Tags: Al | Qaida | WMD | Program

Al-Qaida Bomb-Maker Revives WMD Program

By    |   Monday, 26 May 2008 07:11 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Al-Qaida Bomb-Maker Revives WMD Program
2. California Judge Defends Gay Marriage Decision
3. U.S. Battling 'New Espionage Threat' — Cyber Attacks
4. Feds Ban 'Jihad,' Other Terror Terms

1. Al-Qaida Bomb-Maker Revives WMD Program

A dangerous al-Qaida bomb-maker, whom the Pakistan military reported was killed two years ago, is in fact alive and well and working to develop chemical, biological, and radiological weapons — and perhaps nuclear weapons as well.

That's the chilling word from Beirut-based Ed Blanche, who writes in The Middle East magazine that Egyptian-born chemical engineer Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar — known as Osama bin Laden's "sorcerer" — is working in secret laboratories in Pakistan's northwestern tribal area.

The Pakistani military claimed that in January 2006, Mursi was one of several senior al-Qaida figures killed by missiles fired from a CIA Predator at a clandestine gathering in a village near the Afghan border.

U.S. intelligence officials were skeptical, and now even the Pakistani intelligence chiefs admit that he's still alive — with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.

American officials say that electronic surveillance of known al-Qaida figures recently turned up conversations in which Mursi is spoken about in the present tense, Blanche reports.

U.S. officials have also learned that Mursi is working to manufacture cyanide, chlorine and other lethal poisons, and has helped revive the al-Qaida chemical and biological weapons (CBW) program that was disrupted by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Former CIA analyst Chris Quillen stated earlier this year that Mursi and his associates may have made progress in their hideouts in Pakistan's tribal region.

"I'm not saying the programs are great and ready for an attack tomorrow, but whatever they lost in the 2001 invasion, they're back at that level at this point," he said.

American officials have warned that al-Qaida is seeking to produce botulism toxin, smallpox, plague, or Ebola.

Blanche asserts that the U.S. believes Mursi is training operatives to carry out CBW attacks in Europe. But attacks in the U.S. have been planned previously.

A plot to launch an attack with cyanide gas in the New York City subway system was reportedly scheduled for the spring of 2003. The plot was first disclosed in 2006 in a book, "The One Percent Doctrine" by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ron Suskind, which was excerpted by Time magazine.

Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was apparently in charge of the plot, called off the attack 45 days before it was to be launched, Blanche writes, "possibly because it was not deemed apocalyptic enough to surpass the 9/11 carnage."

Editor's Note:

2. California Judge Defends Gay Marriage Decision

California Chief Justice Ronald George, a lifelong Republican, said his decision to vote in favor of overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage was the toughest of his career.

It's also become one of the most controversial.

George, 68, wrote the 121-page state Supreme Court ruling that struck down the gay marriage ban.

"The 4-3 decision, which George calls the toughest of his career . . . will define his legacy as chief justice," the San Jose Mercury News observed.

Writing for the majority, Judge George declared: "We determine that . . . the designation of marriage to a union 'between a man and a woman' is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples."

George said the 1948 California Supreme Court ruling in Perez v. Sharp, which outlawed a ban on interracial marriage, weighed heavily on his decision to overturn the gay marriage ban.

He defended his decision by saying that California's Constitution dictated the outcome.

He wrote in his decision that "an individual's sexual orientation — like a person's race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

The legal world is abuzz over the decision by George's court, the first to protect gays with the same civil rights laws that apply to race, religion, or gender, the Mercury News reported.

"The decision took a great deal of courage and leadership," said University of California-Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law professor Stephen Barnett.

Not everyone is as complimentary as Barnett.

Eight years ago, 4,618,673 California voters — 61 percent of those casting ballots — approved an initiative that stated: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Robert P. George, a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence, said about the new court ruling: "It looks like a fairly conventional liberal judicial activist decision. These guys had the votes, and they rammed it through. They don't regard the will of the people of California as worthy of their particular concern."

Justice Marvin Baxter, a Republican on the court, wrote a dissenting opinion that accused the court of substituting "its own social policy views for those expressed by the people."

Presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, long opposed to gay marriage and civil unions, appeared on Thursday's "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and said he disagrees with the California decision, but wishes DeGeneres all the best as she makes plans to walk down the aisle with her girlfriend, actress Portia de Rossi.

"I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and woman," McCain said.

The conservative Alliance Defense Fund said it would ask the justices for a stay of the decision until after the fall election in hopes of adding California to the list of 26 states that have approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, according to The Associated Press.

"We're obviously very disappointed in the decision," said Glen Lavy, senior counsel for the organization. "The remedy is a constitutional amendment."

The decision is not the first controversial one George has handed down. In 1996, he wrote the majority decision for a ruling overturning a California law requiring minors to get parental consent before having an abortion.

"As a result, angry social conservatives moved to oppose George's election in 1998, forcing him to raise more than $1 million to campaign," the Mercury News disclosed.

