Fact Sheet on Security Enhancements
Statement By John Brennan on Holiday Security
As Prepared for Delivery
As we enter the peak of another holiday season, the homeland security, law enforcement, and intelligence communities are collectively focused on doing everything they can to prevent terrorists from disrupting the safety and security of Americans as they travel, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy holiday festivities both at home and abroad.
We remain vigilant to attempts by al-Qa’ida and other terrorist organizations to carry out cowardly attacks against innocent men, women, and children, and we are working very closely with other governments to share all threat information immediately and to coordinate closely our counterterrorism and security activities. These international partnerships are critically important to our ability to identify would-be terrorists and to thwart their plans before they are able to act.
In response to President Obama’s direction, senior officials from departments and agencies met yesterday at the White House to review the latest threat reporting and to coordinate security and counterterrorism plans that will be in place during the holiday season.
Protecting the American people from the scourge of terrorism is an ongoing and constantly evolving process. It is the goal of the counterterrorism community to stay several steps ahead of our terrorist adversaries so that we can stop terrorists dead in their tracks before they are able to carry out either small scale or potentially devastating attacks. That is what the President has directed, that is what the American people rightly expect and deserve, and that is what we are bound and determined to do.
Finally, President Obama has been provided an update on the many steps that have been taken over the past year to enhance our counterterrorism capabilities as a result of the after-action reviews on several terrorism and security-related incidents, including the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Texas; the attempted bombings of passenger and cargo aircraft as well as of Times Square in New York City; and a variety of arrests and disruptions of terrorist plots in the homeland.
Post-Fort Hood Security Enhancements
Strengthened Cooperation Between DOD and FBI
The Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have standardized, streamlined and strengthened the processes and written procedures governing the investigation of individuals serving in or associated with the military who may pose a security threat, including the sharing of information between the two organizations about such threats. This will streamline information sharing and coordination between the FBI and all components of DOD, and will ensure that all counterterrorism investigators from both departments have all available information to further their investigations.
Thorough Analysis of CT Information
The FBI established a process that ensures a more thorough analysis of certain information available to the counterterrorism (CT) community about potential terrorist-related threats, particularly those that affect multiple equities inside and outside the FBI. The FBI has moved to ensure that it has allocated the necessary resources to accomplish that goal.
Improved Information Technology
The Government deployed specific, targeted technological enhancements to facilitate the automation of data correlation of counterterrorism-related information.
The FBI developed enhanced training programs for all counterterrorism personnel, including for detailees assigned from other departments to its Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs). The FBI has ensured that all personnel assigned to its JTTFs have received this enhanced training.
Post-December 25 Security Enhancements
Clarified Analytic Responsibility
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) issued new guidance to clarify the counterterrorism responsibilities of each IC analytic component. This clarification will ensure that each member of the CT community has a clearly defined mission, ensuring an appropriate level of redundancy and accountability for threat warning and response but without creating gaps in coverage.
Established Pursuit Groups
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) established analytic “Pursuit Groups” to identify, pursue and track information and connect disparate pieces of intelligence that could lead to discovery of threats aimed against the U.S. Homeland or our interests abroad. These programs are aimed at ensuring that the full range of analytic tools and expertise are brought to bear on tracking and uncovering any such threats, including internal coordination to ensure suspected terrorists and their identities are expeditiously processed for inclusion on the watchlist.
Improving Information Technology
Consistent with the need to protect information from unauthorized disclosure, we continue to develop and deploy enhanced information technology tools that assist analysts in correlating disparate pieces of data, helping them to be both more efficient and more effective at identifying and connecting relevant terrorist threat information. The intelligence community is coordinating an IC-wide infrastructure that aggregates and analyzes data across agencies and networks, including the development of software that allows CT personnel to conduct “Google-like” searches across databases they are authorized to access. These technological enhancements, the implementation of which are time and resource intensive, are in various stages of development – some have been deployed, while others are in the pilot stages.
Enhancing Analytic Tradecraft
ODNI has developed new analytic training courses to enhance the rigor and raise the standard of tradecraft of intelligence analysis, with particular emphasis on uncovering and preventing terrorist plots. We are now in the process of deploying these pilot courses to train our CT analysts.
Watchlist Process Improvements and Enhanced Targeting
The Administration has revised and modified the criteria used to create terrorist watchlists, including enhancements to the process by which names are added to the No-Fly and Selectee Lists. Further, the Administration expanded the use of Terrorist Screening Database records to ensure the safety of the traveling public. In addition, TSA fulfilled a key 9/11 Commission recommendation by implementing the Secure Flight program, which matches passengers against terrorist watchlists for all flights within or bound for the U.S.. NCTC has also established an enhancement group and expanded its research of and access to relevant databases to enhance records of known or suspected terrorists.
