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FBI warns of retaliation from ISIS over recent airstrikes

FBI/DHS issues bulletin over potential ISIS attacks in America

 

Both Homeland Security and FBI have warned local law enforcement agencies across America to the possible retaliation from ISIS sympathizers in the U.S. Both agencies released a bulletin saying that they are “unaware of any specific, credible threats against the Homeland” and find most threats to the U.S. homeland by supporters of ISIS “not credible,” they cannot rule out attacks in the United States from sympathizers radicalized by the group’s online propaganda.

“[B]ecause of the individualized nature of the radicalization process – it is difficult to predict triggers that will contribute to [homegrown violent extremists] attempting acts of violence,” the bulletin states. Moreover, such lone offenders “present law enforcement with limited opportunities to detect and disrupt plots, which frequently involve simple plotting against targets of opportunity,” according to the bulletin.

Tweet from possible ISIS account
Tweet from possible ISIS account

The bulletin also discussed ISIS’s social media strategy, emphasizing that ISIS will continue to use Twitter to spread its propaganda; possibly hijacking other news events to promote themselves. ISIS has been reported as having hijacked the social media trafficking following the California earthquake. The bulletin cited the Foley execution video and the posting, earlier this month, of an ISIS flag photo in front of the White House.

whitehouse

The recent beheading of Foley was in retaliation for American airstrikes on ISIS extremists. ISIS is holding one other journalist, Steven Soltoff, and has threatened to kill him. DHS and the FBI have often released these “bulletins” as a a generic “FYI” to local, state and federal law enforcement who don’t have the same access to classified information that the nation’s top counter terrorism officials see every day.

ISIS has issued threats against the U.S. homeland before. In a recent video series, Vice Media embedded with ISIS militants and recorded an ISIS militant saying, “God willing, we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”

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Barack Obama, US Senate, Drone strikes

Obama approves drone surveillance over Syria

Obama aproves both manned and unmanned surveillance over Syria

WASHINGTON – President Obama has authorized drone surveillance flights over Syria even as Syria demanded the U.S. government seek permission before launching any airstrikes on its territory against ISIS targets. The main concern the Obama administration is facing, is how to target the Sunni extremists without aiding Syrian President Assad.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced that the Pentagon is sending in manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights over Syria; both drones and U2 spy planes will be used. President Obama authorized the flights over the weekend. The order was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Wall Street Journal; “The Pentagon is preparing to conduct reconnaissance flights over Syria,” “There is no decision yet to do strikes, but in order to help make that decision, you want to get as much situational awareness as possible.” These flights are a huge step towards direct military action in Syria, which could change the course of Syria’s civil war.

The Pentagon is discussing military options that would strike the heart of ISIS near the “erased” border between Syria and Iraq, as opposed to being behind enemy lines. Syria offered its hand in fighting the ISIS extremists, however the Assad government demanded the White House coordinate airstrikes with them or they would consider them an “act of aggression.” Questions of whether Obama should authorize airstrikes has increased since the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

This latest move against ISIS comes days after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem warned the U.S. government against unilateral action to counter ISIS in Syria following the group’s takeover of a critical airbase in Syria’s Raqqah province.

Syria is ready to cooperate and coordinate on the regional and international level in the war on terror,” he said, according to the AP. “But any effort to combat terrorism should be coordinated with the Syrian government.”

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James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube

British Intelligence narrowing in on suspect of James Foley murder

British Intelligence close to identifying ISIS fighter “John”

James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube
James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube

British Intelligence agents think they have positively identified “John”; John is the ISIS member that killed American freelance journalist James Foley. According to The Telegraph, both MI5 and MI6 have been using voice recognition technology to identify the ISIS fighter, spoke on the video with a heavy British accent.

British Ambassador to the U.S. Peter Westmacott appeared on Meet The Press; he was asked about how soon we’ll be able to have an identification of the suspect. He responded by saying that “I think we are close. I’ve been in touch, obviously, in the last day or two with my colleagues at home. We’re not yet in a position to say exactly who this is, but there is some very sophisticated voice identification technology and other measures that we have which should allow us to be very clear about who this person is before very long.”

