Private meeting on terrorism with intelligence and law enforcement

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by yaxomoxay, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #1
    Hi guys, yesterday I was able to attend a private meeting for local law enforcement agents and some local politicians held by intelligence and law enforcement agents.
    Main speakers and coordinators were: FBI Supervisor for counterterrorism, Intelligence consultant (does stuff for many counterterrorism agencies in US and Europe), local police chief.
    Disclaimer: no big top secret stuff, and no... no Clinton emails! I will not mention what they said about countermeasures that law enforcement can implement for obvious reasons.
    However, these are the points that I found interesting:
    1) There is a new dynamic in terrorism, and that is self-radicalization. While previously terrorists had to get in touch with other terrorists, often plotting for months or years, there is a new thrend of people that radicalize themselves through the internet. They do everything that a terrorist would do in the radicalization phase, except contacting other people. They read the manuals, they see the videos, they dig on the internet. It often starts with some symphaty for a cause, and it quickly degenerates into something bigger. They are not lone wolves because ISIL (and other terrorist groups) recruits them indirectly; that's why ISIL is so well-documented. It will be increasingly difficult to classify terrorist attacks (see Orlando).
    2) Obtaining a Syrian passport is quite easy. The Intelligence guy displayed two Syrian passports with his face on it. He said that the cost is between $20 and $40, and they are both real passports, not fake printed in some basement. They are released by real Syrian authorities, which also create the identity (it's not that Syria has a computerized bureacuracy). The reason they are so cheap is that the government barely pays it's employees; most of them need food and basic housing, therefore they need those $20.
    3) FBI and European agencies are in daily contact. Today is incredibly easy to put another agency in state of alert, often a simple phone call is enough. The process is one of the swiftest they have at the FBI.
    4) ISIL terrorists are incredibly patient, for them it's a millenary war. They don't have to win or act today. Actually ISIL manual for the United States states that it's better to wait before taking any action, and the best strategy is to behave "like an American" for at least 90 days.
    5) Usually ISIL cells acts in group of 16, that's why after a terrorist attack more people get arrested and it's relatively easy to know who they are.
    6) with the mic off the intelligence guy told me that he doesn't believe that Merkel's strategy is the most intelligent from an anti-terrorism point of view. They estimate that about 10% of the refugees are in contact with terrorist organizations. That doesn't mean that they are future terrorirsts, it simply means that they are at increased risk of radicalization. He fears that the more attacks the more people will get radicalized.

    On the other hand, they made sure to highlight that as of today, for personal security, Pokemon Go and text messaging while driving are way more dangerous than terrorists. Again, for personal security as of today.
    For national security and for the future, of course terrorism is a true, serious, and increasing danger.

    PS: although I am very political in other threads, I would suggest to keep this one as far as possible from the HIllary/Trump routine.
     
  2. zin macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Interesting, especially the part about Syrian passports.

    The more cynical side of me could also make the argument that the people at the Syrian passport authority have been instructed to make it easier to hand out passports, thus perhaps enabling more people from that region to be eligible for relocation to Europe or the United States.

    People that are not necessarily friendly.
     
  3. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    He specifically denied that. He said that it's just a matter of money.
    Now, he made a comment that Assad probably loves this as he is moving his would be killing-fields to Europe (one less headache for him), but he is not coordinating a big plot against Europe at least from this perspective.
     
  4. zin macrumors 6502

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    Intruguing. If that's the case then it's odd that the view of the intelligence community doesn't match the political rhetoric against Assad.
     
  5. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #5
    I had the same feeling, there is a disconnect between politics and the intelligence community.
     
  6. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    Germany, you say?

    http://www.infowars.com/german-pres...-the-problem-the-populations-are-the-problem/
    What's your take on this article?

    http://www.infowars.com/german-pres...-the-problem-the-populations-are-the-problem/

    Sounds like hyperbole, but I don't live there nor do I know the culture so I have no right to say. But it's a fascinating enough claim for anyone to suggest.
     
  7. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #7


    A Syrian passport, on its own, is all but useless for international travel.

    Pretty much every country in the world requires a visa prior to entry to Syrian passport holders. (There are a few places, such as Guinea Bisseau, that issue them on arrival.)

    An individual wishing to travel to the United States, Britain, France, Germany, etc. on a Syrian passport would necessarily undergo extensive screening before being granted a visa to those countries. And a Syrian passport holder wishing to travel between, for instance, Germany and the US would still need to get a US visa to do so.

    A Syrian citizen would need to apply for a visa at a US embassy or consular office. As part of the visa application process, they would be photographed and fingerprinted, and other biometric signatures would be collected. Detailed information about one's residence, education, and employment is required. And there is a hefty fee (usually at least $200) just for applying. Data submitted and collected during the visa application process is then scanned against a range of worldwide governmental databases to check for inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

    This process is very important. People (adult humans, that is) don't just suddenly appear out of no-where. They generally attend schools, work at jobs, have bank accounts. They have relatives. All of which leave records, most of which are computerized. And many of which are accessible to consular and security agencies wishing to verify the identity of the person applying for a visa. In instances where it is not possible to electronically verify information supplied, consular officials will verify the information directly, either via phone or in-person interviews. The inability to verify information is usually grounds for the visa application to be denied.

