Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fastest Gun Alive

Mind Your Tweets: The CIA Social Networking Surveillance System


Mind Your Tweets: The CIA Social Networking Surveillance System

November 28, 2009 ·

From Wikileaks

October 24, 2009

By Tom Burghardt (Global Research)
That social networking sites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter and their competitors can facilitate communication and information sharing amongst diverse groups and individuals is by now a cliché.

It should come as no surprise then, that the secret state and the capitalist grifters whom they serve, have zeroed-in on the explosive growth of these technologies. One can be certain however, securocrats aren't tweeting their restaurant preferences or finalizing plans for after work drinks.

No, researchers on both sides of the Atlantic are busy as proverbial bees building a "total information" surveillance system, one that will, so they hope, provide police and security agencies with what they euphemistically call "actionable intelligence."

Build the Perfect Panopticon, Win Fabulous Prizes!

In this context, the whistleblowing web site Wikileaks published a remarkable document October 4 by the INDECT Consortium, the Intelligence Information System Supporting Observation, Searching and Detection for Security of Citizens in Urban Environment.

Hardly a catchy acronym, but simply put INDECT is working to put a human face on the billions of emails, text messages, tweets and blog posts that transit cyberspace every day; perhaps your face.

According to Wikileaks, INDECT's "Work package 4″ is designed "to comb web blogs, chat sites, news reports, and social-networking sites in order to build up automatic dossiers on individuals, organizations and their relationships." Ponder that phrase again: "automatic dossiers."

This isn't the first time that European academics have applied their "knowledge skill sets" to keep the public "safe"–from a meaningful exercise of free speech and the right to assemble, that is.

Last year The Guardian reported that Bath University researchers' Cityware project covertly tracked "tens of thousands of Britons" through the installation of Bluetooth scanners that capture "radio signals transmitted from devices such as mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras, and using the data to follow unwitting targets without their permission."

One privacy advocate, Simon Davies, the director of Privacy International, told The Guardian: "This technology could well become the CCTV of the mobile industry. It would not take much adjustment to make this system a ubiquitous surveillance infrastructure over which we have no control."

Which of course, is precisely the point.

As researchers scramble for a windfall of cash from governments eager to fund these dubious projects, European police and security agencies aren't far behind their FBI and NSA colleagues in the spy game.

The online privacy advocates, Quintessenz, published a series of leaked documents in 2008 that described the network monitoring and data mining suites designed by Nokia Siemens, Ericsson and Verint.

The Nokia Siemens Intelligence Platform dubbed "intelligence in a box," integrate tasks generally done by separate security teams and pools the data from sources such as telephone or mobile calls, email and internet activity, bank transactions, insurance records and the like. Call it data mining on steroids.

Ironically enough however, Siemens, the giant German electronics firm was caught up in a global bribery scandal that cost the company some $1.6 billion in fines. Last year, The New York Times described "a web of secret bank accounts and shadowy consultants," and a culture of "entrenched corruption … at a sprawling, sophisticated corporation that externally embraced the nostrums of a transparent global marketplace built on legitimate transactions."

According to the Times, "at Siemens, bribery was just a line item." Which just goes to show, powering the secret state means never having to say you're sorry!

Social Network Spying, a Growth Industry Fueled by Capitalist Grifters

The trend by security agencies and their corporate partners to spy on their citizens has accelerated greatly in the West since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This multi-billion industry in general, has been a boon for the largest American and European defense corporations. Among the top ten companies listed by Washington Technology in their annual ranking of the "Top 100″ prime government contractors, all ten–from Lockheed Martin to Booz Allen Hamilton–earned a combined total of $68 billion in 2008 from defense and related homeland security work for the secret state.

And like Siemens, all ten corporations figure prominently on the Project on Government Oversight's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), which tracks "contract fraud, environmental, ethics, and labor violations." Talk about a rigged game!

Designing everything from nuclear missile components to eavesdropping equipment for various government agencies in the United States and abroad, including some of the most repressive regimes on the planet, these firms have moved into manufacturing the hardware and related computer software for social networking surveillance in a big way.

Wired revealed in April that the FBI is routinely monitoring cell phone calls and internet activity during criminal and counterterrorism investigations. The publication posted a series of internal documents that described the Wi-Fi and computer hacking capabilities of the Bureau's Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit (CEAU).

New Scientist reported back in 2006 that the National Security Agency "is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks."

And just this week in an exclusive report published by the British high-tech publication, The Register, it was revealed that "the government has outsourced parts of its biggest ever mass surveillance project to the disaster-prone IT services giant formerly known as EDS."

That work is being conducted under the auspices of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British state's equivalent of America's National Security Agency.

Investigative journalist Chris Williams disclosed that the American computer giant HP, which purchased EDS for some $13.9 billion last year, is "designing and installing the massive computing resources that will be needed to analyse details of who contacts whom, when where and how."

Work at GCHQ in Cheltenham is being carried out under "a secret project called Mastering the Internet." In May, a Home Office document surfaced that "ostensibly sought views on whether ISPs should be forced to gather terabytes of data from their networks on the government's behalf."

The Register reported earlier this year that telecommunications behemoth Detica and U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin were providing GCHQ with data mining software "which searches bulk data, such as communications records, for patterns … to identify suspects." (For further details see: Antifascist Calling, "Spying in the UK: GCHQ Awards Lockheed Martin £200m Contract, Promises to 'Master the Internet'," May 7, 2009)

It seems however, that INDECT researchers like their GCHQ/NSA kissin' cousins in Britain and the United States, are burrowing ever-deeper into the nuts-and-bolts of electronic social networking and may be on the verge of an Orwellian surveillance "breakthrough."

As New Scientist sagely predicted, the secret state most certainly plans to "harness advances in internet technology–specifically the forthcoming 'semantic web' championed by the web standards organisation W3C–to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals."

Profiling Internet Dissent

Pretty alarming, but the devil as they say is in the details and INDECT's release of their "Work package 4″ file makes for a very interesting read. And with a title, "XML Data Corpus: Report on methodology for collection, cleaning and unified representation of large textual data from various sources: news reports, weblogs, chat," rest assured one must plow through much in the way of geeky gibberish and tech-speak to get to the heartless heart of the matter.

INDECT itself is a rather interesting amalgamation of spooks, cops and academics.

