Feds Rate Travelers for Terrorism

AP: Feds Rate Travelers for Terrorism

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Nov 30, 11:47 PM (ET)

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN

(AP) A sign advising ttHE hreat level is seen at Reagan National Airport Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006 in…
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WASHINGTON (AP) – Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

The program’s existence was quietly disclosed earlier in November when the government put an announcement detailing the Automated Targeting System, or ATS, for the first time in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of federal rules. Privacy and civil liberties lawyers, congressional aides and even law enforcement officers said they thought this system had been applied only to cargo.

(AP) Passengers wait at a security checkpoint at Dulles International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2006…
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The Homeland Security Department notice called its program “one of the most advanced targeting systems in the world.” The department said the nation’s ability to spot criminals and other security threats “would be critically impaired without access to this data.”

Still, privacy advocates view ATS with alarm. “It’s probably the most invasive system the government has yet deployed in terms of the number of people affected,” David Sobel, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group devoted to electronic data issues, said in an interview.

Government officials could not say whether ATS has apprehended any terrorists. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Bill Anthony said agents refuse entry to about 45 foreign criminals every day based on all the information they have. He could not say how many were spotted by ATS.

A similar Homeland Security data-mining project, for domestic air travelers – now known as Secure Flight – caused a furor two years ago in Congress. Lawmakers barred its implementation until it can pass 10 tests for accuracy and privacy protection.

In comments to the Homeland Security Department about ATS, Sobel said, “Some individuals will be denied the right to travel and many the right to travel free of unwarranted interference as a result of the maintenance of such material.”

(AP) Passengers stand in line at a security checkpoint at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va….
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Sobel said in the interview the government notice also raises the possibility that faulty risk assessments could cost innocent people jobs in shipping or travel, government contracts, licenses or other benefits.

The government notice says ATS data may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits. In some cases, the data may be shared with courts, Congress and even private contractors.

“Everybody else can see it, but you can’t,” Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer who teaches at Cornell Law school, said in an interview.

But Jayson P. Ahern, an assistant commissioner of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency, said the ATS ratings simply allow agents at the border to pick out people not previously identified by law enforcement as potential terrorists or criminals and send them for additional searches and interviews. “It does not replace the judgments of officers,” Ahern said in an interview Thursday.

Ahern said ATS was first used to rate the risk posed by travelers in the late 1990s, using personal information about them voluntarily supplied by air and cruise lines. A post-9/11 law vastly expanded the program, he said. It required airline and cruise companies to begin in 2002 sending the government electronic data in advance on all passengers and crew entering or leaving the country.

(AP) Passengers make their way through a security checkpoint near a sign explaining the clear plastic…
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This targeting system goes beyond traditional border watch lists, Ahern said. Border agents compare arrival names with watch lists separately from the ATS analysis.

In a privacy impact assessment posted on its Web site this week, Homeland Security said ATS is aimed at discovering high-risk individuals who “may not have been previously associated with a law enforcement action or otherwise be noted as a person of concern to law enforcement.”

Ahern said ATS does this by applying rules derived from the government’s knowledge of terrorists and criminals to the passenger’s travel patterns and records.

For security reasons, Ahern declined to disclose any of the rules, but a Homeland Security document on data-mining gave an innocuous example of a risk assessment rule: “If an individual sponsors more than one fiancee for immigration at the same time, there is likelihood of immigration fraud.”

In the Federal Register, the department exempted ATS from many provisions of the Privacy Act designed to protect people from secret, possibly inaccurate government dossiers. As a result, it said travelers cannot learn whether the system has assessed them. Nor can they see the records “for the purpose of contesting the content.”

Toby Levin, senior adviser in Homeland Security’s Privacy Office, noted that the department pledged to review the exemptions over the next 90 days based on the public comment received. As of Thursday, all 15 public comments received opposed the system outright or criticized its redress procedures.

The Homeland Security privacy impact statement added that “an individual might not be aware of the reason additional scrutiny is taking place, nor should he or she” because that might compromise the ATS’ methods.

Nevertheless, Ahern said any traveler who objected to additional searches or interviews could ask to speak to a supervisor to complain. Homeland Security’s privacy impact statement said that if asked, border agents would hand complaining passengers a one-page document that describes some, but not all, of the records that agents check and refers complaints to Custom and Border Protection’s Customer Satisfaction Unit.

