U.S. Seizes $150 Million in Alleged Hezbollah-Linked Cash

August 21, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on August 20, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

U.S. officials said Monday they seized $150 million connected to a scheme in which entities linked to Hezbollah allegedly used the U.S. financial system to launder money through West Africa and back to the group’s base of Lebanon.

The seizure stems from a civil lawsuit filed last year by federal prosecutors in Manhattan against defunct Lebanese Canadian Bank, or LCB, and two Lebanese exchange houses seeking more than $480 million in funds allegedly derived from drug trafficking and other criminal activity passing through the U.S. financial system.

The seizure was reported by The Wall Street Journal, and there’s more here.

Hezbollah is a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The group’s leadership has denied engaging in money laundering to finance its activity.

Prosecutors said Monday they seized $150 million from a New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, or BLF. Société Générale de Banque au Liban, which bought LCB in September 2011 for $580 million, paid for part of the transaction through BLF. The seized funds are substitutes for the money in the LCB account in escrow at BLF, prosecutors said.

The warrants to seize the funds were issued August 15, but made public Monday. Neither BLF nor Société Générale de Banque au Liban were accused of wrongdoing, prosecutors said.

“Money is the lifeblood of terrorist and narcotics organizations, and while banks which launder money for terrorists and narco-traffickers may be located abroad, today’s announcement demonstrates that those banks and their assets are not beyond our reach,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

A lawyer for LCB declined to comment to the Journal.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated LCB as a “primary money-laundering concern” under the Patriot Act in February 2011, accusing it at the time of facilitating money laundering by a network of drug traffickers spanning South America, Europe, the Middle East and West Africa.

Société Générale de Banque au Liban acquired LCB’s assets and liabilities following the Treasury’s finding.

According to the civil complaint filed last year, the alleged scheme involved cash sent from Lebanon to the U.S. between January 2007 and early 2011 to buy used cars that were later sold in West Africa for cash.

The money from from the car sales was then allegedly transferred back to Lebanon with proceeds from narcotics trafficking and other crimes, prosecutors said in the complaint.

Correction: The seized funds came from the New York correspondent account of Lebanon’s Banque Libano Francaise SAL, not from a U.S. account at Société Générale de Banque au Liban.”

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

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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.


FBI gets a broader role in coordinating domestic intelligence activities

June 20, 2012

The Washington Post on June 19, 2012 released the following:

“By Greg Miller, Published: June 19

The FBI has been given an expanded role in coordinating the domestic intelligence-gathering activities of the CIA and other agencies under a plan enacted this year by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., officials said.

The bureau’s highest-ranking field agents now also serve as the DNI’s representatives across the country. The change is intended to improve collaboration, but some officials say it has created new friction between the FBI and CIA.

Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, assistant director of national intelligence, said the move is meant to enhance the FBI’s ability to lead efforts by federal, state and local authorities to confront terrorist threats and other domestic security concerns.

“This is a connecting bridge between intelligence and law enforcement,” Flynn said in an interview. He added that the DNI designation does not give regional FBI officials power over other agencies’ operations or personnel.

The program was endorsed by CIA Director David H. Petraeus and officials at other affected agencies. But concerns have surfaced in some regional offices that the FBI is exploiting its new clout at the CIA’s expense.

One former U.S. official said senior FBI agents recently used a meeting with executives from major manufacturing companies on the West Coast to instruct them to cut off contact with the CIA.

The FBI’s message was that “they were now in charge of relationships with the corporate sector, so the folks there should feel no need to deal with the agency,” said the former U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. The FBI agents apparently were not aware that a former CIA officer was among the executives in attendance. The former official declined to provide more details about the location of the meeting or its participants.

FBI spokesman Michael Kortan said that officials could not confirm the alleged incident and that such a statement to company executives by an FBI agent would be inaccurate.

Although the CIA is best known for its spy work overseas, the agency has stations in most major U.S. cities. The National Resources Division, as this group is known, routinely debriefs executives, university officials and other Americans who volunteer to share information gathered on their trips out of the country. The CIA is also allowed to approach foreign nationals in the United States and try to recruit them as spies upon their return to their home countries.

