by mixing it with the proceeds of used cars bought in the United States and sold in Africa. A cut of the profits, officials said, went to Hezbollah, a link the organization disputes.

The officials have refused to disclose their evidence for that allegation. But the outlines of a broader laundering network, and the degree to which Hezbollah’s business had come to suffuse the bank’s operations, emerged in recent months as the bank’s untainted assets were being sold, with American blessings, to a Beirut-based partner of the French banking giant Société Générale.

Of course, a money-laundering operation does not just come out and identify itself. But auditors brought in to scrub the books discovered nearly 200 accounts that were suspicious for their links to Hezbollah and their classic signs of money laundering.

In all, hundreds of millions of dollars a year sloshed through the accounts, held mainly by Shiite Muslim businessmen in the drug-smuggling nations of West Africa, many of them known Hezbollah supporters, trading in everything from rough-cut diamonds to cosmetics and frozen chicken, according to people with knowledge of the matter in the United States and Europe. The companies appeared to be serving as fronts for Hezbollah to move all sorts of dubious funds, on its own behalf or for others.

The system allowed Hezbollah to hide not only the sources of its wealth, but also its involvement in a range of business enterprises. One case involved perhaps the richest land deal in Lebanon’s history, the $240 million purchase late last year of more than 740 pristine acres overlooking the Mediterranean in the religiously diverse Chouf region.

The seller was a jet-set Christian jeweler, Robert Mouawad, whose clientele runs from Saudi royalty to Hollywood royalty. The buyer, at least on paper, was a Shiite diamond dealer, Nazem Said Ahmad.

In fact, according to people knowledgeable about Beirut real estate, the development corporation’s major investor was a relative of a former Hezbollah commander, Ali Tajeddine. The investor, in turn, received money that flowed through the bank from companies the United States has since designated as Hezbollah fronts, and from dealers implicated in the trade in so-called conflict diamonds and minerals, the Americans and Europeans with knowledge of the matter said. The Lebanese Canadian Bank provided a crucial loan.

And the deal fit a pattern, highly controversial in this religiously combustible land, in which entities tied to Hezbollah have been buying up militarily strategic pieces of property in largely Christian areas, helping the movement quietly fortify its geopolitical hegemony.

In a recent interview at his home in Taybeh, just north of the border with Israel — or as the signs here say, “Palestine” — Hezbollah’s chief political strategist and a member of Parliament, Ali Fayyad, denied that his organization was behind the Chouf purchase or other, similar land deals. He dismissed the American drug-trafficking allegations as politically motivated “propaganda,” adding, “We have no relationship to the Lebanese Canadian Bank.” The United States, he said, was simply persecuting innocent Shiite businessmen as a way “to punish us because we won our battle with Israel.”

For the United States, taking down the bank was part of a long-running strategy of deploying financial weapons to fight terrorism. This account of the serpentine, six-year inquiry and what has since been revealed is based on interviews with government, law enforcement and banking officials across three continents, as well as intelligence reports and police and corporate records.

As the case traveled up the administration’s chain of command beginning in the fall of 2010, some officials proposed leaving the Hezbollah link unsaid. They argued that simply blacklisting the bank would disrupt the network while insulating the United States from suspicions of playing politics, especially amid American alarm about ebbing influence in the Middle East. But the prevailing view was that the case offered what one official called “a great opportunity to dirty up Hezbollah” by pointing out the hypocrisy of the “Party of God” profiting from criminal activity.

Certainly the United States had ample cause to want to dirty up Hezbollah, Iran’s armed proxy and a persistent irritant to American interests in a chronically troubled region. (Just last week, in fact, Hezbollah’s long-running feud with the Central Intelligence Agency heated up when the organization broadcast what it said were the names of 10 American spies who had worked in recent years at the embassy in Beirut. )

The time was ripe, too, for taking on Hezbollah — a moment that crystallized its ascent but also its vulnerability. Just weeks before, Hezbollah’s political wing had played Lebanese kingmaker, engineering the fall of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, an American ally, and installing its own choice in his stead. At the same time, though, a United Nations tribunal was preparing to indict Hezbollah members in a spectacular bombing that killed Mr. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in 2005.

