NEWS of the Week
on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
April 28, 2013
As anniversary of bin Laden's death nears, threat of homegrown terrorism occupies law enforcement
Al-Qaida's reach includes inspiring homegrown terrorists to act on its behalf
With the second anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death approaching on Thursday and in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, local law enforcement agencies are especially vigilant and poised to ramp up security to deter any potential terrorist attacks.
The anniversary also comes as two men were arrested and charged last week with allegedly plotting an attack against a Canadian passenger train with support from al-Qaida elements in Iran.
But for Capt. John Stedman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Emergency Operations Bureau, it's the possibility of homegrown terrorism perpetrated by one or two individuals that he says is the scariest and most challenging threat to tackle.
"It's not cell driven or state sponsored; it's just local people who have an axe to grind that are going to take it out on the public," Stedman said, noting that the recent Boston Marathon attacks appear to him to be a case of homegrown terrorism. "Those are the biggest threats because they're the hardest ones to find ... and the ones we try to pay attention to. We have deputies on the ground working in the community. Hopefully, they would hear about that."
Experts say al-Qaida continues to be the most salient terrorist threat and one that has gotten more complex and harder to detect over the years.
City of Thorns: Despite reforms, Pasadena police still face controversy
PASADENA -- Two decades ago, a trio of Pasadena gang members stunned the City of Roses by gunning down six boys trick-or-treating, killing three and injuring three others on a night now known as the Halloween Massacre.
Now, after a 20-year police crackdown against gangs in one of Southern California's most regal cities, the tide has turned, with crime at modern historic lows.
But instead of celebrating a hard-won victory, Pasadena police are themselves accused of kidnapping, beating and threatening to kill witnesses, withholding evidence in trials, attempting to bribe attorneys, wrongly shooting unarmed residents and a litany of civil rights abuses in their war against gangs and thugs.
"It's gotten out of hand," said Joe Brown, former head of the city's NAACP branch, who has been tracking cases within the black community. "The problem is a lack of appropriate training and community policing.
"Some officers have used some of the most egregious tactics in police investigative work."
Miss. man charged in suspicious letters case
BRANDON, Miss.—An ex-martial arts instructor made ricin and put the poison in letters to President Barack Obama and others, the FBI charged Saturday, days after dropping similar charges against an Elvis impersonator who insisted he had been framed.
The arrest of 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke early Saturday capped a week in which investigators initially zeroed in on a rival of Dutschke's, then decided they had the wrong man. The hunt for a suspect revealed tie after small-town tie between the two men and the 80-year-old county judge who, along with Obama and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, was among the targets of the letters.
Dutschke's house, business and vehicles in Tupelo were searched earlier in the week often by crews in hazardous materials suits and he had been under surveillance.
Dutschke (pronounced DUHS'-kee) was charged with "knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon, to wit: ricin." U.S. attorney Felicia Adams and Daniel McMullen, the FBI agent in charge in Mississippi, made the announcement in a news release Saturday.
April 27, 2013
NYPD: Part of 9/11 plane's landing gear discovered
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A rusted 5-foot-tall piece of landing gear believed to be from one of the hijacked planes destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks has been discovered wedged between a mosque site and a luxury high-rise apartment building near the World Trade Center.
The twisted metal part has cables and levers on it and is about 3 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep. It includes a clearly visible Boeing Co. identification number, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said Friday.
"The odds of this being wedged between there is amazing," Browne said, adding it was not surprising that it went undiscovered for more than a decade given the location. "It had to have fallen just the right way to make it into that space."
Browne said other World Trade Center wreckage had been discovered nearby, possibly even at the same buildings, in years past.
Justice Department Returned $1.5 Billion to Victims of Crime since January 2012
As the United States concludes its recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman announced that the Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture Program has returned more than $1.5 billion in forfeited assets to more than 400,000 crime victims since January 2012. The funds were distributed through the forfeited assets distribution program managed by the Criminal Division's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS).
“Returning forfeited funds to crime victims is an essential ingredient in achieving justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Fulfilling this important mission, the department has distributed over $1.5 billion over the past 16 months to victims of fraud and others. I commend the prosecutors in the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorneys' Offices around the country, as well as the many federal, state and local law enforcement agents, who have worked so hard to reach this milestone.”
AFMLS, in close coordination with the U.S. Attorneys' offices and federal law enforcement agencies, reviews and rules on petitions for remission submitted by crime victims. During the past decade, AFMLS has partnered with federal regulatory agencies, court-appointed receivers, private claim administrators, and private class action cases to successfully return more than $3 billion in forfeited assets to crime victims.