The FBI dramatically expanded its domestic intelligence-gathering operations as part of a reorganization after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Flynn said the DNI program is not meant to disrupt CIA efforts in the United States. “This program doesn’t change the authorities of the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security or anybody else in the system,” he said. “But there is more of a responsibility to share and work together.”

It is unclear whether the change will require the CIA to disclose more information about its domestic sources. In his memoir, former senior CIA official Henry A. Crumpton writes that during his tenure as head of the National Resources Division, the FBI “repeatedly demanded the identities of NR sources” and he refused.

The new DNI program began as a pilot operation in four cities — New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago — and was expanded to 12 regions covering the entire country this year.

The program is analogous to an arrangement overseas in which CIA station chiefs serve as the nation’s senior intelligence officers and main points of contact with their foreign counterparts. A 2009 proposal to change that policy and give the DNI power to select officers from other spy services prompted a fierce bureaucratic battle that the CIA won.

A CIA spokeswoman said the agency has not opposed the move to elevate FBI agents in the United States. “The CIA endorses and supports the DNI’s decision,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood. “The decision makes sense, and the program is working well. DCIA Petraeus has already met with several of the domestic DNI representatives and has been impressed with them and with their cooperation.””

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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.


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.””

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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.


Documents provide rare insight into FBI’s terrorism stings

April 16, 2012

The Washington Post on April 13, 2012 released the following:

“By Peter Finn

Days before his arrest in Pittsburgh last month, Khalifa Ali al-Akili posted a remarkable message on his Facebook page: A mysterious man who spoke often of jihad had tried to interest Akili in buying a gun, then later introduced him to a second man, whom Akili was assured was “all about the struggle.”

It smelled, Akili wrote on Facebook, like a setup.

“I had a feeling that I had just played out a part in some Hollywood movie where I had just been introduced to the leader of a ‘terrorist’ sleeper cell,” Akili wrote.

When he googled a phone number provided by the second man, it turned out to be to Shahed Hussain, one of the FBI’s most prolific and controversial informants for terrorism cases. Soon the sting was off; Akili was subsequently arrested on gun — not terrorism — charges, which he has denied.

It was a rare miss for Hussain, 55, who has played a wealthy, dapper member of a Pakistani terrorist group in several FBI operations over nearly a decade.

This role has inflamed Muslim and civil rights activists, who describe Hussain as an “agent provocateur,” and prompted harsh comments from the presiding judge in a 2010 case, who questioned his honesty and the aggressiveness of the FBI’s tactics.

“I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition,” said U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon at the sentencing of four men from Newburgh, N.Y., convicted on terrorism charges. She added, “That does not mean there was no crime.”

Hussain declined to speak about his work for the FBI, saying in a brief phone interview, “I can’t say anything for security reasons.” The FBI declined to discuss Hussain or McMahon’s comments.

But the blown Pittsburgh sting and the voluminous court records from the 2010 case have provided rare insight into a tactic used increasingly by the FBI since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in which suspects are monitored almost from the beginning of plots and provided with means to help them carry them out. The targets in such stings have included Washington’s Metro subway system, the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.

There have been 138 terrorism or national security cases involving informants since 2001, and 51 of those have come over the past three years, according to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School in New York. The center said the government secured convictions in 91 percent of those cases.

Law enforcement officials say stings are a vital tactic for heading off terrorism. But civil rights activists and others say the FBI has been identifying individuals with radical views who, despite brash talk, might have little ability to launch attacks without the government’s help.

“It almost seems like the government is creating a theatrical event that produces more fear in the community,” said Michael German, a senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union and a former FBI agent who worked undercover.

Yet in these terrorism stings, every attempted defense that has alleged entrapment by the government has failed, according to Fordham’s Center on National Security. The FBI said that record speaks volumes and rejected any suggestion that it has invented terrorist plots. “They present the idea,” FBI spokesman Kathleen Wright said of the targets of investigations. “It is not us coming up with these ideas.”

Officials said the subjects of these stings are the ones who first generate suspicion — by contacting terrorists overseas, attempting to secure weapons or speaking of a desire to commit violence.

