Archive for 07/19/2012

GAO Report: US Flight Schools May Still Be Unknowingly Training ‘Foreign’ Terrorists

07/19/2012 Leave a comment

By LEE FERRAN and JASON RYAN, ABC News – “More than a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, some foreign flight students are still not subject to terror database screening until after they’ve completed pilot training, according to a new report from the government’s watchdog.

‘Thus, foreign nationals obtaining flight training with the intent to do harm, such as three of the pilots and leaders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, could have already obtained the training needed to operate an aircraft before they received any type of vetting,’ says report, published today by the Government Accountability Office.

In the Sept. 11 attacks, 19 foreign nationals hijacked four commercial airliners and used the planes as weapons to hit the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in the nation’s capital. Several of the hijackers attended more than a dozen American flight schools in the weeks before the attacks to learn how to fly the jets.

After the attacks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) established the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP), which is designed to prevent flight schools regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration from “providing flight training to a foreign student unless the Secretary of Homeland Security first determines that the student does not pose a threat to aviation or national security.”

But the new GAO report says that the AFSP database is woefully behind and some of the more than 25,000 foreign nationals who were in the FAA airmen registry were not found in the AFSP database, ‘indicating that these individuals had not applied to the AFSP or been vetted by the TSA before taking flight training and receiving an FAA airman certificate.’

‘It is disturbing to learn we could still be vulnerable to the same actions the 9/11 hijackers took over a decade ago,’ said Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Alabama), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Transportation Security.” Read more.

Finland: Meteorite Lights Up Ostrobothnia Sky Before Slamming Into Ground

07/19/2012 Leave a comment

By David Mawby -“An exceptional bright light phenomenon was observed in many parts of Ostobothnia, western Finland, just after 5pm on Tuesday. According to the Ursa astronomical association, this was a meteorite which had passed through the Earth’s upper atmosphere before hitting the ground.

According to Esko Lyytinen of Ursa, the object definitely made it to the ground. He speculated it could be as heavy as dozens of kilograms. The object’s final explosion occurred probably between the towns of Kalajoki and Ylivieska.

Several observations of the object were made by Ursa at locations across Ostrobothnia. The subsonic blast was heard over a wide area.

Amateur astronomers are now eager to find the heavenly body which lies somewhere in the area of Ylivieska and Kalajoki.

Meteorites are a rare occurrence whereas meteors, objects that fail to reach the Earth’s surface, are more common. For example, during the course of the year, the Earth passes through dust clouds which give rise to a phenomenon known as a “meteor shower.” During such an event, streaks of light caused by small rocky particles are visible at regular intervals in the night sky.” Source – yle.

Categories: Cosmic Craziness

Nigeria: Over 5,500 Christians Flee After Islamists Attack Christian Villages, Military Plans Major Offensive Against Boko Haram

07/19/2012 Leave a comment

Angola Press – “ABUJA – More than 5,500 people fled their homes after attacks this month on mainly Christian villages in central Nigeria in which over 100 people were killed, the Red cross said Tuesday.

The violence in the villages in Plateau state ’caused dozens of casualties and forced more than 5,500 people to flee their homes. Over 25 villages were affected,’ the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

On July 7, gunmen suspected of belonging to the Fulani tribe stormed mainly Christian villages and killed more than 80 people.

Another 22 people, including two senior politicians, were killed the next day in an attack, also blamed on the Fulani, on the funeral of the July 7 victims.

‘People left their homes and ran to safety with only the clothes they were wearing. They need everything to survive in this kind of situation,’ said Julia Unger, ICRC’s head in Jos, the state capital, in the statement.” Read more.

Nigerian Military Plans Major Operation After Jos Attacks – “Nigeria’s military appears ready to begin a major operation to raid suspected hideouts across the central Nigerian Plateau State, where insurgents responsible for last week’s violence are thought to be based. More than 200 people were killed in sectarian attacks between mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and Christian Birom villagers near the city of Jos over the weekend of July 9. Police blamed the violence on tribal differences over land, but an Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the attacks, including the wholesale massacre of 63 Christian parishioners taking refuge in a preacher’s house.” Read more.