Deploying Advanced Imaging Technology
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accelerated deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology, and has now deployed nearly 500 machines at over 75 domestic airports.
Real Time Watchlist Information
DHS and FBI launched the Watchlist Service, a new technical mechanism to transmit data from the Terrorist Screening Database, operated by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, to DHS in real time. In addition to bolstering security, this system also achieves efficiencies by creating a centralized service for transmitting information to DHS instead of maintaining separate connections to multiple organizations within DHS.
Advances in Cargo Screening
In 2010, as required by the 9/11 Act, 100 percent of all cargo transported on passenger aircraft that depart U.S. airports is being screened commensurate with screening of passenger checked baggage. TSA’s Certified Cargo Screening Program strengthens security by certifying more than 1,000 entities responsible for conducting cargo screening throughout the supply chain, minimizing the impact on the movement of commerce. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in coordination with the World Customs Organization, launched Operation Global Shield in 2010, an unprecedented multilateral law enforcement effort aimed at combating the illicit cross-border diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals for making improvised explosive devices by monitoring their cross-border movements.
Following the thwarted terrorist plot to conceal and ship explosive devices on cargo aircraft bound for the United States in October 2010, DHS took a number of additional steps to further strengthen supply chain security. These steps included adapting inbound cargo targeting rules to reflect the latest intelligence and ordering a ground halt on all cargo coming from Yemen and Somalia; prohibiting high risk cargo on passenger aircraft; prohibiting toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces on passenger aircraft – in both carry-on bags and checked bags – on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States, as well as on certain inbound international air cargo shipments; and implementing additional and enhanced screening of all cargo identified as high risk.
DHS is also working closely with industry and international partners to expedite the receipt of advanced cargo data for international flights to the United States prior to departure in order to identify and screen items based on risk and current intelligence before they are airborne. In December 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the air cargo industry launched a new joint technology pilot project to enhance the sharing of electronic shipping information to improve the identification of high-risk shipments.
Accelerated and expanded deployment of new technologies
Through the Recovery Act, TSA accelerated the deployment of a series of new technologies to airports around the country designed to detect the next generation of threats, including Advanced Imaging Technology units, Explosive Detection Systems, Explosives Trace Detection units, Advanced Technology X-Ray systems, and Bottled Liquid Scanners.
Strengthening International Aviation Security
DHS coordinated an unprecedented international commitment to enhance global aviation security. Through its participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), DHS secured: (1) a joint declaration committing member states to improving aviation security; (2) a new aviation security strategy framework that emphasizes the use of advanced screening technology and use of evolving security measures to defeat an adapting threat; and (3) a commitment to enhance global security standards, including the screening of cargo and airport workers.
2010 Information Sharing Counterterrorism Highlights
Information sharing across the federal government has increased significantly and productively since 9/11 and continues to improve every day. The Intelligence Community (IC) is cooperating with homeland security, law enforcement, and other key partners around the globe to fuse domestic and foreign intelligence in an effort to identify and disrupt homeland threats posed by alleged extremists. Below are several examples of terrorism prosecutions and / or thwarted plots that reflect such information sharing.
February 22: Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to several federal terrorism violations in connection with his role in an al-Q’aida plot to bomb the New York subway system in September 2009. Two of his associates, Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, both U.S. citizens, were indicted on February 25 for their respective roles in the plot. Ahmedzay later pleaded guilty. A subsequent indictment in July charged Adnan El-Shukrijumah and other senior members of al-Q’aida for their alleged roles in recruiting Zazi, Medunjanin and Ahmedzay to carry out the attacks on the New York subway.
March 18: David Coleman Headley, a U.S. citizen and Chicago, Ill resident, pleaded guilty to a dozen federal terrorism violations, admitting to helping plan the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, that killed more than 160 people, as well as later plotting to attack a Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Headley admitted he attended Lashkar-e-Tayyiba training camps in Pakistan on five occasions and traveled to India five times to surveil targets on behalf of Lashkar. He also admitted that he conspired with accused terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri and others in plotting an attack on the Danish newspaper.
March 26: Raja Lahrasib Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Chicago, Ill., resident, was arrested on federal charges for allegedly attempting to provide funds overseas to al-Qa’ida. Khan was charged with two counts of providing material support to terrorism.