Homeland Security’s statement said travelers can use this office to obtain corrections to the underlying data sources that the risk assessment is based on. “There is no procedure to correct the risk assessment and associated rules stored in ATS as the assessment … will change when the data from the source system(s) is amended.”

“I don’t buy that at all,” said Jim Malmberg, executive director of American Consumer Credit Education Support Services, a private credit education group. Malmberg noted how hard it has been for citizens, including members of Congress and even infants, to stop being misidentified as terrorists because their names match those on anti-terrorism watch lists.

Homeland Security, however, is nearing an announcement of a new effort to improve redress programs and the public’s awareness of them, according to a department privacy official, who requested anonymity because the formal announcement has not been made.

The department says that 87 million people a year enter the country by air and 309 million enter by land or sea. The names of passengers and for all flights and ships entering and leaving are entered into the system for an ATS analysis, Ahern said. He also said the names of vehicle drivers and passengers are entered when they cross the border and Amtrak is voluntarily supplying passenger data for trains to and from Canada.

Ahern said that border agents concentrate on arrivals more than on departures because their resources are limited.

“If this catches one potential terrorist, this is a success,” Ahern said.

On the Net:

Paris: Muslim airport workers lose clearances —- Are the French finally getting it?

Paris: Muslim airport workers lose clearances

Of course, they are claiming discrimination. “Muslim airport workers lose clearances,” by Jamey Keaten for Associated Press, with thanks to Drew:

PARIS – Authorities at Charles de Gaulle airport have stripped several dozen employees — almost all of them Muslims — of their security badges in a crackdown against terrorism, a government official said Friday.Four baggage handlers who lost their clearance filed a joint discrimination complaint this week, alleging they had been unfairly associated with terrorism because they are Muslims, their lawyers said. Some had been in their jobs for up to five years.

The baggage handlers and other employees have been barred from secure areas at the airport since February, Jacques Lebrot, an official who oversees the airport, told The Associated Press in an interview.

The cases were “linked to terrorism, of course,” he said, adding that the crackdown followed recommendations by France’s anti-terrorism coordination unit, UCLAT, as part of an 18-month investigation.

You don’t strip people of their badges for small matters,” he said. The crackdown was part of heightened security in France, after terror attacks in Britain, Spain and the United States in recent years.

Lebrot, citing security reasons, declined to say whether the “several dozen” people — he would not specify how many — who lost their badges had been involved in specific plots.

Mr. X or Y could have been suspected because corresponding facts … suggested he belonged to a sizable network,” Lebrot said, without elaborating. Others could have been stripped of the badges because they were “impressionable and manipulated” by such networks, he said….

In letters from the regional government office, the employees were told that they presented a “significant danger to airport security,” or had shown “personal behavior threatening airport security.”

Lawyers for those who lost their badges said that under police questioning, they were never told of the reasons they lost their badges — but repeatedly were asked about their religion.

“The link among these people is that either they are Arab — or practice their religion in a normal way,” said Eric Moutet, a lawyer for the four employees suing in administrative court. Authorities, he said, “are in essence asking people to prove they are not terrorists.”

They “practice their religion in a normal way.” Does that mean in a way that Osama bin Laden might consider normal? In a way that accords with mainstream teaching of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, all of which mandate warfare against unbelievers?

Next Attack Imminent: Muslims ordered to leave the United States —- BREAKING NEWS —-Not confirmed