John O. Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, recalled the debate in a recent interview. “I thought that if Hezbollah was involved in the drug trade,” he said, “let’s make sure that gets out.”

A State Within a State

Founded three decades ago as a guerrilla force aimed at the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has never before had such a prominent place in the country’s official politics. Yet much of its power, and its ability to operate with some impunity, derives from elsewhere: from its status as a state within the Lebanese state.

Its militia is considerably stronger than the national army. Its social service agencies perform many of the functions of government, and it controls the international airport and the smuggling routes along the Syrian border, as well as the budgets of the government agencies charged with policing them.

In an interview, the chief of Lebanese customs’ drug and money-laundering unit, Lt. Col. Joseph N. Skaf, described a Sisyphean task: Passengers are allowed to bring in unlimited amounts of cash without declaring it. He has only 12 officers to search for drugs, and scanners at the airport and seaport do not work. “My hands are tied,” he said.

That this sliver of a country would be a crossroads for all manner of trade owes much to the flourishing of a worldwide diaspora; more Lebanese live abroad than at home. Through criminal elements in these émigré communities, Hezbollah has gained a deepening foothold in the cocaine business, according to an assessment by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime described in a leaked 2009 State Department cable.

From a trafficking standpoint, the émigrés were in the right places at the right time. As demand increased in Europe and the Middle East, the cartels began plying new routes — from Colombia, Venezuela and the lawless frontier where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet, to West African countries like Benin and Gambia. From there, drugs moved north through Portugal or Spain, or east via Syria and Lebanon.

According to Lebanon’s drug enforcement chief, Col. Adel Mashmoushi, one path into the country was aboard a weekly Iranian-operated flight from Venezuela to Damascus and then over the border. Several American officials confirmed that, emphasizing that such an operation would be impossible without Hezbollah’s involvement.

In South America and in Europe, prosecutors began noticing Lebanese Shiite middlemen working for the cartels. But the strongest evidence of an expanding Hezbollah role in the drug trade, that it was not just the passive recipient of tainted money, comes from the two investigations that ultimately led to the Lebanese Canadian Bank.

The trail began with a man known as Taliban, overheard on Colombian wiretaps of a Medellín cartel, La Oficina de Envigado. Actually, he was a Lebanese transplant, Chekri Mahmoud Harb, and in June 2007, he met in Bogotá with an undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration and sketched out his route.

Cocaine was shipped by sea to Port Aqaba, Jordan, then smuggled into Syria. After Mr. Harb bragged that he could deliver 950 kilos into Lebanon within hours, the undercover agent casually remarked that he must have Hezbollah connections. Mr. Harb smiled and nodded, the agent reported.

(Jordanian officials, after extensive surveillance, later told the D.E.A. that the Syrian leg of the shipment was coordinated by a Syrian intelligence officer assigned as a liaison to Hezbollah. From there, multiple sources reported, Hezbollah operatives charged a tax to guarantee shipments into Lebanon.)

Soon the cartel was giving the agent money to launder: $20 million in all. But before Mr. Harb could reveal the entire scheme and identify his Hezbollah contacts, the operation broke down: The C.I.A., initially skeptical of a Hezbollah link, now wanted in on the case. On the eve of a planned meeting in Jordan, it forced the undercover agent to postpone. His quarry spooked. In the end, Mr. Harb was convicted on federal drug trafficking and money-laundering charges, but the window into the organization’s heart had slammed shut.

It was “like having a girl you love break up with you,” one agent said later, adding, “We lost everything.”

A New Target

Actually they had not. Before long, a new target emerged.

