nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Abdo (W.D. Tex.)

July 30, 2011

* United States v. Abdo (W.D. Tex.) (Ft. Hood indictment)

As you probably have heard by now, an AWOL soldier from Ft. Campbell was arrested this week in Texas in connection with an apparent bomb plot targeting Ft. Hood soldiers. Details from the press release are below, and the indictment is attached:

WACO, Texas – U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy and FBI Special Agent in Charge Cory B. Nelsonannounced that 21-year-old Naser Jason Abdo, an absent without leave (AWOL) soldier from Fort Campbell, Ky., is charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection with a bomb plot.

A criminal complaint, unsealed today in Waco, Texas, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Mankse during Abdo’s initial appearance, alleges that on July 27, 2011, Abdo was in possession of a .40 caliber handgun, ammunition, an article entitled, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” as well as bomb making components, including six bottles of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun shells, shotgun pellets, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill and two pressure cookers.

The complaint further alleges that Abdo intended to use the materials to assemble two destructive devices with the intention of detonating them inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood.

On Wednesday, officers with the Killeen Police Department arrested Abdo without incident. Abdo is currently in federal custody. If convicted, Abdo faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

Signed Abdo Complaint.pdf


nationalsecuritylaw Save the Date: Teaching National Security Law Seminar – September 17, 2011

July 30, 2011

* Save the Date: Teaching National Security Law Seminar – September 17, 2011

From the ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security:

Attention: Academics, Practitioners, Educational and Instructional Communities –— those who teach National Security Law

Jurga 2011 registration form (6).pdf


nationalsecuritylaw executive order creating sanctions regime for Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs)

July 26, 2011

Last week, the President issued an Executive Order, acting under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), that imposes sanctions on four TCOs (including most notably Los Zetas, in Mexico) and also creating a system for further designations of such groups…and their material supporters. Very interesting stuff. Details, and links to the order, are here.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Henareh, et al. (S.D.N.Y. July 2011) ; United States v. Gul (S.D.N.Y. July 2011)

July 26, 2011

* United States v. Henareh, et al. (S.D.N.Y. July 2011); United States v. Gul (S.D.N.Y. July 2011)

For those of you interested in the intersection of terrorism, organized crime, and narcotics—not to mention international cooperation in investigating such matters—these will be very interesting:

NEW YORK – Two indictments resulting from two DEA narco-terrorism undercover operations have been unsealed, announced Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michele M. Leonhart, the Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The first indictment is against Siavosh Henareh, Bachar Wehbe and Cetin Aksu for conspiring to provide various forms of support to Hizballah. The second indictment is against Taza Gul Alizai (Gul) for narco-terrorism conspiracy, narco-terrorism and heroin importation related to his supplying of 15 kilograms of heroin and six AK-47 assault rifles to a DEA confidential source whom Gul believed represented the Taliban.

Henareh and Aksu were arrested yesterday in Bucharest, Romania, where they were detained pending extradition to the United States. Wehbe and Gul were detained yesterday in the Republic of the Maldives, after an International Red Notice issued by Interpol. They arrived in the Southern District of New York early this morning and were to appear in Manhattan federal court.

“Today’s indictments provide fresh evidence of what many of us have been seeing for some time: the growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism, a nexus that threatens to become a clear and present danger to our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Bhara. “Combating this lethal threat requires a bold and proactive approach. And as crime increasingly goes global and national security threats remain global, the long arm of the law has to get even longer.”

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart stated: “These DEA operations starkly illustrate how drug trafficking is a double threat that fuels both addiction and terrorism. We have successfully targeted and substantially dismantled two dangerous and complex networks; stopped efforts to arm Hizaballah and Taliban terrorists; and prevented massive amounts of heroin from reaching illicit markets around the world. Those responsible for these crimes will now face trial due to the brave and talented men and women of the DEA, the skilled federal prosecutors of the Southern District of New York, and the extraordinary cooperation of our many international and federal agency partners, all whom were instrumental in the success of these DEA operations.”

Charges Against Henareh, Wehbe, and Aksu

As alleged in the superseding indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

Beginning in June 2010, Henareh had a series of meetings in countries including Turkey, Romania, and Greece with DEA confidential sources (CSs), at least one of whom represented himself as an associate of Hizballah. During those meetings, and in a series of telephone calls, Henareh agreed to arrange the importation of hundreds of kilograms of high-quality heroin into the United States. The CSs represented to Henareh that the profits from the sale of the heroin in the United States would be used, among other things, to purchase weapons for Hizballah. In April 2011, in Bucharest, the CSs received a one-kilogram sample of heroin from Henareh’s co-conspirator in anticipation of a future, multi-hundred kilogram load.