According to their web site, INDECT partners include: the University of Science and Technology, AGH, Poland; Gdansk University of Technology; InnoTech DATA GmbH & Co., Germany; IP Grenoble (Ensimag), France; MSWiA, the General Headquarters of Police, attached to the Ministry of the Interior, Poland; Moviquity, Spain; Products and Systems of Information Technology, PSI, Germany; the Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, United Kingdom (hardly slouches when it comes to stitching-up Republicans and other leftist agitators!); Poznan University of Technology; Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria; University of Wuppertal, Germany; University of York, Great Britain; Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic; Technical University of Kosice, Slovakia; X-Art Pro Division G.m.b.H, Austria; and finally, the Fachhochschule Technikum, also in Austria.

I don't know about you, but I find it rather ironic that the European Union, ostensible guardians of democracy and human rights, have turned for assistance in their surveillance projects to police and spy outfits from the former Soviet bloc, who after all know a thing or two when it comes to monitoring their citizens.


Four Wash. Officers Shot Dead in Ambush

Someone should have been on guard.




Four Wash. Officers Shot Dead in Ambush


Posted: Sunday, November 29, 2009

Updated: November 29th, 2009 03:23 PM GMT-05:00




Associated Press Writer


TACOMA, Wash. --

A gunman burst into a Washington state coffeehouse Sunday and opened fire on four police officers as they sat working on their laptops, killing the three men and one woman in what an official described as a targeted ambush.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said officers were looking for one male suspect who fled on foot, but haven't ruled out an accomplice.

Troyer said the four officers killed - all from the Lakewood Police Department - were catching up on paperwork at the beginning of their shifts when they were attacked at 8:15 a.m. Sunday.

Troyer said the attack was clearly targeted at the officers, not a robbery gone bad.

"There were marked patrol cars outside and they were all in uniform," Troyer said.

With no known suspects, there was no indication of any connection with the Halloween night shooting of a Seattle police officer. The suspect in that shooting remains hospitalized.

Troyer would not release the names of the victims in Sunday's shooting.

It wasn't clear whether the officers even had time to draw their weapons to return fire, Troyer said.

"This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers," Troyer said.

There were two employees and a few other customers in the shop. All are being interviewed by the Pierce County Sheriff's investigators.

"Some are in shock. They are very upset," Troyer said. "They are the ones who are going to put together for us how this happened."

The Forza Coffee Shop, part of a popular local chain, is on a side street near McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, about 35 miles south of Seattle. The shop is in a small retail center alongside two restaurants, a cigar store and a nail salon.

Brad Carpenter, founder and owner of Forza Coffee, said his staff was OK and being interviewed by police, and that his main concern was with the families of the police officers.

"I'm a retired police officer, so this really hits close to home for me," he said.

Streets around the coffee shop were blocked off late Sunday morning, and a police helicopter hovered over a large crowd of investigators. TV video showed police taking possession of a pickup truck parked in a grocery store in Parkland.

Dave Gabrielson, a clerk at Foot Mart about a block away from the coffee shop, told the newspaper all was quiet when he opened the store at 8 a.m. About 30 minutes later, "All of a sudden a million cops were zooming up and down the road," Gabrielson said.

He said he saw officers bring a police dog into a nearby apartment complex.

The baristas who were inside the shop are "stunned and shocked, traumatized," Troyer said.

"We hopefully will have answers, but there is nothing more we can tell you," Troyer told KING-TV. "That's as cold-hearted as it is."

Last month, Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed Halloween night as he was sitting in a cruiser with trainee Britt Sweeney. Sweeney was grazed in the neck.

Authorities say the man charged with that shooting also firebombed four police vehicles in October as part of a "one-man war" against law enforcement. Christopher Monfort, 41, was arrested days after the Seattle shooting and remains hospitalized.

Monfort remains hospitalized in stable condition, the hospital said Sunday.


Egyptian Muslim Cleric To Jews: 'Offspring of Apes & Pigs, Day of Vengeance Is Nearing'


If you are having trouble viewing this email click here.



MEMRI - The Middle East Media Research Institute

Special Dispatch | No. 2672 | November 29, 2009

Egypt/Tom Lantos Archives on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial

Egyptian Cleric Hazem Shuman's Message 'For Every Jew on the Face of the Earth... Oh Offspring of Apes and Pigs, The Day of Vengeance Is Nearing'

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Following are excerpts from an address by Egyptian cleric Hazem Shuman, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on October 31, 2009.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit

"Your Turn Has Come At Last, You Offspring of Apes and Pigs, You Most Accursed Creatures Created by Allah"

Hazem Shuman: "Tonight’s lecture is one of the most important lectures of this series. Tonight, we will talk about the Battle of Khaybar, about the Prophet Muhammad’s greatest battle [with the Jews], in which the Prophet eradicated the Jewish presence in Al-Madina. 

"On June 5, 1967, when the Jews occupied Palestine and Jerusalem and were celebrating their victory, Moshe Dayan cried: 'This is our revenge for Khaybar.' How come Khaybar remained seared in their hearts for 1,400 years? After 1,400 years, their hearts are still burning because of Khaybar. The first thing that the Prophet Muhammad did after his victory in the Hudaybiyya Treaty, after he stabilized the Muslim state, and neutralized the Quraysh front, the first mission of the Prophet Muhammad, his first campaign, was against the Jews of Khaybar.

"Your turn has come at last, you offspring of apes and pigs, you most accursed creatures created by Allah, you people who have harmed the Prophet again and again.

"Only 20 days after the Hudaybiyya Treaty, the Prophet Muhammad decided to take the army of Islam to Khaybar. Why the Jews of all people? It has been proven that the Jews are like a cancer – if they are not removed from the body of the nation, they will kill the entire nation. Unless the Jews were dealt with, they would have brought the Persians and the Byzantines to the Arabian Peninsula. the Jews are dangerous to the whole world. They threatened the stability of the Arabian Peninsula." [...] 

"Jews Are Always the Same... [In] Sabra and Shatila... Sharon Chopped Off the Limbs of Children and Used Them to Make a Necklace"

"Jews are always the same. We are still tormented by the sights of their massacres of the Muslims, when they went into Sabra and Shatila. Sharon chopped off the limbs of children, and used them to make a necklace, so that he could boast that he dismembered the bodies of Muslim children. When the Jews entered Sabra and Shatila, a Jewish soldier took a pregnant woman and emptied a submachine gun into her neck. When she was dead, he cut open her belly, took out her nine-month-old fetus, and slaughtered it in front of the Muslims. 