April 26, 2013
Boston suspects planned bombs in New York, Mayor Bloomberg says
The two men accused of carrying out last week's bombing of the Boston Marathon planned a second bomb attack on New York's Times Square, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday.
The brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's original intent when they hijacked a car and its driver in Boston last Thursday night was to drive to New York with bombs and detonate them in Times Square, but their plan fell apart when they became embroiled in a shootout with police.
"Last night we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets," Bloomberg said at New York City Hall. "He and his older brother intended to drive to New York and detonate those explosives in Times Square."
One law enforcement source said earlier this was based on what surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told investigators in a Boston hospital. He is recovering from gunshot wounds in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was formally charged on Monday with crimes that could carry the death penalty.
Officials: Boston Marathon bombing suspect silent after read rights
BOSTON -- Sixteen hours after investigators began interrogating him, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings went silent: He'd just been read his constitutional rights.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev immediately stopped talking after a magistrate judge and a representative from the U.S. Attorney's office entered his hospital room and gave him his Miranda warning, according to a U.S. law enforcement source and four officials of both political parties briefed on the interrogation. They insisted on anonymity because the briefing was private.
Before being advised of his rights, the 19-year-old suspect told authorities that his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, only recently had recruited him to be part of the attack that detonated pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon finish line, two U.S. officials said.
The CIA, however, had named Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months ago, said officials close to the investigation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case with reporters.
San Jose police announce new mission statement in troubled times
SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Police Department lacks a permanent chief. It's fielding an overstretched force. Morale continues to roil amid a bitter fight over reduced pension benefits.
But the police brass sought to give the department stability and direction Thursday by announcing a renewed mission statement with a goal of innovating city policing in an environment of "challenges and uncertainty."
The new "Department Direction" was launched in part to allay community and rank-and-file concerns that police have been operating in a holding pattern until the city finds a new top cop, a process that stalled and has since been reset after a fruitless initial search.
"We've been kind of floating for a while. This gives us a specific direction that is reasonable and attainable. It's invigorated a lot of people," acting police Chief Larry Esquivel said. "It lets the public know, this is what we're doing. They know we're not just sitting idle."
April 25, 2013
Ricin suspect released, all charges dropped; lawyers say he was framed
TUPELO, Miss. -- Charges were dropped Tuesday against the Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others, while authorities searched at another man's home in connection with the case.
The surprising move was announced in a brief document filed in federal court in Oxford hours after Paul Kevin Curtis was released from custody. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means they could be re-instated if prosecutors so choose.
Attorneys for Curtis have suggested he was framed, and an FBI agent testified in court this week that no evidence of ricin was found in searches of his home. At a news conference Tuesday, they declined to discuss whether they were told what new information the government had uncovered.
Prosecutors couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In Tupelo, numerous law enforcement officers converged on the home of another Mississippi man, including some in hazmat suits.
LAPD hosting Van Nuys gun buyback May 4
The city of Los Angeles will host four anonymous gun buybacks, including one in Van Nuys, on May 4.
People who drop off guns anonymously will get Ralphs gift cards for up to $100 for handguns, rifles and shotguns and up to $200 for what the state classifies as "assault weapons."
The city said the buybacks have taken in nearly 10,000 guns since 2009. Critics have questioned whether they make the city safer, as many of the guns turned in are old or unwanted, not those likely to be used in crimes.
The buybacks are usually in May around Mother's Day, but the city held two simultaneous ones Dec. 26 in response to the Connecticut school shooting. More than 1,500 guns were collected that day.
All four will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and police say people should bring guns unloaded and in the trunks of their cars. Officers will secure them and hand out gift cards without people even having to get out of their cars.
Drivers not safer with voice-activated texting, study finds
It had appeared that technology might have solved a problem of its own creation when voice-activated texting came along so that drivers could keep their eyes on the road. Not so, says the first major study of the subject.
It's every bit as dangerous to speak into a mobile device that translates words into a text message as it is to type one.
"It didn't really matter which texting method you were using, your reaction times were twice as slow and your eyes were on the road much less often," said Christine Yager, who did the research for the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.
With Americans swapping 6.1 billion text messages every day, several mobile-application developers came up with voice-to-text software. Yager tested two developed for the popular iPhone and Android devices as drivers performed tests on a closed course.
"We were using a tracker, measuring how often they looked at the roadway and how long it took the driver to complete each text-messaging task that we asked them to do, and we also were looking at how long it took them to respond to that light that turned on periodically," she said.
April 24, 2013
Suspect in Boston Marathon Attack Charged with Using a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, a U.S. citizen and resident of Cambridge, Mass., has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, resulting in the death of three people and injuries to more than 200 people.
