Judicial Watch • Homeland Security

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Years after implementing a costly passenger screening program, the Homeland Security agency responsible for protecting the nation’s transportation system failed to detect terrorists at U.S. airports on nearly two dozen occasions.As a result the terrorists slipped right through “security” checkpoints and boarded commercial airplanes, according to a government report that’s difficult to swallow nearly a decade after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history. Unfortunately, it’s true and, not surprisingly, it involves the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which was created after 9/11 mainly to prevent terrorists from using planes as weapons of mass destruction.The agency’s perpetual blunders have been well documented by Judicial Watch over the years, but this seems to be the icing on the cake for an agency with unlimited resources and unconditional support from Congress and the White House. A heavily-touted and quite expensive TSA program that targets terrorists by observing their behavior has failed miserably, according to a congressional probe conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).Known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT), the innovative project was implemented with great fanfare to enhance aviation security after Islamic terrorist slammed commercial jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In 2010 SPOT cost taxpayers nearly $212 million and the Obama Administration wants $232 million for it this year.But on at least 23 occasions its highly specialized Behavior Detection Officers failed to stop terrorists from boarding planes, investigators found. At least 16 people who were later charged or pleaded guilty to terrorism charges slipped through eight different U.S. airports with SPOT programs, according to the GAO’s findings.It gets better. Most of the airports where terrorists boarded planes rank among the top 10 highest risk on the TSA’s Airport Threat Assessment list. For instance, an individual who subsequently pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport en route to Somalia an another who later admitted providing Al Qaeda with material support took a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport to participate in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.Before pouring more taxpayer dollars into this dubious security program perhaps the Obama Administration should consider a point made by congressional investigators in their report; “the TSA deployed its behavior detection program nationwide before first determining whether there was a scientifically valid basis for the program.”

“It is no coincidence that this stunning reversal comes on the day that President Obama announced his reelection campaign. We are grateful that the opposition of the American people beat back the ‘terrorist lobby’ in the Obama administration to keep the KSM trial in Gitmo, where it belongs.”

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Washington, DC — April 4, 2011

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued the following statement today regarding the Obama Justice Department’s stunning reversal that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried by a military commission and not by a civil court in New York City, as the Obama administration had originally planned.

“It is no coincidence that this stunning reversal comes on the day that President Obama announced his reelection campaign. We are grateful that the opposition of the American people beat back the ‘terrorist lobby’ in the Obama administration to keep the KSM trial in Gitmo, where it belongs. The mishandling of the KSM trial is another blow to Attorney General Eric Holder, who should have been replaced long ago. Mr. Holder has demonstrated that he is incapable of providing the leadership necessary for the fair and competent administration of justice at DOJ.“KSM long ago pled guilty to the charges initially brought against him in military commission proceedings. That he still walks the face of the Earth highlights the moral and strategic failure of the Obama administration’s approach to the terrorist detention issue. We hope this political decision will begin to undo the damage done to our nation’s security by the Obama administration’s ideological attack on Gitmo.”

Regarding the military tribunal system, Judicial Watch Litigation Director Paul Orfanedes visited Guantanamo Bay in 2008 by invitation to monitor military commission proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top 9/11 conspirators. Judicial Watch’s presence provided some balance to the ACLU and other radical groups advocating for the terrorist detainees. Following his visit to Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Orfanedes said he witnessed a “deep commitment” to justice on the part of military lawyers.Judicial Watch has been sharply critical of the Obama administration’s mishandling of the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed decision and the administration’s expressed intent to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Judicial Watch has also battled the Obama administration to obtain documents that would shed light on the threat of terrorism and the administration’s response.For example, Judicial Watch recently obtained documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing the significant risks of releasing “enemy combatants” detained at Guantanamo Bay. Judicial Watch also obtained documents from the Obama DOD detailing a deliberate campaign by al-Qaida and other extremist groups to recruit juveniles and launch terrorist attacks against children. The records consist of two Joint Task Force Intelligence Information Reports from debriefs of detainees at the U.S. terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.In 2009, Judicial Watch released a CIA report entitled, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad: Preeminent Source on Al Qa’ida, which documented the information gained by interrogations of Mohammed: “KSM’s decade-long career as a terrorist, during which he met with a broad range of Islamic extremists from around the world, has made him a key source of information on numerous al-Qaida operatives and other mujahidin. He has provided intelligence that has led directly to the capture of operatives or fleshed out our understanding of the activities of important detainees, which in turn assisted in the debriefings of these individuals.” This document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

“Approximately 40% of al-Qaida members in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are composed of juveniles under the age of 18”; Islamic Extremist Groups “encourage their members to launch attacks on children”

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Washington, DC — March 17, 2011

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Obama Department of Defense detailing a deliberate campaign by al-Qaida and other extremist groups to recruit juveniles and launch terrorist attacks against children. The records consist of two Joint Task Force Intelligence Information Reports from debriefs of detainees at the U.S. terrorist detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Among the highlights of the records obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request originally filed by Judicial Watch on August 26, 2005, with the Defense Intelligence Agency:

  • Extremist groups in Saudi Arabia and Yemen used religion as the main mechanism for recruiting juveniles. Extremist groups preferred juveniles who were poor or involved in illegal activities since they made easy targets for recruitment.
  • Extremist groups are not looking for a particular characteristic in a recruit, but prefer juveniles who are poor or are involved in drinking and drugs. The juveniles are looking for happiness and fulfillment in their lives, and they have not found it. For these reasons they are susceptible to being brainwashed by extremist groups.
  • No juvenile has resisted taking part in an operation. Most juveniles are eager to participate after hearing a religious speech given by one of the trainers at the camp.
  • The Terrorist and Extremist Groups (TEGS) justify their attacks on young children (ages 5 through 17) by claiming that the children are either non-believers or children of non-believers. The attacks on children are deliberate actions.
  • The attacks on children are psychological operations against non-believers to prevent them from organizing against the TEGS. The TEGS attack schools and buses to maximize psychological effect. Attacks against children in schools and buses are used because they are easy targets. The attacks are conducted to show non-believers how little the TEGS think of non-believers’ lives who are against Islam.
  • The TEGS consider attacks on children legitimate. The TEGS believe the attacks on children are a religious good deed and attackers will go to heaven. The TEGS encourage their members to launch attacks on children.
  • Juvenile females are recruited into the extremist groups, but not for operational purposes. The juvenile females become brides for extremist members.