"They took 30 Muslim men and women, including a newlywed couple, and shot them all in Sabra and Shatila. They chased a six-year-old boy, whose mother was hugging him and calling for help. They stabbed him with knives and killed him in his mother’s lap. In the end, she went mad, because of what had happened. They shot dead an entire family, except for a baby, who screamed at the sight of the bloodbath. The moment they saw he was crying, they shot him with a machine-gun as well. At Sabra and Shatila, they raped a Muslim woman, and then killed her children in front of her. They tore off women’s ears, by pulling their earrings." [...] 

The Jews of Khaybar in the 7th Year of the Hijra Are a Replica of the State of Israel in 2009

"The Jews of Khaybar in the 7th year of the hijra are a replica of the state of Israel in 2009, in terms of the terrifying economy that sucked the blood of the Arabs, the military armaments and superiority over the entire region, the settlements that form the state, the fortifications, like the separation fence that they are building today. 

"When the army of the Muslims arrived, the Jews removed their women and children from the fortifications at the front, and left only their fighters at the front... The army of the Prophet Muhammad was very poor. The Muslims had nothing to eat. The first time they ate was after the conquest of Khaybar. 

"One of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions had a debt to a Jew. The Jew told him he had to pay his debt before he left, but the Muslim did not have even five dirham, so he sold his clothes so he could pay his debt and leave. The Prophet’s companions sold their clothes in order to fight the Jews, and take revenge upon them." [...] 

In the Battle of Khaybar, "Allah Gave the Muslims Strength"

"Finally, [in the battle of Khaybar], Allah gave the Muslims strength, and they launched a martyrdom-seeking attack on the fortifications. All their lives long, they were martyrdom-seekers and heroes, who sacrificed their blood for Islam. They stormed the fortress and took the Jews captive, for the first time. All the other Jews fled.

"When the Muslims entered the fortress, they were astounded. What is this? Never in their lives had they seen so much food – enough to last years. They were astounded by the weapons too. There was a weapon called a tank. It was a house made of tin, like today’s tanks. Soldiers sat in it and drove it towards the fortifications. When arrows were shot at them, they had no effect. There were catapults, which shot bombs of fire, which penetrated the walls and smashed the fortifications. Why did the Jews amass all these weapons? They were planning to use them against the Muslims. They were preparing for the day when they would fight the Muslims – otherwise, why would they have amassed all those weapons? The [Muslims] also found large quantities of wine, which they poured out on the floor. 


"The [Muslim fighters] reached the final fortification, the final battle. All the Jews, including women and children, were here. The walls were enormous. The number of arrows fired from its towers was indescribable. Its gates were well fortified, and no one could escape from there. This was the first time that the Prophet Muhammad used catapults. The [Muslims] shot catapults at the walls until there were gaping holes in them. All the Muslim army charged into the final fortress, with hatred burning in their hearts for the Jews, with a strong desire to take revenge upon the offspring of apes and pigs. 

"All the Muslims – men and women – charged with a strong desire to annihilate the Jews. They entered the fortress, and a terrible battle took place, a violent battle in the last fortress, until all the Jewish soldiers were arrested and all the Jewish women captured. Khaybar trembled with the sound of the cries of 'Allah Akbar,' and the entire Arabian Peninsula shook with the victorious cries of 'Allah Akbar.' 

"1,400 soldiers defeated 10,000 Jews. The Jews were defeated, and the reputation of the invincible army was shattered. After a month-long siege and terrible fighting, the Jews were defeated. The Arabian Peninsula shook with the cries of 'Allah Akbar,' and the Jews collapsed. 

"Soon the cries of 'Allah Akbar' will be sounded at the gates of Jerusalem, and at the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque. Soon, cries of 'Allah Akbar' will be heard on the day of vengeance against the Jews. 

"The Jews were defeated. The Prophet Muhammad and everybody were very surprised that only 96 Jews were killed, along with 16 Muslims. Ninety-six people? The Prophet could have massacred the Jews, down to the last one. Why did the Prophet Muhammad let them be? Because the Prophet Muhammad does not fight for the sake of war or bloodshed. He fights for the sake of peace. this proves to what extent he is the prophet of peace." [...] 

"I Have a Message for Every Jew on the Face of the Earth – The Army of Muhammad Will Return"

"I have a message for every Jew on the face of the earth. The army of Muhammad will return. Oh offspring of apes and pigs, the day of vengeance is nearing. Oh most accursed creatures created by Allah, those who swore before the Prophet Muhammad to die are returning. Wait for us and you will see, you most accursed creatures." [...] 

"Oh Nation of Muhammad, Do Not Be Afraid to Wage War Against The Jews; If You Do Not Fight for the Sake of Palestine, Allah Will Fight You"

"Oh nation of Muhammad, do not be afraid to wage war against the Jews. If you do not fight for the sake of Palestine, Allah will fight you. Decide what you fear more – a war with the Jews, or a war with Allah.

"Can you fight God? If you abandon Palestine, you will be fighting God."


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MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

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Ft Hood Terrorist Insane?


Terrorist to plead insanity

November 29, 12:46 PM Race Relations Examiner Conley

After the shooting at Fort Hood, reports of Maj. Hasan having PTSD surfaced quickly as an explanation for his actions. This disorder caused him to become temporarily insane and follow the instructions of Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American  cleric who Hasan was openly sharing e-mails with for a long time. This cleric urges Muslims to view terrorism as a righteous and noble act. Is insanity a defense or a prerequisite for being a terrorist?

Lisa Miller writes in the November 23, 2009 Newsweek in her article 'Yes, He Is a Terrorist' about the tract '44 Ways to Support Jihad' written by al Awlaki to instruct the reader , 'Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim. So as a Muslim who wants to please Allah it is your duty to find ways to practice it and support it.' Hasan chose to follow that guidance.

Hasan found a way to support Jihad. That he was influenced does not favorably mitigate the extent of his guilt, it serves to validate unequivocably that Hasan is a crazy Muslim terrorist. Not crazy because he's Muslim or Muslim because he's a terrorist , but each component individually combined to ignite the one person responsible for the murders at Fort Hood. Although, his Army superiors may be somewhat culpable.