In a criminal complaint unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Tsarnaev is specifically charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death. The statutory charges authorize a penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years. Tsarnaev had his initial court appearance today from his hospital room.
“Although our investigation is ongoing, today's charges bring a successful end to a tragic week for the city of Boston, and for our country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with each of the bombing victims and brave law enforcement professionals who lost their lives or suffered serious injuries as a result of this week's senseless violence. Thanks to the valor of state and local police, the dedication of federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, and the vigilance of members of the public, we've once again shown that those who target innocent Americans and attempt to terrorize our cities will not escape from justice. We will hold those who are responsible for these heinous acts accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The events of the past week underscore in stark terms the need for continued vigilance against terrorist threats both at home and abroad,” said John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Friday's arrest and today's charges demonstrate what can be achieved by a collaborative, round-the clock response involving law enforcement officers, intelligence professionals, prosecutors and the general public.”
Bombing suspect's uncle: Friend in Cambridge 'brainwashed him completely'
The evolution of Tamerlan Tsarnaev from aspiring Olympic boxer to apparent self-radicalized jihadist may have been influenced by a friend in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"It started (in) 2009. And it started right there, in Cambridge," Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni said from his home in Maryland.
"This person just took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely."
Tsarni would not identify his nephew's friend. But he was so concerned about the acquaintance that he called a family friend in the Cambridge area to investigate.
"I said, 'Listen, do you know what is going on with that family? With my brother's family?' Then he says ... there is a person, some new convert into Islam of Armenian descent," Tsarni told CNN's Shannon Travis. "Armenians, I have no intention to say anything about Armenians. It's a neighboring region with North Caucasus," the same area where the Tsarnaev family also hails from.
Tsarnaev's mindset leading up to the bombings at the Boston Marathon may never be fully known. He was killed after a shootout with police last week.
Terrorists and Americans
It's critical to our national identity to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as the U.S. citizen he is
The only thing remarkable about the backstory of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is how common it is. Its culmination, a pointless and horrific act of violence, is fortunately one that rarely happens. This is partially because of the hard work of local and federal law enforcement and partially because most people, even if they are unsuccessful, frustrated, alienated, extreme or radicalized, do not commit violence.
We must not forget this basic fact: Assuming police are correct and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is responsible for these crimes, he is not an enemy combatant from distant lands; he is an American who committed acts of terror against his fellow citizens. If he is somehow connected to Al Qaeda, then he is a traitor, but he is still an American and should be treated like one.
When I was a member of the New York Police Department Intelligence Division, there were numerous instances where the individuals we investigated were, on the surface, not dissimilar from Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. For whatever reason, these individuals would come across our radar. Maybe a neighbor would call about some odd behavior, or perhaps someone was Facebook friends with the subject of another investigation. Or perhaps our interest would stem from a combination of factors, such as foreign travel and a criminal history.
In no instance could we overlook these leads, but in many cases we would ultimately conclude that although there were concerning indicators, there was not enough information to push forward with a full investigation.
Beware of Online Fundraising Scams and Hackers Trying to Exploit the Tragedy in Boston
The outpouring of support and generosity of the American public in the aftermath of last Monday's explosions in Boston speaks to both our compassion and resilience as a country. But unfortunately, as we've seen previously, high profile news stories and tragedies can also lead to a variety of Internet scams and online risks.
Newly created websites and twitter accounts may try to take advantage of those looking to contribute to fundraising efforts. Others could target individuals interested in simply learning more details about the incident. For example, emails that appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate news or charitable organization may in fact be phishing attempts.
If you suspect you have received a phishing email, please send it to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information on protecting yourself and your information online, visit www.dhs.gov/StopThinkConnect .
April 23, 2013
Via train terror plot suspects to appear in court
RCMP allege link to al-Qaeda in Toronto-area derailment scheme
Two men accused of trying to carry out an al-Qaeda supported plot to derail a Via passenger train in the Toronto area are set to appear in a Toronto courtroom this morning for a bail hearing, as details begin to emerge about their background.
Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."
Neither man is a Canadian citizen, but they were in the country legally. RCMP did not say where either men was from or how they came to live in Canada, but The Canadian Press said Esseghaier is believed to be Tunisian and Jaser is from the United Arab Emirates.
Jennifer Strachan, chief superintendent of RCMP criminal operations in the province of Ontario, said Monday the two suspects watched trains and railways in the Greater Toronto Area.
Reports: Bombing suspects carrying out jihad; one eyed in triple slaying
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon twin bombings, is actively cooperating with investigators, according to various reports, and telling them his older brother, Tamerlan, organized the attack to defend Islam.
