Monday, July 7, 2008

"Although the youths talked about ways to attack the U.S., they lacked a strong leader who could help them follow through on a plan . . .


Thank G-d! I'm very happy no strong leader showed his face. There, but for the grace of G-d we go.

I remember discussing this very issue with a friend of mine when we were walking in Tel Aviv.

She said she couldn't wait to get back to NYC, and I asked her why. She said she felt like she was in danger in Israel.

"And you don't feel like that in NYC?" I asked. "For G-d's sake, woman! In Israel the Jews are expecting an attack and they are prepared for it and always alert. In Brooklyn, they are walking around completely clueless, unarmed, and unaware. Which do you think is safer?"

She changed her mind.

The diaspora Jews need to wake up, learn to use a weapon, learn what to look for, how to react, and what to do if the worst happens.

Most don't have a clue.

Wake up!

Our enemies don't confine themselves to Gaza!


Undercover city detective finds hints of danger among mosques

As the global war on terror approaches the start of its eighth year, the NYPD says it has never been more prepared - but also warns that the city can never let its guard down. In a two-part series, Daily News reporter Patrice O'Shaughnessy looks at the terror threat in New York - and around the world. Sunday's installment focuses on an NYPD undercover officer who dug deep into the potential terrorists in our midst.

A young undercover city detective spent four years in the shadowy world of terrorist wanna-bes - taking part in jihadist discussions and training in parks in the dead of night - to get a handle on the homegrown threat.

At great personal risk, he participated in everything from prayers at a mosque to martial arts training under cover of darkness to watching jihadist videos, with many of the activities laced with talk of killing, according to a source familiar with the undercover's investigations.

His experiences paint a vivid portrait of the potential for local terror. While the picture is in no way indicative of the city's Muslim population as a whole, it provides insight into its most radical element.

The detective spent his time interacting with informal groups of youths and men who shared extremist views - and his experiences illustrate what police say is the potential for radicalization of some elements in the community.

He reported that after prayers at a neighborhood mosque, there were often private classes that included discussions about bombing different areas.

The men discussed violent jihad in bookstores, private houses and on buses en route to paintball and shooting-range events.

He was invited to join in "bonding" activities like working out at a gym and martial arts training in parks at night, during which the group discussed ideological justifications for killing Westerners.

He also watched military movies and jihadist videos with groups of young men in private homes. During one such evening, one man got so excited he punched a wall.

The detective reported that some youths became extremists after they traveled to their home countries; others went on the hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca - and came back fired up by imams who encouraged violence as a religious obligation.

Others, after visiting relatives abroad, became enraged at their family's living conditions and blamed the U.S. for supporting nondemocratic governments.

Although the youths talked about ways to attack the U.S., they lacked a strong leader who could help them follow through on a plan, the detective reported.

The undercover, a Muslim who came to America from Bangladesh when he was 7, gave only a glimpse of his work as an undercover when he testified during the trial of the Herald Square bomb plotters, the only known New York City homegrown plot to reach the jihadization stage.

The groups the detective interacted with resemble the "bunches of guys" that Marc Sageman, a noted terrorism authority and new scholar-in-residence at the NYPD, says are the real concern. His position has stirred a debate among security analysts.

While some experts contend the chief threat is Al Qaeda, Sageman, author of "Leaderless Jihad," contends the threat comes more from radicalized individuals who meet and scheme in their neighborhoods and on the Internet.

"We're still very much learning about our enemy," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "Sageman will help us do that. He was with the CIA, a consultant to France and Spain. He's a heavyweight."

While the homegrown threat is real, "An attack from afar by Al Qaeda is always a possibility," Kelly emphasized.

Intelligence analysts for the department have compiled a report, "Radicalization in the West," that "conceptualized the whole notion of the homegrown threat," said David Cohen, deputy commissioner of intelligence. The Internet as training ground and recruitment tool for homegrown radicals is strong, Cohen said, but the number of jihadist Web sites - up from a dozen in 1998 to more than 5,000 now - has probably flattened out.

"Along with expanding computer investigations done by the cyber unit, we have expanded our human program," Cohen said, referring to traditional undercover detective work. The detective appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court two years ago as the final witness at the four-week trial of Shahawar Matin Siraj, 23, a Pakistani immigrant who was convicted of plotting to blow up the Herald Square subway station during the Republican National Convention in 2004.

The detective was not involved in that case, but testified that he had come across Siraj during his undercover work.

Testifying under the fake name of Kamil Pasha, he said he was taken from the Police Academy in October 2002 to be a "walking camera," eyes and ears, among Muslims. He interacted with groups in Brooklyn and elsewhere in the city.

The detective has been involved in "numerous" investigations for the intelligence division, part of a cadre of undercovers who act as listening posts.

"We don't target a group as a whole; we look for patterns of behavior, travel, training," Cohen said.

The NYPD has studied attacks in Europe to enhance its understanding of the homegrown threat. For example, the July 7, 2005, London subway bombings that killed 52 people drove home the issue of plotting being done outside the target area. The attack plan was hatched in Leeds - more than 150 miles from London.

"We drew a 200-mile perimeter around the city, and we work with all the local police agencies from Maryland to Canada," Cohen said.

"We have our ear to the ground," Kelly said. "We are aware of the possibility of a threat to this city developing very close to home."

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