Records indicate erratic and unsatisfactory performance from Hasan through his training and into his work experience. Why wasn't he fired or removed from duty? Hasan saw only 1 patient per week when his co-workers were seeing many more than that because of his questionable skills. Beyond insane, how long was Maj. Hasan inept and why wasn't something done about it?

The Army should take a look at its practices and procedures to insure that the appropriate action is taken when red flags appear. If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and it waddles like a duck, chances are it is an insane terrorist, duck. It would be crazy to find Hasan innocent by reason of insanity.   


Is America willing to fight domestic Islamic threat? - FOX video


November 28, 2009

The Journal Editorial Report: 11/28

Is America willing to fight domestic Islamic threat?


UN Raises Alarm Over Islamic Stonings in Somalia


A day late and a dollar short…as usual with the useless UN.



U.N. Raises Alarm Over Islamic Stonings in Somalia

Written by Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Published Sunday, November 29, 2009

International officials fear the spread of floggings, amputation, torture and death by stoning.

The current and former United Nations experts responsible for human rights in Somalia have condemned a series of stonings in the war-torn country.

Dr Shamsul Bari, an independent expert appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to report on Somalia, expressed concern over a rise in stonings and targeted assassinations of women's rights advocates, journalists and U.N. staff in a meeting with Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

Citing the "deteriorating" human rights situation in the country, Dr Bari called on the interim Somali government to work to end the "cruel, inhuman and degrading" practices.

"I strongly condemn these recent executions by stoning," Dr Bari said in a statement.

The statement was released after Halima Ibrahim Abdirahman, a 29-year-old married woman, was stoned to death after she allegedly confessed to having had sex with a 20-year-old unmarried man in Eelboon, southern Somalia. The young man, who has not been identified, was sentenced to 100 lashes.

That came after a 20-year-old divorced woman accused of sleeping with an older, unmarried man was put in a public square, buried up to her waist and stoned to death in front of a crowd of 200 earlier this month in the town of Wajid, Somalia. Her boyfriend was given 100 lashes.

Abdirahman Hussein Abbas, a 33-year-old man accused of adultery, was stoned to death earlier this month in Merka, a port town south of Mogadishu. His girlfriend is set to face the same fate after giving birth to their child.

Large parts of Somalia are controlled by a group of Islamic militants loosely working together to overthrow the country's Transitional Federal Government under the banner of the 'Al Shabaab' movement.

Under Al Shabaab's interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law, crimes such as theft and adultery are punishable by floggings, amputation, torture or death.

Al Shabaab considers any person to have ever been married - including a divorcee - to be forbidden from having further relations. The punishment is often death by public stoning.

Al Shabaab executions first made international news a year ago when Amnesty International accused the Islamist group of stoning a 13-year-old rape victim to death in the southern city of Kismayo after she was accused of adultery. Al Shabaab claimed the girl was older and had been married.

Bashir Goth, a Somali analyst and the former editor of Awdal News, said Somalis are shocked by the lack of international interest in the actions of Al-Shabaab.

"Where is the international community, where are the human rights organizations?" he told The Media Line. "These are crimes against humanity. They are stoning people, creating an army of handicapped youth with amputations, even stopping people with golden teeth and removing them."

"There should have been an outcry but there is silence from the international community," he said. "How long do we have to tolerate this until they notice."

"It's sheer madness to me," he added. "None of this is indigenous to Somalia and stoning is not something that you apply habitually as they are doing now in Mogadishu. Even in the prophet's time it was done only once."

"I think in their opinion they think this is the only way they can control people," he said. "It's just to put fear into the people."

Dr Ghanim A-Najjar, the former independent expert on Somalia for the U.N. Human Rights Council and a political scientist at Kuwait University, said that while the stonings were appalling, the Somali Islamist groups were not the principal cause of instability in the country.

"We are talking here about groups that claim certain rules and regulations from Islamic Sharia," Dr A-Najjar told The Media Line. "That is objectively deplorable and we call on Al Shabaab not to continue these practices, but that said this is not the cause of instability in Somalia."

"The interim government of Somalia is itself run by Islamists, so the problem is essentially which Islam we are talking about," he said. "This is the result of the loss of statehood and a central government than can control the country with one set of laws. Without this, smaller groups will run the country in accordance with their understanding of Islamic sharia without regard to the regime of international human rights."

"It's the result of the failure of the international community to put more effort into resolving the instability in Somalia once and for all," Dr A-Najjar continued. "Four years after the UN Security Council called for 8,000 international troops, we still don't even have half of them. So clearly Somalia is not an international priority."

A jihadist movement, Al Shabaab members have cited links with Al Qaeda although most analysts believe the affiliation to be minimal. The group has several thousand fighters divided into regional units, which are thought to operate somewhat independently of one another.

EJ Hogendoorn, the Horn of Africa Project Director for the International Crises Group, argued that Al Shabaab's incongruent groups have created a situation in which the more extreme among them have come to represent the whole.

"I think it's important to note that Al Shabaab is a very disparate coalition of like-minded groups," he told The Media Line. "So there are certain localities that have more conservative leadership than others, and for good or bad the more extreme ones get more media attention than others."

"It's not that widespread," he said. "Al Shabaab is fairly sophisticated when it comes to some of its actions, which are carried out in this way not because they believe this is the most appropriate penalty for people but because they believe it sends out a message both internally and externally about what they seek to further: a religiously minded government based on a very conservative, literal reading of the Koran."

Somalia has not had a functioning government since the 1991 ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre. The ensuing years have seen a chaotic system of rival clans controlling various parts of Somalia, with some of the worst fighting in years seen across the country over the past few months.

The battles pit moderate Islamists and soldiers of the shaky, Western-supported transitional government against militants from Al Shabaab.

Al Shabaab began an insurgency in late 2006 with assassinations and suicide bombings against the transitional government and aid workers, particularly in Mogadishu.

Originally the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union, a group that controlled Mogadishu prior to the invasion by Ethiopian forces, Al Shabaab has made significant gains in the Horn of Africa nation and now controls much of Southern Somalia.

Western government's fear that Somalia's instability may provide a safe haven for terrorist groups, and some foreign militants are believed to have entered Somalia to join Al Shabaab's ranks.