One of the prosecutors in the 2010 case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Halperin, said in court that confidential informants such as Hussain are an “important tool” for the FBI. “Mr. Hussain is Pakistani. He speaks Urdu. He speaks Pashto. He’s Muslim. He can read Arabic,” Halperin said. “All of these things make Mr. Hussain a very valuable asset for the FBI.”

The birth of an asset

In testimony for the 2010 terrorism case, for which Hussain appeared as a witness for the prosecution, he described himself as a member of a politically connected family in Pakistan who fled to the United States with his wife and children after he was falsely accused of murder during a government crackdown against the secular MQM party. He arrived on a fake British passport in 1994, Hussain testified.

In the years since, his relatives in Pakistan have transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to him, allowing him and his family to acquire gas stations, a beverage center and a motel in Upstate New York, according to financial records produced in court. He also testified that former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, during a trip to New York, gave his son $40,000 to buy a new car, but the judge, McMahon, questioned the veracity of the claim.

It was not the only time McMahon expressed doubts about Hussain’s honesty.

“By the end of the trial, the jury knew that Hussain had lied about his finances to at least two courts (the Northern District of New York and the Northern District Bankruptcy Court), lied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, lied to the Town of Colonie and its school district about his residence, lied to potential customers of his motel, and lied to the IRS about his income at tax time,” wrote McMahon.

In late 2001, Hussain was arrested on federal fraud charges of helping immigrants illegally secure driver’s licenses. Hussain, who had been working as a translator for the Department of Motor Vehicles, faced a possible prison term and deportation to Pakistan. He pleaded guilty and, as part of his agreement with the government, cooperated with the FBI by going undercover to secure evidence against several former associates in the scheme, including his mistress.

Hussain excelled in this new role — a fact grudgingly accepted even by his detractors.

“Both his physical and emotional presence seemed impervious to chastisement, to exposure, to anything — nothing seemed to throw his casual defiance off course,” said Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham’s Center on National Security, who has observed Hussain in court.

The bureau also has sent Hussain to London and Pakistan, where he infiltrated a terrorist training camp, according to court testimony.

In the summer of 2003, Hussain first adopted the persona of the suave, moneyed terrorist at the direction of the FBI. The object of the sting was Yassin Aref, an Iraqi Kurd and the spiritual leader of an Albany mosque.

Aref was convicted of participating in a plot to launder funds from the sale of a shoulder-fired missile. Aref’s attorneys said he simply saw what he thought was a loan between Hussain and the owner of a struggling pizza parlor who was also convicted. Aref and the owner of the pizza parlor were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The informant at work

On another assignment for the FBI, Hussain went to Newburgh’s Masjid al-Ikhlas mosque 12 times before he met James Cromitie, a convert to Islam and a stocker at a Wal-Mart, in June 2008.

In a poor community, Hussain struck an odd figure, driving Hummers and BMWs and wearing designer clothes.

Salahuddin Muhammad, imam of the mosque, said in an interview that some people suspected that Hussain was an FBI informant. He was too eager to engage people in conversation about jihad, Muhammad said.

Cromitie, who attended the mosque infrequently, either didn’t hear of the suspicions of others or didn’t care.

Hussain later told the FBI that Cromitie said: “Look, brother, I might have done a lot of sin, but to die like a shaded (martyr), I will go to paradise . . . I want to do something to America.”

By July, Hussain had told Cromitie he was part of a Pakistani terrorist group. Cromitie, who had multiple drug convictions but no history of violence, said he wanted to join, according to the FBI’s debriefing of the informant.

During a November 2008 trip to Philadelphia with Hussain, which coincided with the terrorist attacks on several locations in Mumbai, India, Cromitie made some of his most incendiary statements.

Cromitie hadn’t heard of the attacks, but Hussain pointed out that one of the targets in Mumbai was a Jewish center, according to transcripts of conversations that were secretly recorded and later played in court.

“I’d like to get a synagogue,” Cromitie said.

The judge later noted in a finding of fact that “whenever Hussain asked Cromitie to act on those sentiments — make a plan, pick a target, find recruits, introduce the [confidential informant] to like-minded brothers, procure guns and conduct surveillance — Cromitie did none of the above.”