Exclusive to Canada Free Press and Northeast Intelligence

Next Attack Imminent:
Muslims ordered to leave the United States

By Paul L. Williams& David DastychSaturday, September 16, 2006 Urgent news from Abu Dawood, the newly appointed commander of the al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan:Final preparations have been made for the American Hiroshima, a major attack on the U. S.Muslims living in the United States should leave the country without further warning.The attack will be commandeered by Adnan el Shukrijumah (“Jaffer Tayyer” or “Jafer the Pilot”), a naturalized American citizen, who was raised in Brooklyn and educated in southern Florida.The al Qaeda operatives who will launch this attack are awaiting final orders. They remain in place in cities throughout the country. Many are masquerading as Christians and have adopted Christian names.Al Qaeda and the Taliban will also launch a major strike (known as the “Badar offensive” against the coalition forces in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan.The American people will be treated to a final audio message from Osama bin Laden which will be aired within the next two weeks.The announcements from Abu Dawood were obtained by Hamid Mir, the only journalist to interview Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Taliban leader Mullah Omar in the wake of 9/11. Mir earlier reports regarding the resurgence of the Taliban with support from Iran and an unofficial truce between President Pervez Musharraf and al Qaeda have been panned out by the press in recent months.Mr. Mir interviewed Dawood on September 12 at the tomb of Sultan Mehmud Ghaznawi on the outskirts of Kabul. Dawood and the al Qaeda leaders who accompanied him were clean-shaven and dressed as Western reporters. The al Qaeda commandeer had contacted Mir by cell-phone to arrange the meeting. The contents of the encounter are as follows:Q: How did you have my local mobile number?A: We watched you on Geo TV walking in the mountains near Kabul with British troops. You were embedded with our enemies. We were sure that you are staying in one of the few hotels or guest houses in Kabul. We were looking for you in Serena and Intercontinental hotels, but then some Taliban friends informed us that they had your phone number and you might visit them in Zabul [an Afghani province]. We got your number from Commander [Muhsen] Khayber. [Khayber was responsible for a homicide bombing in Casablanca that killed 32 people]. Don’t worry about that. We will not make any harm to you. We just want to warn you that you better don’t take any rides in the tanks and humvis of the Western Forces; they are not safe for any journalist in Afghanistan.Q: Thanks for your concern; can I know your name?A: Yes my name is Abu Dawood, if you remember, we have already met in Kunar two years ago, but at that time I had a long beard, now I have a small one. You were there in the mountains, close to Asadaabad [a small village in the Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan] and you met some Al Qaeda fighters. I was among them.Q: OK. I just want to say that I am a journalist, I have to speak to both sides of a conflict, for getting an objective view and that is why I was traveling with the British troops; now I am sitting with you and that is my real job. I have interviewed Osama bin Laden as well as Condoleezza Rice, General Pervez Musharraf and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. I hope you will appreciate my objective approach?A: You have claimed to be objective, but you and your TV channel have always given much time to the propaganda of our enemies. Anyhow, it was our moral responsibility to warn you that you better try to avoid traveling with the British, American, Canadian, French, Spanish and Italian troops in Afghanistan, we will target all of them, we don’t want that people like you suffer by our attacks, it is not good for you, and at least you should not be killed with the enemies of Islam. I am sure, brother Khayber have informed you that the Taliban will launch a big operation against the Crusader Forces, in the holy month of Ramadan; don’t come to Afghanistan in Ramadan. You will see a lot of fadaee amalyat [“suicide bombings”] in coming days, Kabul will become a graveyard of NATO and ISAF.Q: Yes Khayber told me about the “Badar operation” in Ramadan. I think you are an Afghani but you are not a Talib, are you a member of Al Qaeda?A: You are right. But we are with the Taliban, just helping them, fighting under their command. Every Al Qaeda fighter can become a Talib, but every Talib cannot become Al Qaeda.Q: So where is Sheikh Osama bin Laden?A: I don’t know exactly, but he is still in command of Al Qaeda, and he is in contact with his Mujaheddin all over the world.Q: Why there was no new video statement from him, in last two years?A: Because the CIA can feed his fresh picture to the computers fitted on their Predator planes, and these planes can get him, like Nek Muhammad or Akbar Bugti. But he has released many audio messages this year. Listen to him carefully. Don’t underestimate his warnings. America is playing with the security of Muslims all over the world, now it is our turn again. Our brothers are ready to attack inside America. We will breach their security again. There is no timeframe for our attack inside America; we can do it any time.Q: What do you mean by another attack in America?A: Yes a bigger attack than September 11th 2001. Brother Adnan [el Shukrijumah] will lead that attack, Inshallah.Q:Who is Adnan?A: He is our old friend. The last time, I met him in early 2004, in Khost. He came to Khost from the North Waziristan. He met his leaders and friends in Khost. He is very well known in Al Qaeda. He is an American and a friend of Muhammad Atta, who led 9/11 attacks five years ago. We call him “Jaffer al Tayyar” [“Jafer the Pilot”]; he is very brave and intelligent. Bush is aware that brother Adnan has smuggled deadly materials inside America from the Mexican border. Bush is silent about him, because he doesn’t want to panic his people. Sheikh Osama bin Laden has completed his cycle of warnings. You know, he is man of his words, he is not a politician; he always does what he says. If he said it many times that Americans will see new attacks, they will definitely see new attacks. He is a real Mujahid. Americans will not win this war, which they have started against Muslims. Americans are the biggest supporters of the biggest terrorist in the world, which is Israel. You have witnessed the brutality of the Israelis in the recent 34-day war against Lebanese civilians. 9/11 was a revenge of Palestinian children, killed by the US-made weapons, supplied to Israel. The next attack on America would be a revenge of Lebanese children killed by US-made cluster bombs. Bush and Blair are the Crusaders, and Muslim leaders, like Musharraf and [Afghani President Hamid] Karzai are their collaborators, we will teach a lesson to all of them. We are also not happy with some religious parties in Pakistan and Egypt, they got votes in the name of Mujaheddin, and then, they collaborated with Musharraf and [Egyptian President] Hosni Mubarak. Now look at all of them, Musharraf and Karzai don’t trust each other, the CIA and ISI don’t trust each other, all the hypocrites and enemies of Mujaheddin are suspecting each other; this help to us is coming from Heavens. Allah is with us.Q: But if you attack inside America again, then Muslims living in America will face lot of problems, why would you like to create new problems for your brothers and sisters?A: Muslims should leave America. We cannot stop our attack just because of the American Muslims; they must realize that American forces are killing innocent Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq; we have the right to respond back, in the same manner, in the enemy’s homeland. The American Muslims are like a human shield for our enemy; they must leave New York and Washington.Q: But your fighters are also using the American Muslims as their shield, if there are no Muslims in America, then there would be no Al Qaeda, may be the Americans would feel safer?A: No, not at all. We have a different plan for the next attack. You will see. Americans will hardly find out any Muslim names, after the next attack. Most of our brothers are living in Western countries, with Jewish and Christian names, with passports of Western countries. This time, someone with the name of Muhammad Atta will not attack inside America, it would be some David, Richard or Peter.Q: So you will not attack America, until Muslims are there?A: I am not saying that, I am saying that Muslims must leave America, but we can attack America anytime. Our cycle of warnings has been completed, now we have fresh edicts from some prominent Muslim scholars to destroy our enemy, this is our defending of Jihad; the enemy has entered in our homes and we have the right to enter in their homes, they are killing us, we will kill them.Long time investigative journalist, Paul L. Williams is the author of such best-selling books as The Dunces of Doomsday, The Al Qaeda Connection , Osama’s Revenge: The Next 9/11. He has been the subject of a PBS documentary and the subject of programs on the Discovery and History channels. He is a frequent guest on such national news networks as Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.(International journalist David M. Dastych writes for Poland’s acclaimed weekly,Wprost. His columns appear regularly in the Edmonton-based Polish Panorama.) He can be reached at: David.dastych@aster.pl  