The US has launched selected air strikes against Al Shabaab leaders thought to have ties to Al Qaeda, but analysts say this has only increased their support among Somalis.

The Western-backed Ethiopian military invaded the country in 2007, but many analysts believe this augmented Al Shabaab's insurgency campaign. Battles between Al Shabaab and Ethiopian forces caused roughly 400,000 people to flee the capital in August 2007.

The Ethiopians withdrew in January of this year after Al Shabaab attacked its forces for over 16 months.

African Union (AU) peacekeepers have also been in the country since 2007, but have made little impact with just over 3,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi.


Imam's e-mails to Fort Hood suspect tame compared with online rhetoric


Irrelevant point, of course…different contexts and different audiences…Doubtful Hitler ranted and raved all of the time either.





Imam's e-mails to Fort Hood suspect tame compared with online rhetoric

11:58 PM CST on Saturday, November 28, 2009

By BROOKS EGERTON / The Dallas Morning News

E-mails between a U.S. Army officer and a radical Muslim cleric did not worry anti-terrorism investigators, they said, because nothing in the correspondence presaged violence. But elsewhere on the Internet, the imam was urging people to kill soldiers and others.

After accused Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan started e-mailing in December, the cleric increased the pace of his fundamentalist rhetoric on the Web, a Dallas Morning News investigation found.

Also Online

More on Nidal Malik Hasan

"I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies," Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric with suspected ties to al-Qaeda, wrote in a February blog entry.

The cleric and the Army major are believed to have met at least eight years ago, when al-Awlaki preached at a northern Virginia mosque attended by Hasan's family. Both were born in the United States to prosperous Middle Eastern parents nearly 40 years ago; both earned advanced degrees at American universities.

Then they went seemingly separate ways. Hasan focused on becoming an Army psychiatrist, while al-Awlaki left the U.S. after the FBI questioned him about ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

The bilingual imam ended up imprisoned in his parents' native Yemen, accused of supporting terrorists there. He emerged nearly two years ago, more radical than ever. He set up a Web site that gave him an even broader reach and included an e-mail link so readers could contact him.

For those who didn't speak Arabic, such as Hasan, al-Awlaki made pronouncements in English: "We will implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not."

In the months leading up to Nov. 5 Fort Hood massacre, the two men's paths began to intersect again.

FBI officials acknowledged that a terrorism task force began intercepting Hasan's e-mails with al-Awlaki starting in December. The information was not flagged to the attention of the Army, which had its own concerns about Hasan's performance as a psychiatrist.

Instead, investigators determined there was no need to probe further because Hasan's questions to al-Awlaki were consistent with his psychiatric research, there was no indication he was planning violence, and he was not "directed to do anything," officials said.

But the Muslim cleric didn't need to give specific direction by e-mail. His exhortations about killing – soldiers, innocent women and children, blasphemers, even oneself – were readily available until his online site went dead a few days after the Fort Hood shootings. The News found al-Awlaki's speeches and blogs by combing through Web archives and reviewing online recordings and transcripts.

Al-Awlaki blogged on subjects that touched on the very core of the major's identity: military membership; U.S. wars in Muslim countries; the legitimacy of suicide attacks; Israel's war with Palestinians in Gaza, an occupied territory near Hasan's parents' homeland.

In a Dec. 11 posting, for example, al-Awlaki condemned the Muslim who seeks a religious decree "that would allow him to serve in the armies of the disbelievers and fight against his brothers." Shortly after, according to the FBI timeline, Hasan sent his first e-mail to al-Awlaki.

In another blog posting, on July 14, al-Awlaki railed against armies of Muslim countries that assist the U.S. military, saying, "the blame should be placed on the soldier who is willing to follow orders ... who sells his religion for a few dollars." On Aug. 1, Hasan purchased a handgun and laser sight at a Killeen gun store.

The Department of Homeland Security's chief intelligence officer warned, two months before Hasan first contacted al-Awlaki, that the imam was an "example of al-Qaeda reach" into the United States.

Now working outside government, Charles E. Allen sees no legitimate reason for Hasan's e-mails.

"I find it difficult to understand why an Army major would be in repeated contact with an Islamic extremist like Anwar al-Awlaki, who preaches a hateful ideology directed at inciting violence against the United States and the West," Allen told The News. "It is hard to see how repeated contact would in any legitimate way further his research as a psychiatrist."

But Allen stopped short of criticizing the FBI, saying that it is "extraordinarily stretched in working counterterrorism cases."

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who was a senior adviser to three presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues, is less forgiving.

"E-mailing a known al-Qaeda sympathizer should have set off alarm bells," said Riedel, who also left government recently. "Even if he was exchanging recipes, the bureau should have put out an alert."


The lives of Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki intersected long before the Fort Hood shooting.

2001-early 2002 –Al-Awlaki serves as imam of the Virginia mosque where Hasan's family worships. Some of the 9/11 hijackers worship there, too, and previously worshipped under al-Awlaki in San Diego. The FBI repeatedly questions, but does not charge, the imam. Al-Awlaki tells National Geographic: "There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion." He soon leaves the U.S., going first to Britain and then settling in his parents' native Yemen.

2006 –Al-Awlaki records a speech in English titled "Allah Is Preparing Us for Victory." It includes this passage: "Some Muslims say the way forward for this ummah [the Muslim people] is to distance itself from terrorism and spend their time in becoming good in business, good in technology, agriculture and the rest; and this is how we can compete with the rest of the world." But the Prophet Muhammad "said that this is wrong," al-Awlaki preached. "The solution of the ummah is to go back to jihad fi sabeelillah [armed struggle]."

August 2006 –Yemen arrests al-Awlaki, accusing him of providing religious endorsement to kidnappers who held a wealthy teenager for ransom. The kidnappers also planned to seize a U.S. official in Yemen, authorities there recently told The Associated Press.

Mid-2007 –An official at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington writes a memo saying that Hasan has been "counseled for inappropriately discussing religious topics" with his psychiatric patients. Hasan soon presents a class lecture on religious conflicts that Muslim soldiers may experience because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He says they should have "the option of being released as 'conscientious objectors' to increase troop morale and decrease adverse events." One such example he cites: A Muslim soldier killed two comrades and wounded 14 in Kuwait at the start of the Iraq war. Prosecutors have said the soldier was concerned that troops would kill Muslims.