A call had come in to a wiretapped phone tied to Mr. Harb and the cartel. The caller had arranged for cocaine proceeds to be picked up at a Paris hotel and laundered back to Colombia. The meeting turned out to be a sting.

“He says, ‘I just lost a million euros in France,’ ” recalled one of the agents listening in. “The way he talked — no one loses a million euros and is so nonchalant about it. Usually, there are bodies in the street.”

Agents had known that there was a major money launderer whose phone sat in Lebanon. Now they had a name: Ayman Joumaa, formerly of Medellín, now owner of the Caesars Park Hotel in Beirut. He was a Sunni Muslim, but cellphones seized at the Paris hotel linked him to Shiites in Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, according to Interpol records.

He was also known to Israeli intelligence. Israeli intercepts showed him in contact with a member of Hezbollah’s “1,800 Unit,” alleged to coordinate attacks inside Israel. Mr. Joumaa’s contact, in turn, worked for a senior operative who the Israelis believed handled Hezbollah’s drug operations.

His name was Abu Abdallah, and he had popped up in the Harb wiretaps, too: At one point, as Mr. Harb was complaining about “the sons of whores I owe money to,” a relative from his hometown warned that the “people of Abu Abdallah, the people we do not dare have problems or fight with,” were looking for him, wanting money.

Eventually an American team dispatched to look into Mr. Joumaa’s activities uncovered the used-car operation. Cars bought in United States were sold in Africa, with cash proceeds flown into Beirut and deposited into three money-exchange houses, one owned by Mr. Joumaa’s family and another down the street from his hotel. The exchanges then deposited the money, the ostensible proceeds of a booming auto trade, into the Lebanese Canadian Bank, so named because it was once a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada Middle East.

But the numbers did not add up. The car lots in the United States, many owned by Lebanese émigrés and one linked to a separate Hezbollah weapons-smuggling scheme, were not moving nearly enough merchandise to account for all that cash, American officials said. What was really going on, they concluded, was that European drug proceeds were being intermingled with the car-sale cash to make it appear legitimate.

Hezbollah received its cut either from the exchange houses, or via the bank itself, according to the D.E.A. And the Treasury Department concluded that Iran also used the bank to avoid sanctions, with Hezbollah’s envoy to Tehran serving as go-between.

In Washington, after a long debate over when to act and what to make public, the administration decided to invoke a rarely used provision of the Patriot Act. Since the bank had been found to be of “primary money-laundering concern,” the Treasury Department could turn it into an international pariah by forbidding American financial institutions to deal with it. President Obama was briefed, and on Feb. 10, Treasury officials pulled the trigger.

As for Mr. Joumaa, the indictment announced Tuesday goes beyond the Europe-based operation outlined in the Lebanese Canadian Bank case. It charges him with coordinating shipments of Colombian cocaine to Los Zetas in Mexico for sale in the United States, and laundering the proceeds.

Whether he will ever face trial is an open question. The United States has no extradition treaty with Lebanon, and Mr. Joumaa’s whereabouts are unknown. He did not respond to several messages left at his hotel by The New York Times. Around Beirut, rumors abound.

Growing Skepticism

The Americans had identified only a handful of drug-tainted accounts at the Lebanese Canadian Bank. The search for further trouble began over the summer, after the Société Générale de Banque au Liban, or S.G.B.L., agreed to buy the bank’s assets.

As part of its own agreement with Treasury officials, Lebanon’s Central Bank set up a process to scrub the books. But compliance officers at S.G.B.L.’s French partner, Société Générale, were skeptical of the Central Bank’s choice of investigators. One of them, the local affiliate of the international auditing firm Deloitte, had presumably missed the drug-related accounts the first time around, when it served as the Lebanese Canadian Bank’s outside auditor.

And, according to people knowledgeable about Lebanese banking, the central bank’s on-the-ground representative had been recommended to that post by Hezbollah.