McMahon said that at this point Hussain began to add “more worldly inducements” to the “offer of paradise” beginning with a BMW “but only after Cromitie had completed a mission.”

Closing the net

Hussain left for Pakistan on Dec. 18, 2008, and didn’t return to the United States for two months. While he was away, the FBI briefed officials at Stewart International Airport in New York on the investigation but assured them that “Cromitie was unlikely to commit an act without the support of the FBI source.”

Indeed, Cromitie said, “I just dropped everything,” according to the transcript of the conversation. But when Hussain returned, Cromitie’s enthusiasm was rekindled.

McMahon later wrote that “the court believes and specifically finds that it was about this time when Hussain offered Cromitie as much as a quarter million dollars to participate in a mission.”

Such an offer was not authorized by the FBI, the prosecutor told the court. Hussain denied making it, saying the reference to a specific amount of money was not intended to be literal. McMahon, in her sentencing, said she did not believe him.

After a surveillance drive around Stewart Air National Guard Base on Feb. 24, 2009, Cromitie cut off communication with Hussain for six weeks, he later testified. Cromitie pretended to have left town, although he was still in Newburgh.

On April 5, Cromitie called Hussain. “I have to try to make some money, brother,” Cromitie said.

“I told you. I can make you $250,000, but you don’t want it, brother. What can I tell you,” Hussain said.

Cromitie soon was back in.

On May 20, 2009, Hussain, Cromitie and three associates drove south from Newburgh carrying three duffel bags, each stuffed with nearly 40 pounds of explosives and 500 steel ball bearings to maximize casualties at a synagogue and a Jewish community center in the Bronx. After bombing them, the men planned to double back north to Stewart Air National Guard base near Newburgh to launch a stinger missile at parked military planes.

But the FBI had provided the bombs and the missile and had rendered them harmless.

All four Newburgh men were later convicted on terrorism charges in a jury trial and sentenced to 25 years in prison. They have appealed.

On the final drive to the Bronx, Hussain tried to get Cromitie to prime the bombs by following his instructions on which wires to connect, Hussain testified. But Cromitie and the others couldn’t figure it out, and Hussain had to stop the car and do it himself.

When they got to the Bronx, Hussain had to explain how to operate a car key fob so Cromitie could open the first of the pre-parked cars and plant the bomb.

Afterward, Hussain asked him if he had turned the bomb on. “I forgot,” Cromitie replied.

Hussain told him not to worry, it could still be detonated.

Cromitie then set off to plant the other two bombs, but he couldn’t open the trunk of the next car. Hussain told Cromitie by walkie-talkie to just put them in the back seat.

Hussain then signaled for the FBI to move in.”

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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 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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Holder expected to explain rationale for targeting U.S. citizens abroad

March 5, 2012

The Washington Post on March 4, 2012 released the following:

“By Sari Horwitz and Peter Finn

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday plans to provide the most detailed account to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing U.S. citizens abroad, as it did in last year’s airstrike against an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, officials said.

The rationale Holder plans to offer resembles, in its broad strokes, those previously offered by lower-ranking officials. But his speech Monday will mark a new and higher-profile phase of the administration’s campaign to justify lethal action in those rare instances in which U.S. citizens, such as New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki, join terrorist causes devoted to harming their homeland.

Civil libertarians and other critics have been demanding a more thorough and public accounting of the administration’s logic since the killing of Awlaki in September. Administration officials have relied on a classified opinion, written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, that provides a legal framework for the unusual action, but they have refused repeated requests to release it despite intense internal debate on the subject.

Holder plans to argue that the killing of an American terrorist abroad is legal under the 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force, according to an official briefed on the speech, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details ahead of its formal release. This official also said Holder plans to say that the U.S. right to self-defense is not limited to traditional battlefields as the government pursues terrorists who present an imminent threat.

Awlaki, 40, was a skilled propagandist and the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has attempted a number of terrorist attacks on the United States, according to administration officials. He had been placed on “kill lists” compiled by the CIA and and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki died when a joint CIA-JSOC drone operation fired missiles at him.

He was the first U.S. citizen deliberately targeted by the U.S. government.