Fall 2007 –Hasan begins a two-year fellowship in disaster and preventive psychiatry at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, just outside Washington. Among other things, the program "is designed to provide military psychiatrists with expertise on preparing for and responding to mass casualty events."

December 2007 –Yemen frees al-Awlaki. He soon tells the British organization Cageprisoners, which represents people detained in the war on terrorism, that he was held initially "because I entered as an arbitrator in a local issue here, a tribal issue." Next, "they began asking me questions about my local Islamic activities here, and later on it was becoming clear that I was being held due to the request of the U.S. government." He says the FBI questioned him about the 9/11 attacks and other issues, which he does not specify. Neither country filed any criminal charges, he said.

Spring 2008 –The Web site goes live. It includes an e-mail link for al-Awlaki, who is variously described as "Sheikh Anwar" and "Imam Anwar."

May 11, 2008 –Al-Awlaki records a lecture called "Battle of the Hearts and Minds," ridiculing a U.S. government consultant's report on how to encourage "positive change in the Islamic world."

According to a transcript of that lecture, al-Awlaki says:

•"When the U.S. Army kills and bombs entire residences and kills everybody inside it, women, children and elderly, keep that aside and not talk about it, and forget about it, and if it becomes revealed to the world then we will find an excuse! However, if the Muslims in their fight in the path of Allah commit a mistake or an unintentional accident happened, let's make a big deal out of it and blow it out of proportion."

•"The fundamentalists and extremists, whom they despise, are not only going to win in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they will continue their march until they drag your people, the Jews, out of the Holy Land and plant their black banners on the rooftops of Jerusalem."

•Western leaders "will spend millions of dollars, and it will be fruitless! And then in the end they will lose, and then after that they will be in hellfire!"

May 26, 2008 –In an online lecture titled "The Dust Will Never Settle Down," al-Awlaki refers repeatedly to a Danish newspaper cartoon that included derogatory images of the prophet Muhammad. He cites several parables as requiring the summary execution of blasphemers. In one, he says the Prophet tells Jews that if they defame him, "there is nothing between us and you except the sword! There will be no dialogue, there will be no forgiveness, there will be no building of bridges, there will be no attempts of reconciliation." Al-Awlaki also tells listeners that they "don't need the permission of anyone" to kill in such circumstances. And saying that Muhammad has a dirty button is blasphemy, he argues: "Even if it is as small as saying that, then this person should be executed!"

Mid-2008 –Al-Awlaki quits checking in regularly with Yemeni authorities, as required by terms of his release, according to the AP. Authorities are quoted as saying they put him on a list of people suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda.

Aug. 29, 2008 –"We will implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not," al-Awlaki says on his blog. "What I mean by jihad here is not just picking up a gun and fighting. Jihad is broader than that. What is meant by jihad in this context is a total effort by the ummah to fight and defeat its enemy."

Oct. 6, 2008 –"If you are a person whom Allah has bestowed wealth upon then you should avoid owning property in the U.S.," the blog says. "Muslims should not be supporting the economy of a nation that is fighting them."

Oct. 28, 2008 –The Department of Homeland Security's chief intelligence officer, Charles E. Allen, says in a speech: "Another example of al-Qaeda reach into the homeland is U.S. citizen, al-Qaeda supporter and former spiritual leader to three of the September 11th hijackers Anwar al-Awlaki – who targets U.S. Muslims with radical online lectures encouraging terrorist attacks from his new home in Yemen."

Oct. 31, 2008 –"Democracy is an un-Islamic system and we as Muslims should have nothing to do with it," al-Awlaki blogs in advance of the U.S. presidential election. "No matter how irrelevant your vote is, on the Day of Judgment you will be called to answer for it. You, under no coercion or duress, consciously chose to vote for the leader of a nation that is leading the war against Islam."

Dec. 11, 2008 –Al-Awlaki's blog condemns the Muslim who "is tolerant and kind towards the disbelievers." Such a man "would speak against his brothers and betray them. He may even advise Muslims to spy against one another and report to the authorities. For him fighting for Islam and for the ummah is terrorism, but he manages to shop for a fatwa [Islamic law ruling] that would allow him to serve in the armies of the disbelievers and fight against his brothers."

Mid-December 2008 –Hasan begins e-mailing al-Awlaki, according to U.S. officials. An FBI-led terrorism task force intercepts the messages but decides not to investigate after concluding that Hasan's questions are consistent with his psychiatric research and that al-Awlaki did not advocate violence. The questions reportedly covered matters such as whether jihad could be justified if innocent people were killed.

Dec. 21, 2008 –Al-Awlaki endorses a group in Somalia that the U.S. brands a terrorist organization. "Al-Shabab not only have succeeded in expanding the areas that fall under their rule but they have succeeded in implementing the sharia [Islamic law] and giving us a living example of how we as Muslims should proceed to change our situation," he blogs. "The ballot has failed us but the bullet has not." U.S. officials have indicted 14 people for allegedly trying to recruit Somali Americans to join the group, in what is said to be one of the largest domestic terrorism investigations since 9/11.

Dec. 23, 2008 –Al-Awlaki's blog praises both the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush and Muslim fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, calling them "a reflection of the feelings of the Muslims toward America."

Dec. 27, 2008 –On his blog, al-Awlaki responds to Allen's Oct. 28 speech. He denies being a spiritual adviser to the 9/11 hijackers and challenges the intelligence officer to cite any lecture "where I encourage 'terrorist attacks.' "

Dec. 28, 2008 –Al-Awlaki justifies the killing of innocents while blogging about Israel's air war against the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip. "So far the death toll is approaching three hundred and all what we see is condemnations, demonstrations and Arab leaders calling for another useless summit," he writes. "The Jews of Palestine need to be driven out to the sea. There are no Israeli civilians unless they are Muslim." He notes that "our brothers in Palestine" use tactics such as suicide bombings that kill women and children. "I agree with them when they state that they would not stop targeting civilians until the Israelis do the same."