April 2: A superseding indictment was unsealed charging Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” and Jamie Paulin Ramirez, both U.S. citizens, with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists in connection with their alleged travels to Europe to participate in violent jihad. LaRose was further charged with conspiring to murder an individual in Sweden and working with others to recruit individuals via the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe.
April 30: An indictment of Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, both U.S. citizens, was unsealed in federal court. The two were charged with conspiring to provide material support, including computer advice and assistance, to al-Qa’ida in Yemen.
May 4: Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and other federal crimes for attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, N.Y. on the evening of May 1, 2010. Shahzad pleaded guilty to all ten counts of the indictment on June 21, 2010, admitting that he received explosives training from the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan and received funds for the operation from a co-conspirator in Pakistan. In October, he was sentenced to life in prison.
May 19: Khalid Ouazzani pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qa’ida. Ouazzani swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qa’ida in 2008, personally provided more than $23,000 to al-Qa’ida and performed other tasks on behalf of the terrorist organization.
June 3: Barry Walter Bujol Jr., a U.S. citizen and Texas resident, was arrested and indicted on charges of attempting to provide material support to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a result of his alleged efforts to travel to Yemen to join AQAP as a foreign fighter and to provide AQAP with currency, GPS devices, and U.S. military publications.
June 5: Mohamed Hamoud Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, both U.S. citizens, were arrested on charges of conspiring to kill, maim and kidnap persons abroad. The defendants allegedly conspired to go to Somalia, where they intended to join al-Shabaab and wage violent jihad
June 9: Syed Hashmi, charged with providing material support to al-Qa’ida and providing military gear to others who transported the gear to al-Q’aida associates in Pakistan, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in April.
August 5: Four separate indictments were unsealed in Minnesota, Alabama and California charging 14 individuals with terrorism violations for providing money, personnel and services to al-Shabaab. Among those charged were Omar Hammami, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Alabama, and Jehad Mostafa, a U.S. citizen and former resident of San Diego, both of whom have allegedly joined al-Shabaab and risen to prominence in the organization.
September 1: A criminal complaint was unsealed charging Hakimullah Mehsud, the self-proclaimed emir of the Pakistani Taliban for his alleged involvement in the murder of seven American citizens on Dec. 30, 2009 at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. The complaint charged Mehsud with conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens abroad and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. citizens abroad.
September 19: Sami Samir Hassoun was arrested by FBI agents after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosive device outside a nightclub in Chicago.
September 23: Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced in New York to 86 years in prison for attempted murder and assault on FBI agents and military officers in Afghanistan. In 2008, Siddiqui was detained in Afghanistan by local authorities who found documents in her possession that referred to “a mass casualty attack,” and “dirty bomb” and that listed various U.S. landmarks.
October 18: James Cromitie, David Williams, Onita Williams, and Laguerre Payen were convicted in New York of several terrorism violations stemming from their efforts to detonate explosives near a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx, N.Y. and also plotting to shoot down military planes at the New York Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., with surface-to-air missiles.
October 19: Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a Jordanian national, who was arrested in September 2009 for attempting to detonate an explosive-laden vehicle at Fountain Place in downtown Dallas, Texas, was sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction
October 20: Zachary Adam Chesser, a U.S. citizen and Virginia resident, pleaded guilty to charges of communicating threats against the writers of the “South Park” television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement and attempting to provide material support to al-Shabaab. Chesser, who allegedly communicated with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, attempted to travel twice to serve as a foreign fighter for al-Shabaab and repeatedly encouraged violent jihadists to kill U.S. citizens.
October 27: Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was arrested on charges of assisting others whom he believed to be members of al-Qa’ida in planning multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C. area.
October 29: Two packages, each containing a bomb, were discovered on separate cargo planes as a result of intelligence received from Saudi Arabia. The packages, bound from Yemen to Chicago, Ill, were discovered en route during stopovers in England and Dubai. AQAP claimed responsibility for the plot.
November 26: Mohamed Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was arrested on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in connection with a plot to detonate what he believed to be a vehicle bomb at the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Ore.
December 8: Antonio Martinez (aka Muhammad Hussain), a U.S. citizen, was arrested on charges of attempting to murder federal officials and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in connection with a plot to detonate what he believed to be a vehicle bomb at an Armed Forces recruiting center in Catonsville, Md..
December 15: Abdul Kadir was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a plot to bomb JFK International Airport in Queens, N.Y. In August 2010, Kadir and co-defendant Russell Defreitas were convicted of conspiring to attack JFK International Airport by exploding fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport. Another defendant, Abdel Nur, pleaded guilty before trial. A fourth alleged member of the plot, Kareem Ibrahim, faces trial on the same charges.