Morning Security Brief: 9-11 Anniversary Threat, Domestic Militias on the Rise, GPS Tracking, and More
No arrests based on the tip received over the weekend of a 9-11 anniversary attack. An Iraqi militia leader is calling for his followers to suspend attacks on U.S. troops. Judges raise concerns over GPS tracking. And more.
►Still no arrests based on the tip American officials received over the weekend that said three men, agents of al Qaeda, had plans to launch a car bomb attack on Sunday for the anniversary of 9-11. “A CIA informant who has proved reliable in the past approached intelligence officials overseas to say that the men had been ordered by newly minted al-Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahri to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks Sunday by doing harm on U.S. soil,” the Associated Press reports. The tip even provided possible names. Counterterrorism officials have been working to determine if the threat was real, but have been unable to corroborate it so far.
►Moqtada al-Sadr leads a militia that has fought U.S. forces for years in Iraq, but now he’s calling for a cease-fire . In a statement released on Sunday, the Shi’ite cleric called on his followers to suspend attacks on U.S. troops to ensure they leave Iraq on deadline. Troops are scheduled to completely withdraw by December 31. al-Sadr said if U.S. troops were still in Iraq past the deadline, attacks would resume with “new approaches” that would be “very severe.” The U.S. says for the most part the militia has demobilized, but there have still been attacks from splinter groups, Reuters reports.
►Security analysts say the number of domestic militias in the U.S. has seen “explosive growth.” Data from the Southern Poverty Law Center says there are 330 active militias in the U.S, up from 43 in 2007. For some, the decision to join a militia is fueled by frustration with congress and worries about the economy. Others are looking for survival skills in the event the country falls into chaos. Unfortunately, analysts say, the resurgence of militias has failed to grab much interest from government agencies. “We literally have a domestic terrorism incident, suspected incident or related arrest almost every month now and I think that this threat is being ignored by people in government, Daryl Johnson, a former Department of Homeland Security senior analyst was quoted by the Naples Daily News.
►Judges, in court rulings around the country, are raising concerns about GPS tracking and possible violations of the Fourth Amendment. This November, judges will hear arguments in the United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259 – a case the New York Times calls the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade. It will address whether authorities need a warrant to attach a GPS device on a suspect’s car to track movement for weeks at a time. “Their answer will bring Fourth Amendment law into the digital age, addressing how its 18th-century prohibition of ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ applies to a world in which people’s movements are continuously recorded by devices in their cars, pockets, and purses, by toll plazas and by transit systems, the Times reports.
►In other news, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture of militia leader Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, who was sprung from death row last week in a brazen attack that left two security guards dead. In all, 967 prisoners escaped. 230 have been recovered. ♦ An infographic from The Daily Beast, based on data from researchers, says in the past 10 years, $3,228,000,000,000 spent on national security has foiled 40 domestic terrorism plots. ♦ Thirteen Dallas locals were indicted last week for trafficking cocaine for Los Zetas cartel , raising concerns that the power of the cartels has spread much further than the border. ♦ And in an interview with Al-Jazeera, a former adviser to President George W. Bush says he should have stopped Bush from saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in his 2003 State of the Union Address.