In another development, the Boston Globe is reporting that Tamerlan, who was killed during a shootout with law enforcement during the manhunt, is being eyed in a triple slaying in 2011.
CNN and AP report that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was shot multiple times, and suffered a throat injury, wrote to investigators that he and the elder Tamerlan were self-radicalized and carrying out a jihad against perceived enemies of Islam. Presumably, that would be America.
However, the interviews are preliminary, sources told CNN, and all accounts need to be checked by investigators.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's answers led authorities to believe he and his brother might have been motivated by a radical brand of Islam, but had no major terror connections, said U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, reported the Associated Press.
Father of Boston bombing suspects 'to fly to U.S. tomorrow' and says he will seek 'justice and the truth' for sons
The father of the two Boston bombing suspects will apparently travel to the U.S. tomorrow in order to seek 'justice and the truth'.
Anzor Tsarnaev says he has 'lots of questions for the police' and is keen 'to clear up many things' when he arrives from his home in Makhachkala in Russia. He had previously said that he would return to America this week in the wake of the death of his elder son Tamerlan and the arrest of 19-year-old Dzhokhar.
The suspects' mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, yesterday said that her husband would fly to the U.S. on Wednesday, adding that the family hoped to bring Tamerlan's body back to Russia. Both parents have strenuously denied their sons' guilt for the bombing which killed three people and injured more than 170 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last Sunday.
They have accused the U.S. authorities of framing Tamerlan and Dzhokhar - Mr Tsarnaev described the death of his son as an 'inside job, while Mrs Tsarnaeva claimed that the government 'wanted to eliminate' Tamerlan, 26.
TSA postpones allowing small knives back on planes
TSA Administrator John Pistole had planned to allow knives back on board later this week.
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration is postponing letting passengers carry small knives back aboard airline flights.
After facing strong opposition to the policy change from flight attendants and its own air marshals, the agency said Monday it was delaying the policy change so that the airline industry, passenger advocates and law-enforcement experts could weigh in on what should be allowed on planes.
"This timing will enable TSA to incorporate the feedback about the changes to the Prohibited Items List and continue workforce training," the TSA said in a statement.
The TSA had planned to let the knives, with blades up to 2.36 inches, on flights starting Thursday. It would have been the first time they would have been back on passenger planes since Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists armed with box cutters hijacked four jetliners.
April 22, 2013
Community role shines through terrorist manhunt
“We got him! Thank God, we got him!”
With those words late Friday night, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino captured the spirit of just about everyone in Greater Boston, and really across the nation, upon the capture of accused Boston Marathon bombing terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown.
And after the intense, exhaustive manhunt that brought a virtual lockdown of Boston and its immediate — and sent ripple effects up the silent commuter rail lines to Gloucester and Cape Ann — all of the police officers, SWAT teams and National Guard personnel, including police personnel deployed from Gloucester and Cape Ann's towns as part of two different regional response teams finally had reason to cheer and be cheered.
But Menino's “We got him” line, trumpeted acoss the top of the Times' Saturday morning front page, speaks to a much broader “we” than to the thousands of law enforcement personnel who spent days combing the chilling Marathon bombing scene, then — after a surreal chase and firefight in a crowded Watertown neighborhood — going door-to-door in their search for the suspect.
Police: Bombing suspects planned more attacks
BOSTON — As churches paused to mourn the dead and console the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing Sunday, the city's police commissioner said the two suspects had such a large cache of weapons that they were probably planning other attacks.
After the two brothers engaged in a gun battle with police early Friday, authorities surveying the scene of the shootout found it was loaded with unexploded homemade bombs. They also found more than 250 rounds of ammunition.
Police Commissioner Ed Davis said the stockpile was "as dangerous as it gets in urban policing."
"We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene — the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had — that they were going to attack other individuals. That's my belief at this point." Davis told CBS's "Face the Nation."
Prosecutors face tough call on death penalty in Boston case
Reuters) - Federal prosecutors may seek the death penalty for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, legal experts said on Sunday, though they cautioned that much will hinge on what emerges in the weeks ahead about him and his role in the attacks.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in custody and in serious condition at a Boston hospital. Authorities are preparing to file charges against him in a case that has riveted national attention and that presents legal and political challenges.
Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, are suspected of setting off bombs at the crowded finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring 176. Tamerlan died early Friday after a shootout with police.
On television talk shows on Sunday, two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York, advocated for federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
The decision on whether to do that or not could take weeks, experts said, as both prosecutors and defense attorneys present factors in favor of and against it.