Jan. 5, 2009 –Al-Awlaki posts "44 Ways to Support Jihad" on his blog, citing a recent Israeli invasion into Gaza that kills more than 1,000 Palestinians. Among the pronouncements: "Probably the most important contribution the Muslims of the West could do for Jihad is making Jihad with their wealth." He also urges them to avoid luxury, get arms training and pray to die practicing jihad. "Our culture of martyrdom needs to be revived because the enemy of Allah fears nothing more than our love of death," he writes.

Jan. 22, 2009 –Al-Awlaki blogs about warriors in a parable who chose to die rather than surrender, saying that they did not commit the sin of suicide: "If the intentions of the Muslim are good and for the sake of Allah then he is a shaheed [martyr] whether he died by the enemy or by his own hands. It is the intention that counts."

Feb. 12, 2009 –Al-Awlaki's blog says that the U.S. "war on terror" is failing and adds: "I pray that America sees no progress at all. I pray that Allah destroys America and all its allies and the day that happens, and I assure you it will and sooner than you think, I will be very pleased." He also says: "If a Muslim kills each and every civilian disbeliever on the face of the earth he is still a Muslim and we cannot side with the disbelievers against him."

March 1, 2009 –Muslims cannot choose which parts of the religion to follow, al-Awlaki tells a Pakistani audience via teleconference from Yemen. "There is no separation of church and state," he adds. He also says Muslim believers worldwide constitute a nation and urges them to ignore those who say jihad is not about fighting. "Muslim land is occupied. Oppression is widespread," he says. "What time is better for jihad than today?"

May 17, 2009 –The Army promotes Hasan to the rank of major.

May 20, 2009 –Someone using the name Nidal Hasan posts on another online site a comment that is similar to al-Awlaki's Jan. 22 blog. It compares suicide bombers to a U.S. soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades and to Japanese kamikaze pilots in World War II. "Their intention is not to die because of some despair," the writer says. "Their act was not one of suicide that is despised by Islam." Scholars' assessment, he adds emphatically, "is that 'IT SEEMS AS THOUGH YOUR INTENTION IS THE MAIN ISSUE.' "

Summer-Fall 2009 –Hasan, having completed his studies, is transferred to Fort Hood, where he is assigned to work with soldiers who are psychiatric patients. He rents a tiny apartment near the post for about $300 a month, although he earns more than $92,000 a year. During this time, he:

•Is told he will be deployed to Afghanistan near the end of the year.

•Repeatedly asks Killeen mosque leader Osman Danquah what to tell Muslim soldiers who don't want to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also asks for support in becoming a lay Muslim leader on the Army post. Danquah says he refused and told Hasan, "There's something wrong with you," according to the AP.

•Seeks war-crimes prosecutions of some patients based on their psychiatric disclosures, Fort Hood-based Capt. Shannon Meehan recently told The Dallas Morning News.

•Wires money to Pakistan, for reasons that remain unclear. A federal law enforcement official recently told The News that the transfers were unrelated to terrorism.

July 14, 2009 –Al-Awlaki's blog calls for attacking soldiers of Muslim countries' armies, who "are fighting on behalf of America against the mujahedeen in Pakistan." He adds: "The blame should be placed on the soldier who is willing to follow orders.... This soldier is a heartless beast, bent on evil, who sells his religion for a few dollars."

Aug. 1, 2009 –Hasan buys a handgun and laser sight in Killeen. Al-Awlaki's blog touts Islamist rebel successes in Yemen: "May this be the beginning of the greatest Jihad, the Jihad of the Arabian Peninsula that would free the heart of the Islamic world from the tyrants who are deceiving the ummah and standing between us and victory."

Aug. 15, 2009 –Hasan's car is vandalized, allegedly by a traumatized veteran of the Iraq war who was angered by a bumper sticker praising Allah.

Fall 2009 –Meehan's book Beyond Duty is published, recounting his horrific experiences as a tank commander in Iraq. He describes accidentally killing a family with six children and says he isn't sure he supports the war. "I killed people," he writes, "who did not deserve to die." The book is distributed to and discussed by psychiatrists at Fort Hood, where Meehan was treated for depression and a traumatic brain injury. Hasan gets a copy of the book, according to its co-author, but refuses to have it autographed or to meet Meehan.

Oct. 7, 2009 –Al-Awlaki blogs about the aftermath of 9/11: "The American people gave G.W. Bush unanimous backing to fight against the mujahedeen and gave him a blank check to spend as much as needed to fulfill that objective. The result? He failed, and he failed miserably. So if America failed to defeat the mujahedeen when it gave its president unlimited support, how can it win with Obama who is on a short leash?"

Nov. 1, 2009 –A directive sent to jihadist Web sites calls for Muslims to attack Westerners "whenever you find one of them," using readily available weapons instead of engaging in elaborate plots and trying to amass large quantities of explosives. The directive comes from Nasir al-Wahayshi, a Yemeni who served as an aide to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Terrorism expert Scott Stewart, a former State Department security agent who works for the Austin-based research firm Stratfor, told The News he knows of no evidence that al-Awlaki and al-Wahayshi work together. But he said both studied under the same extremist cleric at a university in Yemen. It's unclear whether Hasan knew about al-Wahayshi's directive.

Nov. 3, 2009 –Hasan begins giving away personal belongings and copies of the Quran to neighbors in preparation, he says, for his deployment to Afghanistan.

Nov. 5, 2009 –Twelve soldiers and a civilian are shot to death at Fort Hood. Dozens more, including the alleged gunman Hasan, are wounded.

Nov. 9, 2009 –Awlaki's Web site quits working, for unexplained reasons, after he posts this on his blog:

"Nidal Hassan is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people. This is a contradiction that many Muslims brush aside and just pretend that it doesn't exist. Any decent Muslim cannot live, understanding properly his duties towards his Creator and his fellow Muslims, and yet serve as a U.S. soldier. The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam. Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges.

"Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.

"The heroic act of brother Nidal also shows the dilemma of the Muslim American community. Increasingly they are being cornered into taking stances that would either make them betray Islam or betray their nation. Many amongst them are choosing the former. The Muslim organizations in America came out in a pitiful chorus condemning Nidal's operation. ...

"May Allah grant our brother Nidal patience, perseverance and steadfastness and we ask Allah to accept from him his great heroic act. Ameen."