The records note that “approximately 40% of al-Qaida members in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq are composed of juveniles under the age of 18.” Terrorists recruit juveniles at Koran study groups, soccer games, summer camps, trips to other cities and swimming pools. Some extremists with connections to law enforcement purposely target potential juvenile recruits for arrest and coercion while detained in jail.“These documents describe al-Qaida’s evil strategy: Target and recruit impressionable juveniles to carry out terrorist acts while purposely inflicting violence on children to strike fear in those who oppose them,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We should be concerned that radical Islamists are using their religion to brainwash young people to commit terrorist acts and to justify the murder of innocent children. It should not have taken more than five years and two presidential administrations to force the release these documents. It is essential to telling the American people the truth about the strategies and tactics of Islamic extremists.”(In November, 2001, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Senior Advisor to bin Laden and al-Qaida spokesman, said, “We have not reached parity with [America]. We have the right to kill four million Americans, two million of them children and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.” [Emphasis added])The issue of Islamic terrorists attacking children made headlines on March 11 when a suspected Palestinian terrorist murdered five members of an Israeli family, including a three-month old infant, while they slept. According to The Boston Globe, “The Al-Qassam Brigades, a branch of Hamas, argued that the murder of Israeli settlers was permitted by international law. 4 A day later it changed its tune, insisted that ‘harming children is not part of Hamas’s policy,’ and suggested instead that the massacre might have been committed by Jews.”

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Washington, DC — March 9, 2011

Below is the text of a letter Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton sent to Congressman Peter King (R-NY) regarding the radicalization of American Muslims. Tomorrow, Congressman King is chairing a hearing of his committee to discuss exactly that topic.

February 1, 2011The Honorable Peter T. King
United States House of Representatives
339 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515Dear Congressman King:Congratulations on your chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee in the 112th Congress.As president of Judicial Watch, a conservative, nonpartisan educational foundation in the nation’s capital, whose mission is the promotion of transparency, integrity, and accountability in government, politics, and the law, I applaud your determination to undertake afresh an investigation of the increasing “radicalization” of American Muslims.Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, Judicial Watch undertook an investigation of Muslim charities and filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding non-profit entities in the United States that “reportedly” had been serving as money laundering front organizations for Islamic terrorists, particularly Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2004, several of the organizations listed by Judicial Watch were further investigated by the Senate Finance Committee.Most recently, we filed a complaint with the Office of the Mayor in the New York Supreme Court for its failure to produce documents responsive to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. A copy of our January 3, 2011, media release regarding our findings from recently produced documents is enclosed.Judicial Watch has hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country who faithfully support our mission—and who stand firmly against the tide of political correctness that undermines our national security. Your determination to investigate the increasing radicalization of American Muslims has our support, and we remain available to present testimony of our findings and to support your good efforts to hold Muslim leaders in America accountable.Sincerely,Thomas J. Fitton

Related Documents

As Mexican drug violence reaches epic proportions, Homeland Security officials prepare to reopen a remote port of entry—closed years ago for security reasons—as an unmanned border crossing monitored by federal agents hundreds of miles away.Known as the Boquillas crossing, the port of entry is located in southwest Texas’Big Bend National Park, an 800,000-acre oasis known for its diverse terrain of deserts, mountains and rivers. The Boquillas crossing, which links the U.S. to the Mexican town of Boquillas del Carmen across the Rio Grande River, was shut down after the 2001 terrorist attacks because it represented a national security threat.Amid escalating drug cartel crime in Mexico and reports of Middle Eastern terrorists slipping into the U.S. through the southern border, Homeland Security officials will reopen the crossing in 2012. It will be “monitored” by immigration officials hundreds of miles away and those entering the U.S. will submit documents electronically, according to a San Antonio newspaper report.The U.S. government will construct an information center and bathrooms to accommodate border crossers and the area will return to the pre 9/11 “bi-national community” where Americans regularly boated across the Rio Grande and Mexicans came into the U.S. for groceries. Area residents who expressed security concerns were reassured by the head of the Homeland Security agency handling the matter.“People who act criminally will act criminally regardless if there’s a lawful crossing here,” said Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency that guards the nation’s borders and safeguards the American homeland. Bersin flew to the area by helicopter to announce the reopening, which is scheduled for next spring.He does admit that Mexico has a “long way to go” in combating organized crime and corruption, but says the country has “acknowledged the problem” and taken “corrective action.” Besides, a legal rowboat crossing on a remote, shallow portion of the Rio Grande won’t affect illegal immigration or contraband, according to Bersin.Just last week, a Dallas newspaper reported that Mexican drug violence hit record levels in scale and brutality in 2010. More than 13,000 people were murdered acrossMexico in disturbing and cruel ways not commonly seen in previous years and the problem is especially critical along the U.S. border. A few months ago a veteran federal agent revealed that Middle Eastern terrorists regularly enter the country through the porous, 2,000-mile Mexican border.

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