Flashback: Boko Haram: Our Goal is to Eliminate Followers of Christ – “Terrorist organisation Boko Haram has issued a statement making clear that its goal is to eliminate followers of Christ from Nigeria and establish an Islamic state. ‘The Nigerian state and Christians are our enemies and we will be launching attacks on the Nigerian state and its security apparatus as well as churches until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state … We are responsible for the suicide attack on a church in Jos and also another attack on another church in Biu,’ a spokesman for the group, Abul Qaqa, is said to have told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri over the phone.” Read more.

Jihadi Tourism Hits Europe

07/19/2012 Leave a comment

By Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute – “Increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe are travelling to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and other conflict zones to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Although intelligence agencies have been following the trend since the July 2005 bombings of the London commuter system, which were perpetrated by four home-grown Islamic terrorists, the scale of the problem has come into greater focus in recent weeks.

European security officials are especially concerned about reports that al-Qaeda is recruiting and training Western operatives who have ‘clean’ criminal records and have the ability to travel freely and blend in with European and American cultures…

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, recently provided important context to the threat posed by would-be jihadists. In a rare public address on June 25, Evans said the Olympic Games in London ‘present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so. No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.’

‘In back rooms and in cars and on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here,’ Evans continued. ‘It is essential that we maintain pressure on al-Qaeda.’

Evans also said that al-Qaeda militants are using the countries which toppled their leaders in the Arab Spring as bases to train radical Western youths for potential attacks on Britain: ‘This is the completion of a cycle. Al-Qaida first moved to Afghanistan in the 1990s due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved on to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban. And now some are heading home to the Arab world again.'” Read more.

Flashback: Jihadists Using Switzerland As Base To Promote Islamic Extremism In Europe And Beyond – “Radical Muslim groups are using Switzerland as a base from which to promote Islamic jihad in Europe and beyond. Islamists in Switzerland are providing jihadists with logistical support, and also stepping up their use of Internet websites there to spread Islamic propaganda as well as to incite their supporters to commit acts of terrorism and violence. Swiss authorities have identified at least 10 trips by Islamists from Switzerland to jihadi training camps overseas just during the past 12 months.” Read more.

Flashback: Occupation Without Tanks or Soldiers: European ‘No-Go’ Zones for Non-Muslims Proliferating – “Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of ‘no-go’ areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims. Many of the ‘no-go’ zones function as microstates governed by Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.” Read more.

Experts Say Demise Of Syrian Regime Could Be Just Days Away, Assad May Respond With ‘Devastating Force’

07/19/2012 Leave a comment

Fox News – “U.S. policymakers are bracing for a potential ‘collapse’ of the power structure inside Syria, as the Obama administration closely monitors the intensifying violence in the capital.

Following a bomb attack that left several Syrian regime officials dead, a State Department source forwarded to Fox News an assessment from an independent Middle East analyst who monitors social media in the region and provides occasional guidance to the department.

‘Tweet trends on #Damascus indicate something will collapse in #Syria next 36 hours,’ the message said. ‘Looks a lot like Tripoli did a year ago.’

The note was a reference to the atmosphere in Libya’s capital before Muammar Qaddafi’s regime was overthrown, and Qaddafi was captured and killed.

It’s unclear whether Damascus has entered such a period, but the capital saw an unprecedented attack Wednesday on Bashar Assad’s regime, when a bomb ripped through a high-level security meeting and killed at least three officials.

Syrian TV confirmed the deaths of Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, a former army general and the most senior government official to be killed in the rebels’ battle to oust Assad; Gen. Assef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister who is married to Assad’s elder sister; and Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister who died of wounds suffered in the attack.

Also wounded were Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar and Maj. Gen. Hisham Ikhtiar, who heads the National Security Department. State TV said both were in stable condition.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking alongside British Defense Minister Philip Hammond on Wednesday, said the escalating violence indicates that the rebels feel emboldened and that the government of Assad is suffering ‘probably some fragmentation around the edges’ as it struggles to keep a grip on power.

The bombing was the harshest blow to the government’s inner circle in the 16-month uprising.” Read more.

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