Why We MUST Profile

Why We MUST Profile
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | August 17, 2006

To profile or not to profile? Some recent suspicious incidents involving mass purchase of cell phones by Middle Eastern men have given this debate a new urgency. On Tuesday, terrorism charges were dropped against two Muslims from Dearborn, Michigan, who had been arrested in Ohio. Ali Houssaiky and Osama Sabhi Abulhassan had been stopped for a traffic violation a week before; in their car, sheriff’s deputies found $11,000 in cash, airline passenger lists, material about airport security procedures, and twelve cell phones. It turned out that they had bought 600 cell phones recently. 

Cell phones can be used as detonators. They’re also a ready means of non-traceable communication, as well as an easy source of ready cash, as they can be resold to people who don’t want their calls traceable. There have been several other strange incidents involving mass purchase of such phones recently: three Palestinians were recently arrested in Texas with 1,000 cell phones in their van, and there was another incident involving “Middle Eastern men” buying cell phones in large quantities in Tucson, Arizona. 

These incidents, especially all coming around the same time, are extremely suspicious, but even before prosecutors dropped the terror charges against Houssaiky and Abulhassan, charges of racial profiling began surfacing in the mainstream media. A public defender handling Abulhassan’s case, Ray Smith, said of his client at a hearing: “If his name was Joe Smith, we wouldn’t be here. His origin and appearance and name condition us to (think), ‘Oh my gosh, he’s a terrorist.’” The dropping of the charges will only reinforce this impression, despite the fact that many questions remain about the case and Washington County, Ohio Prosecutor James Schneider said that he still might press terrorism-related charges against the pair. According to AP, “Relatives of the men said they were just trying to make money by reselling the phones and were targeted because of their Arab backgrounds.” 