As an extra step, to reassure wary international banks, the chairman of S.G.B.L., Antoun Sehnaoui, commissioned a parallel audit, with the help of Société Générale’s chief money-laundering compliance officer. And to make sure that his bank did not run afoul of Treasury officials by inadvertently taking on dirty assets, he also hired a consultant intimately familiar with the Patriot Act provision used to take the bank down: John Ashcroft, the former attorney general whose Justice Department wrote the law.

Identifying suspicious accounts is not a subjective business. Banks rely on internationally recognized standards and software that contains certain triggers.

For the assets of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, the process worked this way, according to the Americans and Europeans knowledgeable about the case:

Initially, the auditors looked only at records for the past year. As they began combing through thousands of accounts, they looked for customers with known links to Hezbollah. They also looked for telltale patterns: repeated deposits of vast amounts of cash, huge wire transfers broken into smaller transactions and transfers between companies in such wildly incongruous lines of business that they made sense only as fronts to camouflage the true origin of the funds.

Each type of red flag was assigned a point value. An account with 1 or 2 points on a scale to 10 was likely to survive. One with 8 or 9 cried out for further scrutiny. Ultimately, the auditors were left with nearly 200 accounts that appeared to add up to a giant money-laundering operation, with Hezbollah smack in the middle, according to American officials. Complex webs of transactions featured the same companies over and over again, most of them owned by Shiite businessmen, many known Hezbollah supporters. Some have since been identified as Hezbollah fronts.

At the center of many of these webs were companies trading in diamonds, which experts say are fast replacing more traditional money-laundering vehicles because they are easy to transport and are generally traded for cash. Large transactions leave no paper trail, and values can be altered through bogus transactions. A number of these dealers had been implicated in the buying of “conflict diamonds” and other minerals used to finance civil wars and human-rights abuses in Africa.

In some cases, money moved in amounts — tens of millions of dollars at a clip — that made no sense, given the business models and potential sales of the companies involved.

“It’s like these guys no one had ever heard of became the most successful multimillionaires overnight,” said one person with knowledge of the investigation. “It’s Hezbollah’s money.”

Mr. Sehnaoui closed the deal in September. He declined to discuss details, but said: “We bought certain assets of the Lebanese Canadian Bank, and only the clean ones. We did not take any even slightly questionable clients.”

Lawyers for Mr. Ashcroft’s firm said all the problematic accounts had been excised, even though it meant losing nearly $30 million a year in interest and fees. “As current and potential problems have been uncovered, he has not hesitated to act,” Mr. Ashcroft said of his client.

From the Treasury Department’s perspective, the case is a victory, albeit an incremental one, in the battle against terrorism financing. Lebanon’s Central Bank showed that it was willing to shut down the Lebanese Canadian Bank and sell it to a “responsible owner,” said Daniel L. Glaser, assistant Treasury secretary for terrorism financing. An important avenue to Hezbollah has been blocked.

Still, Treasury officials have no illusions that their work here is done. From the beginning, the blacklisting was also intended as a wider warning to a banking industry that, with secrecy to rival the Swiss, forms the backbone of Lebanon’s economy: henceforth, other bankers did business with Hezbollah at their peril.

“What the Central Bank hasn’t fully demonstrated, and the jury is still out, is whether they will use this as a launching pad to ensure that these illicit actors aren’t migrating elsewhere,” Mr. Glaser said.

The signs are not terribly encouraging. The Central Bank governor, Riad Salameh, cut short an interview when asked about the aftermath of the American action, calling it an “old story.” As for those nearly 200 suspect accounts, Mr. Salameh would only say that he does not involve himself in such commercial questions.

Privately, he has played down the findings to the Treasury Department, attributing much of the suspicious activity to peculiarities in the way business is done in Africa. Those accounts he did deem problematic, he told the Americans, have been referred to Lebanon’s general prosecutor. But the prosecutor refused to comment, and his deputy, who handles money-laundering inquiries, said last week that he had received nothing.