Somali training camps fuel threat of attacks on US


Somali training camps fuel threat of attacks on US

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN and JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writers Mohamed Olad Hassan And Jason Straziuso, Associated Press Writers – Sun Nov 29, 10:22 am ET

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The recruits gather in scorching desert hideouts in Somalia, use portraits of President Barack Obama for target practice, learn how to make and detonate bombs, and vow allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

Training camps in the lawless nation of Somalia are attracting hundreds of foreigners, including Americans, and Somalis recruited by a local insurgent group linked to al-Qaida, according to local and U.S. officials. American officials and private analysts say the camps pose a security threat far beyond the borders of Somalia, including to the U.S. homeland.

In interviews with The Associated Press, former trainees gave rare details on the camps, which are scattered along desert footpaths, rutted roads and steamy coastal dens. They say the recruits are told the United States is the enemy of Islam.

U.S. and Somali officials say Somalia's al-Shabab jihadist, or holy war, movement is growing, and uses foreign trainers with battlefield experience from other conflicts.

The threat posed by the training camps was underscored in federal court documents unsealed Nov. 23 in Minneapolis, home to a large Somali-American community. An indictment against several Somali-Americans who allegedly fought in Somalia said trainees at one camp included dozens of ethnic Somalis from Somalia and other African countries, Europe and the United States.

"The trainees were trained by, among others, Somali, Arab, and Western instructors in ... small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and military-style tactics," said an affidavit from FBI Special Agent Michael N. Cannizzaro Jr. that was unsealed with the indictment.

Former al-Shabab fighter Hassan Yare, who works in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, said life in the camps is austere. Recruits sleep on plastic sheets and sometimes eat only one meal a day — often maize cooked with water. Phones are confiscated. Recruits are only allowed to speak to their parents once every other Friday — Islam's holy day.

"The message is simple," Dahir Muhiyadiin, 18, said three months after finishing his training at a camp run by Somalia's main insurgent group. "We are taught how the Western infidels want to eradicate pure Muslims, about how the U.S. government does nothing as Israel harasses our Muslim Palestinians."

Al-Shabab — "the youth" in Arabic — controls much of the desert nation's southern region and holds large parts of Mogadishu. It wants to overthrow the government and install a strict form of Islam. Analysts say the group has between 2,000 and 3,000 fighters.

Among al-Shabab's ranks are an estimated 200 to 400 foreigners from Pakistan, Chechnya, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and other countries — many of them veterans of fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Mark Schroeder, an Africa analyst at the global intelligence firm Stratfor.

The proliferation of jihadist training camps raises concerns that Somalia will become the next Afghanistan — a sanctuary for al-Qaida-linked groups to train and plan attacks. The Somali government seems powerless to do anything about it.

"The threat posed by al-Shabab is something that we pay very, very close attention to," Vice Adm. Robert T. Moeller, the deputy commander for the U.S. military's Africa Command, told AP at the command's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

The government is backed by 5,000 African Union peacekeepers but controls only a few blocks in Mogadishu. The insurgents are so confident that they stage executions of suspected spies there.

Jihadists linked to al-Shabab can also roam through neighboring countries without attracting much attention and already cross boldly into northern Kenya.

U.S. officials are concerned Somali-Americans who fought with al-Shabab will return to the United States and carry out attacks. As many as 20 from Minnesota have been lured to their ancestral homeland to join the jihad. At least one blew himself up in a suicide attack in Somalia.

One of the documents unsealed in Minneapolis gave details on that attack. It said Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Minneapolis resident, took part in a truck-bombing in Bossaso, Somalia, on Oct. 29, 2008, against offices of a regional intelligence service. Ahmed, who was alone in the truck, was identified through a fingerprint obtained from a finger found at the bomb site.

A Somali-American from Seattle is suspected of also having taken part in a suicide attack against an AU peacekeeper base on Sept. 17. U.S. authorities said they are awaiting DNA test results to confirm it.

Michael Leiter, the director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, told Congress in September there is "significant concern" that al-Qaida operatives in Somalia may commission Americans to return to the U.S. and launch attacks. In recent weeks, al-Shabab has threatened to attack Uganda, Kenya, Israel and other countries, although it has not made a direct public threat against the United States.

About a dozen al-Qaida operatives are in Somalia with ties to al-Shabab, Schroeder said. One of them, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, is wanted for al-Qaida's 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Somalia is among a handful of places where terrorists can train openly. The U.S. State Department says terrorist training also takes place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of North Africa, the Philippines, Lebanon, Yemen and Colombia.

The United States withdrew most of its troops from Somalia in 1994, months after 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in the battle described in the book "Black Hawk Down." The soldiers had been deployed to help amid a famine but became embroiled in clan warfare. The U.S. is leery of making such a large commitment again but is still engaged.

On Sept. 14, U.S. commandos on helicopters strafed a convoy carrying top al-Qaida fugitive Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in rural southern Somalia, rappelled to the ground, collected his body and another corpse and took off. Nabhan was wanted for the 2002 car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner.

In October, the U.S. began using sophisticated Reaper surveillance drones in the region, initially to hunt for pirates. Analysts expect they will also be used to search for militants in Somalia.

Al-Shabab recently released a video showing its members vowing allegiance to bin Laden, training in dusty camps and calling Somalia's U.S.-backed President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed a traitor. The militants leaped over sandbags, crawled on the ground and fired at targets under the gaze of light-skinned, bearded trainers.

Recruits are trained in intelligence matters and explosives, said an al-Shabab official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Suleyman Hussein, a former al-Shabab fighter who defected to a government-allied militia, told AP that camp leaders affixed photos of Obama and Ahmed to wooden boards.

"They were our targets," he said.

Somali Police Chief Abdi Hassan Awale said the camps are mostly near the Kenyan border and are drawing more recruits. He said one camp is near Raaskambooni, a town along the Indian Ocean less than two miles (3 kilometers) from the Kenyan border.

"Most of the trainers are foreigners, including people from Western countries," he said. "We do not know exactly how many there are, but we estimate hundreds."

Awale said al-Shabab tries to recruit the poorest, the mentally ill and teenagers who have lost their parents in Somalia's violence. He accused the group of brainwashing recruits "with false, un-Islamic ideas imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Somalia has many orphans that al-Shabab can try to recruit. As many as 22,000 civilians have been killed and 1.1 million displaced in the past two years, according to Ted Dagne, an African affairs specialist with the Congressional Research Service.