George's current 12-year term is up in 2010.

Editor's Note:

3. U.S. Battling 'New Espionage Threat' — Cyber Attacks

America's government and defense contractors have been victimized by an unprecedented rash of cyber attacks over the last two years, forcing the U.S. to launch a new operation to fight off intrusions.

In an article headlined "The New E-Spionage Threat," Business Week disclosed that a probe of the attacks on sensitive computer networks uncovered "startling security gaps."

"It's espionage on a massive scale," Paul Kurtz a former high-ranking national security official, told the magazine.

Last year government agencies reported nearly 13,000 "cyber security incidents" to the Department of Homeland Security, three times the number from two years earlier. Incidents involving the military's networks rose 55 percent last year.

Private targets, such as defense contractors, are also vulnerable and information gleaned from their computers could pose a serious security risk.

Business Week has learned that the U.S. government has initiated a classified operation called Byzantine Foothold to detect and disarm intrusions on critical government networks.

And President Bush in January signed an order to overhaul America's cyber defenses. Under that order, all government agencies must cut the number of communication channels they use to connect with the Internet from more than 4,000 to fewer than 100.

Especially troubling is the belief that many intrusions are by trained professionals backed by foreign governments. In particular, the military and intelligence communities have charged that China is America's biggest cyber menace.

Last September, an e-mail message addressed to an executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm that often deals with defense contractors, detailed weaponry that India wanted to buy.

It was purportedly sent from the Pentagon and appeared legitimate, but it contained a piece of computer code known as "Poison Ivy" designed to steal sensitive data from a computer network.

"Had the Booz Allen executive clicked on the attachment, his every keystroke would have been reported back to a mysterious master at the Internet address cybersyndrome.3322.org, which is registered through an obscure company headquartered on the banks of China's Yangtze River," Business Week reported.

In 2004, hackers believed to be in China accessed classified data stored on the computer networks of Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Labs, and NASA, the magazine also disclosed.

Pentagon officials say hackers are developing new ways to penetrate computer networks' safeguards that can render firewalls and antivirus programs virtually useless.

When Business Week ran tests in February, only 11 of the top 34 antivirus software programs identified Poison Ivy.

Editor's Note:

4. Feds Ban 'Jihad,' Other Terror Terms

Muslim terrorists are not "jihadists." And there is no such thing as "Islamo-fascism."

At least that's the word from Washington.

New government directives remove well-worn expressions from the lexicon in the war on terror, not only for the sake of political correctness but also to convey the desired message to the Muslim world.

A report from the Department of Homeland Security, entitled "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," was compiled based on suggestions from "a wide variety of American Muslim leaders," the report states.

It instructs Americans in the counter-terrorism and diplomatic communities not to use the word "moderate" when describing broad Muslim populations and to use "mainstream," "ordinary," and "traditional" instead, noting that "one can be deeply religious, strictly adhere to fundamental doctrines, and nevertheless abhor violence."

It also recommends using the word "cult" in describing al-Qaida because it has "a negative connotation."

Another document circulating through Washington was prepared by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center. Among the memo's instructions:

  • Never use the words "jihadist" or "mujahideen" to describe terrorists. "A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war," the memo explains. "In Arabic, jihad means 'striving in the path of God' . . . Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions." The term "violent extremist," however, is encouraged.
  • Avoid referring to al-Qaida as a "movement," which implies a degree of political legitimacy. Instead use simply "al-Qaida," or "al-Qaida network."
  • Don't label everything "Muslim," because that reinforces the "U.S. vs. Islam" framework that al-Qaida promotes. Be specific or descriptive — "Egyptian," "Pakistani," "Arab opinion leaders."
  • Don't invoke Islam. "Although the al-Qaida network exploits religious sentiments and tries to use religion to justify its actions, we should treat it as an illegitimate political organization, both terrorist and criminal."
  • Using "pejorative" terms such as "Islamo-fascism" is taboo, because they are "considered offensive by many Muslims," according to the memo.
  • Shun references to the "caliphate," which has positive connotations for Muslims, in reference to the goal of al-Qaida and associated groups. "The best description of what they really want to create is a 'global totalitarian state,'" the memo instructs.

The advice is "not binding," according to the memo.

But the New York Post still scoffed at the government directives, observing in an editorial: "As if Condi Rice letting slip the word 'jihad' is going to rouse thousands of young Muslims who otherwise showed not the slightest interest to suddenly strap on explosives and start singing the praises of Osama bin Laden."

Editor's Note:

Editor's Note:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Al-Qaida Bomb-Maker Revives WMD Program2. California Judge Defends Gay Marriage Decision3. U.S. Battling 'New Espionage Threat' Cyber Attacks4. Feds Ban 'Jihad,' Other Terror Terms 1. Al-Qaida Bomb-Maker Revives WMD Program...
Monday, 26 May 2008 07:11 PM
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