    The immigration and security services of the worlds governments are not generally staffed by idiots. They are all well aware of the chaotic nature of present-day Syria; and the unreliable security of travel and identity documents issued by the Syrian government.
     
  8. Jess13, Jul 29, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016

    Jess13 Suspended

    Jess13

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    The Newburgh Sting




    Thomas V. Fuentes, Fmr. FBI Assistant Director: “If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that ‘We won the War on Terror and everything’s great!’ because the first thing that’s going to happen is your budget’s going to be cut in half. You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s ‘keep hope alive.’ This is ‘keep fear alive,’ keep it alive.”​


    The Future of FREEDOM


    15:56-17:44

    Grove: “So they’re spying on everybody; collecting metadata. They’re building profiles out of it. What is the reasoning behind pointing such an apparatus at the American public? And what type of money—combined budgets of these type of projects focused on the American people—what are we looking at?”

    Binney: “The reason that I came up with that they were doing that, is primarily: for money and building an empire. Now, the reason I say that is because, if you take the position of collecting only targeted information against groups doing bad things, then you have a finite problem. So you don’t have to have large storage facilities like Bluffdale, in Utah, or another 400,000 sq ft facility in San Antonio, Texas, or another one they just started building last summer on Ft. Meade (NSA HQ) in Maryland, 600,000 sq ft facility to store information. You wouldn’t need any of that. Plus, you wouldn’t need all the contracts for contractors and you wouldn’t need to have a larger workforce. You would be focused on a rich environment of information, which actually would mean you would succeed at preventing terrorism and preventing crime, international crime, and so on. But by taking in the bulk acquisition, that means you’re taking in everything in the world. That means you’re pulling in all kinds of—huge amounts of information, hundreds of terabytes per day, you know, going around the network. That becomes a main management problem of information to begin with: you have to build an infrastructure to transport it to storage facilities; you have to build the storage facilities; you have to have contracts for all this to happen and contracts to manage all the data once you’ve captured it; and then contracts to build other kinds of programs to manipulate the data and use it for analysts, and so on; and then hire more analysts to analyze data, because there’s orders of magnitude more data to look at. So it builds your budget so much bigger and so now you’re managing a much larger empire. So they did it in my sense for empire.”

    20:36-22:44

    Grove: [Asks question on Binney’s understanding of a Panopticon, relating to pervasive surveillance state. Binney doesn’t understand the question exactly so Grove then elaborates and describes it]

    Binney: “I mean, that’s the state we’re in. Fearmongering is the way our government’s been operating. Fearmongering first, for terrorism: to build up the budget. And now that they’ve been playing that card too many times, now they’re looking at cybersecurity as the next fear. And then they’ll find something else later on. And they never really want to solve the problem, that’s been the basic issue with it [fearmongering]. Because once you solve the problem, you don’t have the problem to have justification to get more money. So my version of their vision statement came out like this, that for them: ‘Keep the problem going so the money keeps flowing.’ I mean, otherwise, if you solve the problem, you don’t have that problem to justify more money and more of an empire, and to sustain your empire. So that’s really what they’re operating on [money; greed; power]. Originally I thought it was ‘Aim low and miss,’ was their vision statement. Because everything they ever did, they failed at. I didn’t quite understand it until the latter part of my career, that they were really not solving the problem because they didn’t want to [solve it]. It was a matter of keeping it going so they could get the next contract, or get the next set of budget from the Congress, and so on. Keep it going (keep fear alive).
     
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    Interesting post @yaxomoxay.

    You have raised a number of matters well worth giving deeper thought to, but personally, I think it goes a lot further than this.

    Quite apart from the context, - which must be acknowledged, for, this does not happen in a vacuum - a context both foreign (start wars and wreck the infrastructure and economy and culture of a country, and people will flee) and domestic - and, here, I would argue that political choices and economic consequences (such as globalisation) have led to a huge alienation in parts of the western world, and not just among some members of the immigrant communities - but also among some of the members of the old working classes, who have come to feel excluded from the benefits of cultural and economic and political change - yes, there are challenges, some of them presenting in new forms.

    While states are organised on the basis of hierarchies and elites, terrorism is often organised on the basis of networks.

    These days, enabled by social media, some terrorist groups have developed, or evolved, into very rapidly replicating networks.

    Moreover, these days, while there are new features to this, such as the self-radicalisation which you have already mentioned, it is worth noting that this is something that can be further enabled by access to social media networks.

    Grooming can take many forms, and does not need to have a sexual dimension.

