Morning Security Brief: Indian Bioterror Fears, Holiday Terror Advisory, Radicalization, Counterradicalization, & Ecoterrorism

By Matthew Harwood


♦  A State Department cable from 2006 disclosed by WikiLeaks reveals the Indian government fears a bioterrorism attack from jihadist groups. "Turning to the subject of counter-bio-terrorism cooperation, [Indian diplomat] Singh reported that Indian intelligence is picking up chatter indicating jihadi groups are interested in bio-terrorism, for example seeking out like-minded PhD's in biology and bio-technology," the cable says. "He compared the prospects for nuclear terrorism ('still in the realm of the imaginary') to bio-terrorism ('an ideal weapon for terrorism ... anthrax could pose a serious problem is no longer an academic exercise for us.')"aks reveals the Indian government feared  jihadist groups were interested in conducting bioterrorism attacks. According to the Guardian's Jason Burke, the cable "also warns terrorists could easily find the material they need for bioterrorism in India and use the country as a base for launching an international campaign involving the spread of fatal diseases."

♦ The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned state and local authorities to be alert during the holiday season for fear terrorists may attack large holiday crowds. "The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued an intelligence bulletin Wednesday to encourage law enforcement agencies to be watchful," reports"Terrorists may seek to exploit the likely significant psychological impact of an attack targeting mass gatherings in large metropolitan areas during the 2010 holiday season which has symbolic importance to many in the United States," a copy of the bulletin obtained by the news networks says."We continue to assess, however, the timing of a terrorist attack depends more on terrorists' readiness to execute an attack rather than a desire to attack on a specific date."

♦ High on the list of priorities for the incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is Muslim radicalization in the United States. "Representative Peter T. King of New York, who will become the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he was responding to what he has described as frequent concerns raised by law enforcement officials that Muslim leaders have been uncooperative in terror investigations," reports The New York Times. "He cited the case of Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan man and a legal resident of the United States, who was arrested last year for plotting to bomb the New York subway system. Mr. King said that Ahmad Wais Afzali, an imam in Queens who had been a police informant, had warned Mr. Zazi before his arrest that he was the target of a terror investigation."

♦ In other radicalization news, Arun Kundnani, a fellow at the New York-based Open Society, takes to the virtual pages of to argue that Britain's counterradicalization program, known as Prevent, is not an appropriate model for the United States. "There was overwhelming concern that the policy construed the entire British Muslim population -- roughly two million citizens -- as uniquely and collectively responsible for preventing terrorist incidents," writes Kundnani, who spent a year researching Prevent's effects on Britain's Muslim communities. "That perception was graphically illustrated by Preventing Violent Extremism funding, which was allocated in direct proportion to the number of Muslims in each local authority area, counted according to the 2001 census (the first to include a question on religion). As it became clear that the program constructed Muslims as a suspect community, more and more of the government's Muslim community partners began to disengage."

♦ A federal appeals court upheld the 22-year-long sentence of ecoterrorist Marie Mason for various acts of arson and destruction of property. Mason appealed that the length of her sentence was unfair because other similar perpetrators had caused more damage but received less time. The court replied those culprits cooperated with police.  "Mason admitted pouring fuel and starting a fire at Michigan State's Agriculture Hall to protest plant research in 1999," reports the Associated Press. "She acknowledged 12 other acts of property destruction in Michigan and Indiana. Her sentence is considered the longest in the U.S. for acts of eco-terrorism."


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