Major address on security

The Awlaki operation was carried out after the administration requested and received the Justice Department opinion saying that targeting and killing U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law, according to administration officials. The classified memo also included intelligence material about his operational role within al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

Senior Obama administration officials, including John O. Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism adviser, and Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, have given speeches that offered a broad rationale for U.S. drone attacks on individuals in al-Qaeda and associated forces.

On Feb. 22, in a speech at Yale Law School, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including U.S. citizens, is justified and legal. He did not mention Awlaki by name or the secret CIA drone program.”

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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

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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.


F.B.I. Scrutinized for Amassing Data on American Communities

October 21, 2011

The New York Times on October 20, 2011 released the following:

“By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected information about religious, ethnic and national-origin characteristics of American communities, according to internal F.B.I. documents made public by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday. Citing the materials, the group urged the Justice Department to tighten restrictions on F.B.I. powers.

The documents show that in recent years, agents identified Arab-American and Muslim communities in Michigan as a potential terrorist recruitment ground; noted an increase in the African-American population of Georgia when analyzing “Black Separatist” groups; identified Chinese and Russian communities in San Francisco as a place to look for organized crime syndicates; and highlighted Latino communities as potentially harboring the Central American gang MS-13.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the A.C.L.U. asserted that the documents showed that “the F.B.I. is illegally and unconstitutionally” targeting people for investigation based on their race or religion. It asked Mr. Holder to bar agents from considering this kind of factor; current rules forbid the use of race or ethnicity unless describing a particular suspect, but contain a broad exception for national security or border-related investigations.

The F.B.I., however, said agents were doing their jobs by analyzing potential threats within their areas of responsibility. It said that the bureau was obeying rules barring investigative activity based “solely” on religion, race or ethnicity, but that such factors could help identify particular threats as well as potential victims.

“Certain terrorist and criminal groups are comprised of persons primarily from a particular ethnic or geographic community, which must be taken into account when trying to determine if there are threats to the United States,” said Michael P. Kortan, an F.B.I. spokesman.

The files, obtained by the A.C.L.U. under the Freedom of Information Act, were produced by F.B.I. field offices as part of a strategy the F.B.I. calls “domain awareness.” That strategy has been central to the decade-long effort to transform the bureau into a domestic intelligence agency that seeks to uncover potential threats and disrupt them before they can reach fruition. This effort grew out of the failure to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Civil liberties groups say the Justice Department has gone too far in loosening restrictions on its powers.

An F.B.I. manual on investigative guidelines issued in 2008 by Michael B. Mukasey, then the attorney general, tells agents not to engage in racial profiling, but authorizes them to use religion or ethnicity as a factor — as long as it is not the only one — when selecting subjects for scrutiny. (The F.B.I. issued a revised manual to agents on Oct. 15, but has not yet made it public. An official said that the revised manual expanded by several pages a section describing what agents may and may not do in mapping communities, but that it provided greater detail, not substantive changes.)

In a conference call, Hina Shamsi, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s National Security Project, said the documents showed that the loosened rules had led to an “extremely pernicious” practice of ascribing propensity to crimes to people based on their ethnicity or religion.

“It’s counterproductive because it alienates local communities from their government, and it also sends the message that the government views prejudice as acceptable,” she said.

Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who now works for the A.C.L.U., connected the ethnic mapping to a controversy over F.B.I. training and reference materials, first reported by Wired magazine, that portrayed all Muslims as having a proclivity for terrorism. The A.C.L.U. released additional such materials; the bureau promised last month to review its training and reference materials that refer to culture or religion.

Mr. German said the racial mapping documents and the disputed training documents showed a common “theme of mass suspicion of an entire group based on racial characteristics or religion.” He said the trained agents might be “predisposed to treating everyone from a particular group as suspect.”

The A.C.L.U. also said that since 2008, agents had been authorized to begin low-level investigations, called assessments, of a person or a group without having any prior factual basis for suspecting the target of wrongdoing. The rights group also asked Mr. Holder to eliminate that authority, and it released an F.B.I. document shedding new light on the scope of the information that agents collect in an assessment.