As a result of their meetings with Henareh, the CSs were later introduced to Aksu and Wehbe. Beginning in February 2011, in Romania, Cyprus, Malaysia and elsewhere, Aksu and Wehbe agreed to purchase military-grade weaponry from the CSs on behalf of Hizballah. In those meetings, and in telephone calls and email messages, Aksu and Wehbe discussed the purchase of American-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles (SAMs", Igla SAMs, AK-47 and M4 assault rifles, M107 .50 caliber sniper rifles and ammunition, from (among other places) an American base in Germany.

On June 13, 2011, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aksu and Wehbe signed a written contract for the purchase of 48 American-made Stinger SAMs, 100 Igla SAMs, 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 1,000 M4 rifles, and 1,000 Glock handguns, for a total price of approximately $9.5 million. During the course of the weapons negotiation, Wehbe stated that he was purchasing the weapons on instructions from Hizballah. Shortly thereafter, Wehbe and others caused approximately $100,000 to be transferred to the CSs as a down payment for the weapons purchase, including a $50,000 wire transfer to an undercover bank account.

In coordination with Romanian authorities, Henareh and Aksu were arrested in Bucharest on July 25, 2011. Wehbe was detained in the Maldives after the International Red Notice was issued by Interpol on July 25, 2011. Wehbe was transferred to DEA custody and transported to the Southern District of New York. Wehbe was to make his first appearance this afternoon in Manhattan federal court. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

The superseding indictment in U.S. v. Siavosh Henareh, et al. charges defendants Henareh, Aksu and Wehbe with the following counts:

• Count One charges Henareh and Aksu with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing or intending that the heroin would be imported into the United States, in violation of Title 21, U.S. Code, Sections 959 and 963;

• Count Two charges Aksu and Wehbe with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization — namely, Hizballah — in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2339B; and

• Count Three charges Aksu and Wehbe with conspiracy to acquire and transfer anti-aircraft missiles, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2332g.

The maximum and, in some cases, mandatory minimum penalties for these offenses are as follows:

• Count One of the indictment — life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison;

• Count Two –– 15 years in prison; and

• Count Three — life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 25 years in prison.

Charges Against Taza Gul Alizai

According to the superseding indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

In May 2008, in the vicinity of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Gul sold approximately five kilograms of heroin to a DEA confidential source (CS). Approximately two years later, Gul arranged for the sale of six AK-47 assault rifles and an additional 10 kilograms of heroin to the CS, who purported to represent the Taliban. In connection with the May 2010 transaction, Gul and the CS discussed, among other things, that the heroin sold by Gul to the CS was destined for the United States, and that the proceeds from the sale of the heroin were to be paid to the Taliban. Gul understood that the assault rifles would be supplied to the Taliban. In exchange for the heroin and the AK-47 rifles, the CS paid Gul and a co-conspirator $31,000. During the negotiations, GUL’s co-conspirator explained to the CS that heroin laboratories in Afghanistan were under Taliban protection.

In coordination with authorities in the Republic of the Maldives, Gul was detained in that country and then transferred to DEA custody and transported back to the Southern District of New York. Gul was to make his first appearance today in Manhattan federal court. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Harold Baer, Jr.

The indictment in U.S. v. Taza Gul Alizai charges defendant Gul with the following counts:

• Count One charges Gul with conspiracy to engage in narco-terrorism, in violation of Title 21, U.S. Code, Section 960a;

• Count Two charges Gul with engaging in narco-terrorism, in violation of Title 21, U.S. Code, Section 960a;

• Count Three charges Gul with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing or intending that the heroin would be imported into the United States, in violation of Title 21, U.S. Code, Sections 959 and 963; and

• Count Four charges Gul with distributing one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing or intending that the heroin would be imported into the United States, in violation of Title 21, U.S. Code, Sections 959 and 960.

The maximum and, in some cases, minimum penalties for these offenses are as follows:

• Count One –- life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison;

• Count Two –- life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 20 years in prison;

• Count Three –- life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison; and

• Count Four –- life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison.

* * *

The charges, arrests, and transfers of these four defendants were the result of the close cooperative efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Special Operations Division of the DEA, and the DEA Country Offices in: Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur; Copenhagen; New Delhi; Athens; Cyprus; and Kabul.

Mr. Bharara expressed his gratitude to the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime; the Romanian National Police; the Turkish National Police; the Malaysian National Police; the Greek Hellenic Police; the Cyprus National Police; the Maldives Police Service; the Latvian Central Criminal Police; and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol and Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France, the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, and the U.S. Department of State for their assistance.