In fact, as Treasury officials acknowledge, on Mr. Salameh’s watch, most of the accounts were simply transferred to several other Lebanese banks.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

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.


Hearing on Terror Suspect Explores Miranda Warning

December 13, 2011

The New York Times on December 12, 2011 released the following:

“By BENJAMIN WEISER

Almost two years ago, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent was in Nigeria to question an Eritrean man who was in custody on suspicion of supporting terrorism. The suspect, Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, had already been interrogated by other American officials for intelligence-gathering purposes, without having been read his rights.

The F.B.I. agent was there for a different purpose: a “clean” interrogation. He would apprise Mr. Ahmed of his Miranda rights — including the right to remain silent and to have counsel — and then interview him, in hopes of winning a confession that could be used in a prosecution in civilian court.

But suppose the suspect, who was also known as Talha, refused to waive his rights and answer questions? The agent proposed an idea in an e-mail to his colleagues and to prosecutors.

“We’ve planned that in the event that T does not waive his rights, we could continue as another ‘dirty’ interview,” the agent wrote in an e-mail at 11:54 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2010.

In the debate over using civilian trials for terrorists, one of the key issues — the ability to first question a suspect to gain critical intelligence on terrorist cells or plots and still pursue a criminal prosecution — is getting an early test in Mr. Ahmed’s case in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Lawyers for Mr. Ahmed have asked a judge to suppress statements that the United States government has said he made after waiving his Miranda rights and being interrogated by the F.B.I. in Nigeria. They claim that any such waiver was not voluntary and thus any statements he made are inadmissible.

The hearing on the defense motion, which began on Thursday, has provided an unusually revealing look at how American officials are carefully navigating through a kind of hybrid version of Miranda, first trying to get intelligence through “dirty,” or un-Mirandized, interviews and then having different “clean team” interrogators read the same suspects their rights in the hopes that they will waive them and continue to talk.

One issue is how much distance American officials kept between the “dirty” and “clean” interviews, and whether the line between the two was blurred, possibly tainting any waiver of his rights.

Mr. Ahmed, 37, who has been living in Sweden, has since been indicted in Manhattan on charges that include providing material support to Al Shabab, a terrorist group based in Somalia. The indictment says that Mr. Ahmed received jihad training and bomb-making instruction in Shabab military camps in Somalia in 2009, and that when he was taken into custody in Nigeria in November 2009 on an immigration violation, he was found with bomb-making documents.

His interrogations, first by the Nigerians, then by unspecified American officials for intelligence purposes, and finally by the F.B.I. “clean team” agents, took place over the next few months, according to court testimony and statements by a prosecutor.

He was finally sent to Manhattan for arraignment in March 2010.

The agent’s e-mail referring to a “dirty” interview is not public. But as the suppression hearing began last Thursday, the judge, P. Kevin Castel, directed that a prosecutor read parts of the e-mail into the record during a discussion about how much of it could be made available to Mr. Ahmed’s defense lawyers.

The prosecutor, Jocelyn E. Strauber, said that by “dirty,” the F.B.I. agent was simply referring to an un-Mirandized interview.

In describing the Jan. 3, 2010, e-mail, Ms. Strauber explained to the judge that its author, Special Agent Maged Sidaros, was engaging in an internal discussion with other F.B.I. personnel and federal prosecutors, presumably in Manhattan, about “the possibility of a different kind of interview should his interview not proceed as planned.”

She also read briefly from an earlier e-mail from the agent, in which there appear to be questions about whether he is to participate in a Mirandized or un-Mirandized interview.

“We discussed the fact that Jim and I were of the impression that we were the ‘dirty’ team,” he wrote, according to what Ms. Strauber read in court. Then subsequent clean team interviews “would be conducted by others,” the agent added.

Ms. Strauber noted that when Agent Sidaros arrived in Nigeria, he received a summary of the statements Mr. Ahmed had made to Nigerian officials, but was given only scant information about the un-Mirandized interview of Mr. Ahmed by the Americans, which occurred on Dec. 31, 2009.