The document showed that agents were told to identify a target’s phone numbers, addresses and e-mail accounts and see whether they turned up anything in searches of law enforcement and intelligence databases; collecting information about the target’s job, including access to hazardous materials; uncovering a target’s overseas travel history for the past year; looking for licenses for things like firearms or explosives; and scrutinizing any other adults the target lives with.”

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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.


Prosecutors: Women talk of jihad in recorded calls

October 12, 2011

CBS News on October 12, 2011 released the following:

“(AP) MINNEAPOLIS — Two Minnesota women accused of funneling money to a terror group in Somalia talked about collecting money for al-Shabab, supporting fighters instead of other charities and the possibility that FBI was listening in on their conversations, according to hours of recorded phone calls played for jurors.

Prosecutors have built the bulk of their case by playing more than 80 phone calls recorded during a 10-month wiretap on the home and cellphones of Amina Farah Ali, 35. In those calls, prosecutors allege, Ali is heard talking to her co-defendant, 64-year-old Hawo Mohamed Hassan, as well as leaders of al-Shabab in Somalia. The calls include recordings of teleconferences in which the women gave religious lectures and collected donations.

Ali and Hassan are accused of being part of a “deadly pipeline” that routed money and fighters from the U.S. to Somalia. The women, U.S. citizens of Somali descent, are charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The women have said they were raising money for needy refugees in Somalia.

The recorded calls are all in Somali. Jurors are following along with written transcripts that have been translated into English by the government.

In one October 2008 call between Ali and Hassan, prosecutors allege that as the two women were discussing where the money should go, Ali said the priority be those who stand up for Islam. “Let the civilians die,” she said. In a Feb. 10, 2009, teleconference, Ali told others, “Let’s forget about the other charities — how about the jihad?”

Ali and Hassan are among 20 people charged in Minnesota’s long-running federal investigations into recruiting and financing for al-Shabab, which the U.S. considers a terror group with ties to al-Qaida. Investigators believe at least 21 men left Minnesota — home to the country’s largest Somali community — to join al-Shabab. Though others have pleaded guilty to related charges, the women are the first to go on trial.

Ali faces 12 counts of providing such support — for allegedly sending more than $8,600 to the group from September 2008 through July 2009. Hassan faces three counts of lying to the FBI.

Since last week, prosecutors have been methodically presenting evidence to connect Ali’s phone conversations to the counts against her, matching dollar figures mentioned in calls to phone numbers or accounts of al-Shabab members, and to receipts from hawalas, or money transfer businesses.

According to some of the wide-ranging calls, Ali gets updates from an al-Shabab member about the fighting in Somalia. In many, she tells others how to send funds to Somalia. She gives fictitious names and the numbers of al-Shabab accounts to those who will be sending the money, and talks about sending it in small amounts to avoid detection, prosecutors said.

In one call, Ali explains she will not get a license for her charity because she doesn’t want to report where the money is going. “I don’t want to lie to God,” she said.

Ali’s attorney, Dan Scott, noted during cross-examination of FBI Special Agent Michael Wilson that his client took steps to ensure the money people donated specifically for orphans went to the orphans — and nowhere else. In one call that took place in November 2008, Scott notes, Ali ticks off a list of donations, totaling $7,000, that went to a variety of causes including the wounded, mentally ill, poor people — and al-Shabab.

Scott also noted that after the U.S. declared al-Shabab a terror group in February 2008, the FBI made no attempt to “inform her that she should not be sending money to this newly declared foreign terrorist organization.”

In one call between Ali and Hassan, dated May 6, 2009, Hassan and Ali talk about sending girls out to collect money in Seattle, North Carolina, and elsewhere. In that call, Hassan says others should “forget about the families at this moment, because the frontline is empty.”

In another call between Ali and Hassan, on April 3, 2009, the two women talk about how anyone could be listening in to the teleconferences, including “all troublemakers, FBI and people sent by them and filth.”

In a teleconference on Feb. 10, 2009, an unidentified man asks who the fundraising is for. Ali replies: “Brother, whom do you want to give it to? The orphans, the poor … the Mujahidin (holy warriors)? Actually, jihad is your duty brother. What are you going to pledge?””

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.

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