These two cases are being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis, Adam S. Hickey, and Edward Kim are in charge of the prosecutions.


nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Mohamed (D. Minn. July 18, 2011)

July 18, 2011

* Guilty plea in al-Shabab recruitment case in Minneapolis

This is the latest in a series of convictions federal prosecutors have obtained in response to the recruitment of young Somali-American men in the Minneapolis area to travel to Somalia to fight for al-Shabab. Details from the press release follow:

MINNEAPOLIS – Earlier today in federal court, a 26-year-old Minneapolis man pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim abroad. Omer Abdi Mohamed, also known as “Brother Omer” and “Galeyr,” who was indicted on Nov. 17, 2009, entered his plea before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

In his plea agreement, Mohamed admitted being a member of a conspiracy that recruited young men of Somali descent to travel to Somalia to fight against Ethiopian troops, who were in Somalia assisting the internationally-recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia. Mohamed admitted assisting the men in planning their trips, knowing that once in Somalia, the men intended to murder, kidnap or maim Ethiopian and Somali government troops.

Following the entry of the plea, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones said, “Those involved in this conspiracy, including Omer Abdi Mohamed, violated the law in a dangerous and misguided effort to support a terrorist organization. In the process, they tore apart many Somali-American families. Parents were left to fret over the disappearance of their young sons, who often left home without a word. In some instances family members discovered what happened to their relatives only by watching Internet videos being used as propaganda by al-Shabaab. I doubt many of us can imagine the feelings in such circumstances, and I can only hope that the criminal prosecutions we continue to take against those involved, including Omer Abdi Mohamed, will help deter these ill-advised actions in the future.”

Between September and December of 2007, Mohamed admittedly attended meetings at a Minneapolis mosque, restaurant and private residence, where he and his co-conspirators formed a secret plan that called for Somali men residing in Minneapolis to travel to Somalia to fight. He also facilitated the travel of several of these young men, including assisting them in obtaining plane tickets as well as the false itinerary needed by one man to mislead his family about the purpose of his travel.

In his plea agreement, Mohamed further admitted being present in Minneapolis when money was raised to mobilize groups of men to travel to Somalia. Many of the donations came from unsuspecting members of the Somali-American community, who were told the money was going to be used for Somalia relief efforts.

The indictment of Mohamed arose out of the “Operation Rhino” investigation, which has focused on young ethnic Somali men from the Minneapolis area who were recruited to fight with al-Shabaab against the TFG and African Union peacekeeping troops in Somalia. The earliest groups of identified travelers departed the United States in October and December 2007, while others left in February 2008, August 2008, November 2008 and October 2009. Upon arriving in Somalia, the men resided in al-Shabaab safe-houses in southern Somalia until constructing an al-Shabaab training camp, where they were trained. Senior members of al-Shabaab and a senior member of al-Qaeda in East Africa conducted the training.

In July 2008, men from Minneapolis as well as other Americans participated in an al-Shabaab ambush of Ethiopian troops. Then, on Oct. 29, 2008, one of the December 2007 travelers from Minneapolis, Shirwa Ahmed, detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device as part of an apparently coordinated series of five suicide bombings in Bosaso and Hargeisa, Somalia. In doing so, Ahmed is believed to have become the first American suicide bomber in Somalia. Then, in June 2011, Farah Mohamed Beledi, one of the indicted October 2009 travelers, was killed at a checkpoint in Somalia as he attempted to detonate his suicide vest.

This is the sixth guilty plea in connection with the investigation. Kamal Said Hassan, Abdifatah Yusuf Isse and Salah Osman Ahmed returned from Somalia to the United States and have been convicted of terrorism offenses. Adarus Abdulle Ali and Abdow Munye Abdow have been convicted of obstruction offenses. Mohamud Said Omar is in the custody of authorities in the Netherlands pending extradition, and Ahmed Hussein Mahamud is in custody in the United States pending trial. An indictment of eight men believed to be fugitives in Somalia also was unsealed late last year.

For his crime, Omer Abdi Mohamed faces a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Chief Judge Davis will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.


nationalsecuritylaw national security law on…Facebook?

July 18, 2011

For those of you who do not use Facebook, the following may not be of interest. But for those of you who do, you might want to take note of the growing number of national security law-related outlets that have pages providing feeds of their own content, posts from others, and (hopefully increasingly often) comments and debates on the posts.

First, the Journal of National Security Law & Policy has created a page that contains a whole lot of interesting stuff, beyond what appears in the Journal itself:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lawfare/111721462217828#!/JNSLP

Second, the blog I’m associated with also has a Facebook page, and not all the content there is just the RSS feed from the blog. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lawfare/111721462217828.

Third, the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse has lots of interesting content:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lawfare/111721462217828#!/insct

I’m sure there are others, but in any event, consider giving these three a “like” next time you are on Facebook.


nationalsecuritylaw LLMs in national security

July 18, 2011

A request for information from a colleague: If your school has or is contemplating having an LLM degree program focused more or less on national security and the law, please send an email to Professor Peter Raven-Hansen at pravenhansen. Thanks! (FYI, he does know about Georgetown’s new program).