“Just the fact that it occurred, that it took about three hours, and who participated in it, at least on the U.S. side,” Ms. Strauber said.

The agent would testify, she said, that he specifically requested that the Mirandized interviews be conducted “in a different place, involve different people, and be spaced apart in time from the Dec. 31 interview.”

The spacing had been about five days, she added, and Judge Castel indicated that he wanted an even more precise time. “I may need to know what time on Dec. 31 it ended,” he said.

Prosecutors declined to comment, as did Mr. Ahmed’s lawyers and the F.B.I.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


ACLU: FBI used community outreach, partnership-building programs to collect info on Muslims

December 2, 2011

The Washington Post on December 1, 2011 released the following:

“By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Heavily blacked-out internal FBI documents released Thursday indicate that the FBI, in some cases between 2007 and 2009, ran background checks on people they encountered at Muslim-related events and recorded personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, physical descriptions and opinions in reports marked “routine.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the documents under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, accused the FBI of misusing its community outreach programs to collect information on people at Muslim-related events that the FBI organized or was invited to attend. Those programs were intended to improve the relationship between Muslims and the FBI.

The bureau said some of the documents the ACLU published were not derived from outreach programs but were from actual criminal investigations in which it was appropriate to include specific details such as a driver’s license number.

The blacked-out parts make it difficult to understand what the reports represent. But the disclosure comes at a time when the FBI has been criticized for some of its other programs, straining the fragile relationship between law enforcement and Muslims who widely believe they are subjected to surveillance and scrutiny because of their religion.

The ACLU said the FBI never told Muslims at outreach events such as job fairs, religious dinners or community meetings that it would record in government files the details about the events or who attended them.

The FBI’s Community Outreach Program predates the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and is designed to improve the public’s trust in the bureau and build partnerships. After the attacks, federal, state and local government officials stepped up this type of outreach to Muslim communities. Agents who attend such official events are instructed to file reports for what the FBI described as “internal oversight purposes.”

Separate from outreach programs, FBI agents who are investigating a person or group may do their own outreach to as part of the investigation, said Jeff Mazanec, deputy assistant director of public affairs, who oversees the official program. But that is kept separate from what a community outreach coordinator does, he said.

For example, the ACLU cited a 2008 report describing an FBI agent in San Francisco attendance at a religious dinner. The agent documented who was sitting at a table, a cellphone number and details about a man the agent obtained from the California State Department of Motor Vehicles. The FBI agent also included details about a California man and a check deposited to a bank, referencing information from the FBI’s internal case files. The names of individuals and other details were censored from the publicly available report for privacy reasons.

Mazanec said the FBI report was written as part of a formal investigation and not as part of the official community outreach program.

A board member at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, Sara Mostafavi, said she was disappointed that the FBI’s San Francisco division filed a report in 2007 that listed the names and organizations of people at a mosque meeting. It included the names of 50 people from 27 different organizations and identified the particular sect of Islam that each of the attendees followed.

“When you enter kind of a relationship with a sense of trust, you’d like to know that your privacy rights aren’t going to get violated,” Mostafavi said. “It’s been difficult for some people to sometimes attend these meetings because they’re afraid of what the repercussions will be.”

Mazanec said the FBI includes such details in its files so that relationships can be maintained when agents leave or retire. “It’s better than a Rolodex,” Mazanec said. He said the FBI does not use outreach programs for terrorism investigations or assessments, and rules against this were sharpened this year.

Since 2001, advocacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns that Muslim communities are unfairly targeted for counterterrorism purposes because of their religion. An Associated Press investigation into the New York Police Department’s intelligence-gathering tactics in Muslim communities revealed widespread spying programs that documented every aspect of Muslim life in New York. Police infiltrated mosques and student groups and secretly spied on Muslims who were considered partners in the city’s fight against terrorism.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.