According to Fox News, a 23-year-old rapper named Abdel Majed Abdel Bary is the main suspect in the death of Foley. The Sunday Times and Sunday People identified Bary as a member of a group of at least three British-born ISIS fighters known among former hostages as “The Beatles.” Westmacott did admit that as many as 500 British subjects have gone to Syria and Iraq in support of jihad.

ISIS is still holding American journalist Steven Sotloff hostage and has been threatened with death. On Sunday, another kidnapped American journalist was released. Peter Theo Curtis, 45, who writes under the name Theo Padnos, had been held by the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

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Ferguson Police

White House conducting review of military equipment being sent to police forces

White House to review military equipment being sent to police

Ferguson Police

After massive riots in Ferguson and Police wearing and using military equipment, The White House is weighing whether the federal government should continue to arm local police departments. The review will consider whether the government should continue to provide military grade equipment and if whether local police have sufficient training to use the equipment. The government will also consider whether it is keeping a close enough watch on equipment inventories, and how the weapons and other gear are used.

. “The whole country and every representative and senator have seen the visuals, and at some level, it made all of us uncomfortable.” Senator McCaskill (D)

America saw the equipment being used against the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, when police officers launched tear gas at protestors and officers rode military-grade vehicles. “The whole country and every representative and senator have seen the visuals, and at some level, it made all of us uncomfortable,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who will lead a hearing in September into police use of military-style equipment. “It’s a moment where we can take a timeout and look at these policies.”

Changes in this regular tradition would change the role of the local police. After the 9/11 attacks local police were seen as the front line defenders for America in the “War on Terror.” The agency responsible for transferring the equipment to the police forces across the country known as The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has put the total value of equipment transferred at $5.1 billion dollars; this includes weapons, vehicles, clothing, helicopters, and boats. According to top law enforcement officials, only 5% of the equipment is weapons.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement saying “this equipment flowed to local police forces because they were increasingly being asked to assist in counterterrorism.” But he also said that “displays of force in response to mostly peaceful demonstrations can be counterproductive,” and so “it makes sense to take a look at whether military-style equipment is being acquired for the right purposes and whether there is proper training on when and how to deploy it.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby released a statement saying Secretary Chuck Hagel is “keeping an open mind” about the program, said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. “He shares the president’s concerns about any blurring of lines between the military and local law enforcement, of course, certainly, as that concern could lead to the use of military equipment.” Kirby mentioned that most equipment transferred doesn’t include weapons or vehicles. Democrats and Libertarians have come together for an end to NSA’s infringing on civil rights.

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Bob McDonnell

Former Governor McDonnell continues to deny any wrongdoing

Even under oath, he denies any wrongdoing

 Bob McDonnell
Governor Bob McDonnell | CREDIT: Wiki Commons

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell claims he did nothing wrong when he accepted $70,000 in loans from fellow businessman Jonnie Williams.. McDonnell ended his third day of testimony saying “I spent 38 years in public office, and I would not trade that for a golf match or dinner with anybody.” McDonnell and his wife are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts from Williams in exchange for promoting William’s company’s dietary supplements.

McDonnell was asked whether he committed the crimes, he’s been charged with and said no. He does take responsibility for the decisions that landed him in court. McDonnell and his supporters have long said that he may have used bad judgment but did not break any laws. Friday’s testimony focused on the gifts he received from Williams. His wife’s legal team will question McDonnell on Monday.

Virginia has to most loos laws in regards to gifts received by public officials. A governor can accept just about any gift, but he must report anything valued at $50 or more. In addition, if a company or individual gives him several smaller gifts, he must disclose those when the total amount reaches $100. The former governor faces 14 counts including claim that he understated his liabilities on both 2012 and 2013 loan applications.

Prosecutors are attacking McDonnell saying that Williams gave these gifts to gain access to other state officials. According to his testimony, McDonnell said Williams did not receive any special treatment compared to what he would have given any other state company. They also claim that he was desperate need of money, however the governor rebutted by showing the jury that he had an excellent credit score during the time in question.

