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Category Archives: Terrorism Investigations

Welcome to Brooklyn: 2 AQ members who attacked US forces abroad brought to US for civilian trial

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 12:27 PM

An interesting development in the ongoing debate regarding the optimal disposition for captured al Qaeda members: The Justice Department has just announced that two al Qaeda members (both citizens of Yemen) were captured in Saudi Arabia (and have now been “lawfully expelled” to the United States to face a civilian criminal trial in the Eastern . . .
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President Obama Comments on Back-doors in Encryption

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

We’ve yet to find a transcript of President Obama’s remarks during today’s press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but according to several news outlets, the President made a number of interesting statements regarding cybersecurity and data encryption. “If we get into a situation which the technologies do not allow us at all to track . . .
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Did the FBI Just Prevent an Attack in DC from a Homegrown ISIS Supporter?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

A very, very big arrest in Cincinnati today, involving allegations that a man named Christopher Cornell (online alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah) had planned to travel to DC in order to carry out an attack (via assault rifle) at the Capitol. It appears Cornell was arrested today after he purchased two ArmaLite M-15s. How did the . . .
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War or Crime? Figure it Out

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Friday, January 9, 2015 at 1:11 PM

In the Clinton Administration, I participated in vigorous debates about whether to treat transnational threats, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, as law enforcement or intelligence and war fighting issues.  After September 11, 2001, this issue was thrust into the limelight as the Bush Administration and civil liberties groups argued in public about . . .
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Lone Wolf Terrorism: Understanding the Growing Threat

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta observed in his recent memoir that so-called “lone wolf terrorists”–terrorists who work without group assistance−are a growing threat to the internal security of the United States. It’s an observation that has been echoed by many officials and former officials. Some would respond that the threat of lone wolf . . .
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Supreme Court Denies Cert in Mehanna and Ali Cases

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Monday, October 6, 2014 at 4:17 PM

It’s not just the same-sex marriage cases. The Supreme Court today also denied petitions for certiorari in a pair of cases we’ve been following. The first petition was from Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man who was previously convicted for providing material support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339. Andy Wang provided . . .
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Will the Supreme Court Take Up Mehanna?

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Does translating “radical” Arab texts and videos amount to material support for terrorism? That is the question that would face the Supreme Court, should they decide to take up Mehanna v. United States. (For full background and facts on the case, see our extensive prior coverage here.) The basic facts of Mehanna are simple. The . . .
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Jose Padilla Re-sentenced to 21 Years

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:39 AM

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has re-sentenced Jose Padilla to 21 years in prison for his 2007 conviction for conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and main individuals in a foreign country; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; and providing material support to terrorists. An appellate court had vacated Padilla’s original, 17-and-a-half year sentence, after finding . . .
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Consequence, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Fourth Amendment’s ‘No-Win’ Scenario

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 10:29 AM

And, since I’m catching up on my blogging this morning, let me also recommend this paper by Scott Glick from the National Security Division of DOJ.   Very much relevant to the ongoing meta-data debate and other post-9/11 domestic law enforcement issues.  You may not agree, but it is worth a read. Here’s the abstract: . . .
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Khatalla Transitions from Military to Civilian Custody

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Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM

[Update:  A colleague writes in to say that Khatalla may have been in “civilian” custody, formally speaking, all along.  That may be; I recall a statement after the capture to the effect that the raid was conducted in some fashion under color of FBI authority, albeit with substantial SOF involvement under that umbrella.  This approach, . . .
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Relevant Excerpts from President Obama’s West Point Speech

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Not a lot in President Obama’s West Point speech that is new on Lawfare-related matters. Here are key excerpts. On broad counterterrorism strategy: First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when . . .
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The FBI and the Bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2013

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Two opposite mistakes in an after-the-fact review of a terrorist incident are equally damaging. One is to fail to recognize the powerful difference between foresight and hindsight in evaluating how an investigative or intelligence agency should have behaved.  After the fact, we know on whom we should have focused attention as a suspect, and we . . .
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Thinking about MH370

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Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Fools, they say, rush in where angels fear to tread.  Proving that I am less angelic than foolish (and confident that the blogosphere will quickly forget these musings), I thought I’d offer a few Homeland Security-related thoughts on lessons learned from MH370.   Of course this speculation can be utterly overtaken by events, but even at . . .
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Two Passports on Malysian Air Stolen

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Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 11:06 AM

The news is here.  European officials confirm that at least two of the passengers whose passports were used to board MH370 were not, in fact, on the plane and that those who boarded the plane were using stolen passports.  In a follow on post, I’ll detail some of the steps that the world has taken . . .
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“Overblown” and “Misleading”? The New America Foundation Report on the Role of NSA Surveillance in Preventing Attacks

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Monday, January 13, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Since Edward Snowden unveiled the existence of NSA’s mass surveillance programs in June, various government officials have gone on the record to claim that the programs have prevented terrorist attacks and saved lives. Today the New America Foundation (NAF) released a report that purports to offer evidence that these claims are “overblown and even misleading.” . . .
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On Proliferating State and Local Surveillance Technologies

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Monday, October 14, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Over at Security States,  I have this piece up, about the proliferation of city- and state-operated surveillance technologies—and the need to pair collection rules for these technologies with effective use and access rules.  The piece begins: The New York Times reports today that “Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance.” The main theme is that municipal police and law . . .
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The President’s Surveillance Reform Initiatives: A Section-by-Section Analysis

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Friday, August 9, 2013 at 5:46 PM

During his press conference today (transcript here), President Obama announced a quartet of reform initiatives meant to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of NSA activities and the FISA system, both of which have come under heavy pressure thanks to the Snowden revelations and their aftermath.  Here’s a rough section-by-section analysis of what he said: 1. . . .
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Al Nusrah/Al Shabaab Supporters Brought to the US for Prosecution, and other Terrorism Prosecution News

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Friday, August 9, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Some interesting terrorism-prosecution developments over the past few days that are worth noting. United States v. Mohammed (S.D. Fla.) First, a pair of men (one leaving in Kenya, and the other–who happens to be a naturalized US citizen–living in Saudi Arabia) are in custody in the US facing material support charges based on their efforts . . .
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POTUS Plans to Nominate James B. Comey as Next FBI Director

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 7:29 PM

So report the New York Times and the Washington Post.  

Robin Simcox on MI5 and Homegrown Radicalism

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Robin Simcox, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society in London—who wrote this guest post for Lawfare last year about control orders in the UK—writes in after last week’s horrific terrorist attack in London about the burden on the British intelligence community and the difficulties of preventing and prosecuting domestic terrorism cases: As Lawfare readers . . .
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