It is unclear, however, what those who are charging that racial profiling was a factor in the arrest of Houssaiky and Abulhassan would have preferred to have happened. The facts of the case remain that they had lists of airline passengers, information on airport security, a large amount of cash, and instruments capable of being used as detonators. I hope that in such circumstances – given the fact that jihad terrorists have abundantly established their taste for targeting airplanes — investigators would have looked into the possibility of terrorism even if Houssaiky and Abulhassan had been two Norwegian grandmothers.  

But the fact that they are two young Muslim men makes this not an option, but a necessity. For however unpleasant or politically inconvenient a fact it may be, young Muslim males are responsible for the overwhelming majority of terrorist violence around the world today. Since 9/11 Islamic jihadists have perpetrated well over five thousand terror attacks; no other group even comes close. Sane and courageous law enforcement officials will therefore subject young Muslim males to greater scrutiny, within the bounds of the law – and political correctness can take the hindmost. 

Profiling, of course, is an imperfect tool, however useful it may be. Islam is not a race, and neither is the jihad. Adherents of the jihad ideology can be found among all races: as John Walker Lindh, Jose Padilla, Richard Reid, Ismail Royer, and Hasan Akbar can attest. All those men have in common is that they are converts to Islam – a phenomenon that doesn’t necessarily have any outward signs. In fact, a recently discovered Al-Qaeda manual directs jihadists to adopt a Western secular appearance, and to eschew any outward manifestation of Islamic faith, precisely in order to divert suspicion: “Have a general appearance that does not indicate Islamic orientation (beard, toothpick, book, [long] shirt, small Koran)….Be careful not to mention the brothers’ common expressions or show their behaviors (special praying appearance, ‘may Allah reward you’, ‘peace be on you’ while arriving and departing, etc.)…Avoid visiting famous Islamic places (mosques, libraries, Islamic fairs, etc.).” Likewise, the recent terror arrests in Britain, which included a pregnant woman, demonstrate that not all jihad terrorists are men, either. 

Nonetheless, the fact remains that young Middle Eastern males have committed a disproportionate amount of violent terror attacks in recent years. Although Islamic jihad supremacism is an ideology, not a race, more Middle Eastern males hold to it than do members of other groups. Accordingly, it is simply a waste of resources to subject all airline passengers, from grandmothers to toddlers, to equal scrutiny, while refusing to spend more time investigating passengers who come from the group from which most terrorists spring nowadays. 

This is not a question of civil liberties. No one is arguing for the rounding-up of people who are just going about their business. If, however, the police see anything suspicious, as they did in the car of Houssaiky and Abulhassan, they have a right and a duty to check it out, and should be able to do so freely, without worrying about hurting feelings or incurring internal affairs investigations for politically incorrect practices. And it is still true that in a free society, people who are not breaking the law will have nothing to worry about.

 

After the uncovering of the recent jihadist airplane plot in Britain, British officials have begun moving toward this. However, politically this is an explosive issue: a British source said that the British Department for Transport “is ultra-sensitive about this and won’t say anything publicly because of political concerns about being accused of racial stereotyping.” And predictably, once a report was printed about this in the Times of London, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Ali Desai declared: “What you are suggesting is that we should have a new offence in this country called ‘traveling whilst Asian.’ What we don’t want to do is actually alienate the very communities who are going to help us catch terrorists.” And of course, we don’t want to do that. But those communities themselves have to take responsibility for the fact that jihadists have lived and recruited and plotted in their midst, generally with no fear that their coreligionists would turn them in. While Muslim tipsters helped expose the latest airplane hijacking plot, and that is highly commendable, all too often the wrath of the Muslim communities in
America and
Britain has been focused on anti-terror efforts and the foreign policy of their governments – when what is needed instead is an understanding of and tolerance for the need for profiling. But Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain doesn’t think profiling is worth doing anyway: “If the profiling is done on the basis of race and religion, it will be wrong, it is not going to work.”
 

Why not? All the September 11 hijackers were Muslims. So were the July 7 London bombers. And the Madrid train bombers of March 2004. And on and on. All the plotters in the recent international airplane hijacking attempt are Muslims. All were working on the basis of Islamic theology. Why must officials continue not to notice this? To ignore this is to give up voluntarily the one thing that may make it possible to spot the perpetrators of a terror attack before it happens, and head it off. In other words, it is suicidal.