McDonnell claimed he misjudged Williams and said he thought was a true friend. “I had no idea he would come into federal court and make false statements about me.” Thursday’s testimony focused on his “broken marriage” which the defense was working on building up the claim that the McDonnell’s could not have been conspiring because they were barely speaking during most of the Governor’s term.

The former governor’s wife faces the same 14 charges but will not be taking the stand in her own defense. She has a separate defense team apart from the Governor.

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Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl | CREDIT: Wiki Commons

Bergdahl prisoner swap deemed illegal by GAO

Non-partisan office declares Bergdahl prisoner swap illegal

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl | CREDIT: Wiki Commons
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl | CREDIT: Wiki Commons

After months of political bickering the Government Accountability Office determined that the Pentagon broke the law when they swapped five Taliban leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The GAO issued their legal opinion saying the Defense Department violated the law by failing to notify Capitol Hill committees at least 30 days in advance.

The report also pointed out that the Pentagon broke another law by using funds that were not “technically” available. However, the Defense Department denies any wrongdoing. Defense Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby appeared on Fox News Thursday saying, “the operation to retrieve Sgt. Bergdahl was lawfully conducted and that was also the judgment of the Justice Department. Nothing has changed about our view that this was a lawful recovery operation.”

Both parties argued about the security threats posed by the release of the “Taliban Five” from Guantanamo, and the late notification by the Pentagon that they were going forward with the swap. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski released a statement saying the president “clearly defied” the law. “We have all seen the President decide to override the concept of checks and balances in many questionable executive actions, but the GAO opinion confirms that by doing so in connection with the release of Bowe Bergdahl, he engaged in a clear violation of the law,” she said in a statement. “I hope this opinion by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office sends a clear signal to the President that his recent shift towards unilateral action is not consistent with this nation’s principles and our carefully designed separation of powers.”

It’s still unseen whether the reported findings will result in any legal complaint remains to be seen. House Armed Services Committee has prepared a “resolution of disapproval” potentially to be considered later this year about the swap, but such a measure is nonbinding. The most recent Defense spending bill states that no money can be used to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to another country “except in accordance” with a separate, related Defense law. That law requires the secretary of Defense to notify key congressional committees at least 30 days before such a transfer.

The Bergdahl swap took place May 31st, however the report said the committees were only notified between May 31 and June 2. The GAO reported that the DOD violated the Anti-deficiency Act, which bars spending by agencies above the amount of money that Congress has obligated.

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James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube

Terrorist who murdered James Foley is British National “John”

Foley executioner known as John by previous held hostages

James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube
James Foley Execution | CREDIT: YouTube

Global investigations are underway to identify the man who executed journalist James Foley. Foley is the journalist who was beheaded in a YouTube video. The suspect spoke with a distinctive British accent, causing people to believe he may be one of the many British citizens who have joined up with extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.

In a Guardian Newspaper exclusive a former hostage of ISIS describe the ISIS fighter in the video as “smart, well-schooled and a true believer in radical Islam.” The hostage called his captors The Beatles because of their accent and up-bringing. Ironically the man in the video calls himself John. He claims to be the main negotiator during talks earlier this year to release 11 ISIS hostages. FBI, MI5 and Scotland Yard are racing to put a name to the face of Foley’s killer. The Guardian believes that Scotland Yard’s involvement hints that Foley’s executioner may have some type of criminal past.

Both Britain and the US have a massive pile of clues to sort through in hopes of identifying him, including images, voice recognition, social media postings and testimony from former hostages. According to the National Post, the man sounds like he is in his 20s and was raised or educated in Britain but had a more formal Standard English pronunciation.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that he has launched a criminal investigation into the death of Foley. During a speech Holder gave in Washington he spoke directly to the ISIS fighters responsible for Foley’s death saying “Those who would perpetrate such acts need to understand something — this Justice Department, this Department of Defense, this nation, we have long memories and our reach is very wide,” Holder said. “We will not forget what happened, and people will be held accountable, one way or the other.”  Holder continues to support the use of the criminal justice system as a tool to try terrorists, highlighting past convictions in both Bush and Obama administrations.

Holder would not say what kind of action he would take in this investigation to capture the suspects. History has shown us that American investigators have trouble investigating on foreign soil such as Libya.

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