    Actually, quiet well-behaved kids, idealistic kids, reserved kids, studious kids, the kind of kids who will not ever rebel (to their parents' joy) by seeking out a decadent western lifestyle, may chose to rebel against their parents' values in other ways, such as by becoming more devout.

    And there are a couple of other things to consider, too.

    Firstly, there is the speed with which radicalisation can take place. This is new - historically, radicalisation used to take a lot of time was individuals inched their way to ever more radical positions.

    And secondly, it is not just with political elites - but the intelligence agencies need to be in much closer contact with police forces, because organised terrorism - which used to be ascetic in its political complexion, disdaining an d despising criminality (politics was purer, and they were motivated by ideals, not greed) - has now, in some instances, fused with criminal networks which are used to fund their wars, making the question of where ideals, however perverted, start and end, and where pure criminality - narcotics is the obvious one - also begins and ends.
     
  10. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #10
    No visa needed for European Refugee program.

    As I mentioned, a few more bucks will buy you a full new identity. It's just not the document (which is bad in itself)

    $40 dollars and you have the passport, an address, education, and employment history. BTW the cost budgeted by ISIL for a terrorist ranges between $20,000 to $75,000 of direct expenses.

    Apparently the information is verifiable. It's just the wrong one.

    Oh absolutely. But the few that fall between the cracks are the problem... not everyone of course!
     
  11. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    But thats still not going to get you a visa to come to the United States. A fake identity document might get you into a Dusseldorf nightclub. It might, possibly, get by a cursory roadside check from a French or Italian cop. But its not going to get by the visa checking process to come to the US.

    The biometric requirements for travel documents that will get an individual into most countries are pretty much undefeatable.

    So much so that the intelligence services of Britain, the US, and Israel are deeply concerned that they will no longer be able to have their officers travel internationally under assumed names without being "made" (or identified) by hostile security services.

    If the CIA; Mossad; and SIS - using the immense resources of their own Governments (including, presumably, Passport offices) - cannot create watertight "legends" for its covert operations officers, I doubt sincerely that the psychopaths and criminals at ISIL will be able to do so for $40. Or $40,000.
     
  12. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    #12
    Some will, some (not many) won't. Sorry if I believe the intelligence guys more than I believe you. US is also way more secure than the EU as of today thanks to harsher rules.

    It's not a fake identity. It becomes a real, government approved, identity. That's the problem.

    The biometric requirements, which I had to satisfy in all their pain, multiple times in the multiple steps from my work visa to my citizenship, won't stop a person with a real (yet manufactured) identity. Do you honestly think that they get your fingerprints and send them to the Syrian embassy to check the background history? And if that's even the case, being the identity real according to the Syrian government, there is no way to say that the person is not what he/she claims to be.
     
  13. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030

    Ulenspiegel

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    #13
    @yaxomoxay
    You are absolutely right.
    The passport is not a fake. It is simply a "cover paper". There is no organization that is capable of singling out a "virgin identity" of a traveller or for that a matter an asylum-seeker. There was an interesting phenomenon on the Serbian-Hungarian border during the first migration flood. The migrants refused to register (fingeprints etc.), most of them denied having any papers (though they had). The reasons behind it are crystal clear.
     
  14. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #14
    goes against Hillary's agenda of removing Assad.
     
  15. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    I think you need to ask why there haven't been incidents of foreign-born ISIL-associated individuals coming to the United States to commit acts of terrorism.

    The answer is because its quite difficult to do. Maybe not impossible. But there are realistically high enough barriers that make it extremely unlikely to happen with any sort of regularity.

    Lets start with the obvious: Its difficult to recruit people to go and commit murder. Its harder still to get people to commit both murder and suicide on the same day. The sort of people who would be willing to do that, tend to have mental and personality problems, that are going to make training them; and maintaining a sufficient level of operational security very difficult. Smart, motivated, dedicated people don't want to die meaninglessly.

    The next issue is this: Such a foreign-sourced individual is going have extremely limited resources once inside the United States. They aren't going to have safe houses and vehicles. They are presumably going to need to acquire weapons. No legitimate firearms retailer is going to sell a weapon to an Arabic-looking guy with nothing more than a foreign passport. Which means buying weapons illegally. Again - not impossible. But difficult to do if you are a stranger in a foreign city with no knowledge of the criminal community. And risky too. Even drug dealers and pimps would have no qualms about ratting out a terrorist.

    Every step along the way; every border crossing; every plane journey. Every time someone checks into a hotel; rents a car; or simply drives down the street poses a risk that the terrorist will be stopped, identified, and arrested. And eventually sentenced to life in an American prison. No death in a blaze of jihadist glory. Just a humiliating fifty or sixty years in an orange jumpsuit; eating "prison loaf" and staring at the painted cinderblocks.

    We are right to be concerned about terrorism. Whether domestic, self-radicalized jihadist, or foreign-born import. But we also need to be realistic; and say that as things currently stand, the physical risk we Americans face from foreign-born ISIL fighters is pretty minuscule. Not zero. But not something to worry about all the time.
     

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