Tag Archives: New York City

2 ISIS-inspired women arrested for bomb plot in NYC

Federal agents in the United States have arrested two women who allegedly planned to detonate a bomb in New York City after becoming radicalized by the self-styled Islamic State.

US citizens Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31 were arrested early Thursday in New York and each charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction resulting from a multi-year undercover operation waged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

According to the FBI, Velentzas and Siddiqui had been researching instructions on how to make homemade bombs and were considering detonating one inside the US as part of a domestic terrorist attack.

“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” Diego Rodriguez, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said in a statement Thursday. “We continue to pursue those who look to commit acts of terror and deter others who think they are beyond the reach of law enforcement.”

The FBI had been investigating the pair since at least May 2013, according to a sworn affidavit used to justify the arrests of the women this week, and began collecting intelligence on the two beginning in August 2014 when Velentzas and Siddiqui started conversing with an undercover agent. Together, the three traded recipes for explosives taken from online articles, studied chemistry textbooks and discussed past acts of terror, according to the FBI, and were weighing an attack of their own. The agency claims the public was never in danger.

All three met regularly from Aug. 2014 up until recently, according to the complaint, and Velentzas acknowledged to the undercover agent in one tape recorded conversation that the trio, in the eyes of federal authorities, “look like a cell.”

Court documents suggest the defendants had shared a Queens, NY apartment, but Siddiqui reportedly moved out recently and, according to the affidavit, had begun acquiring the ingredients needed to make an improvised explosive inside her new residence. She was “currently in possession of multiple propane gas tanks, as well as instructions for how to transform propane tanks into explosive devices,” as of Wednesday this week when the affidavit was filed in support of the arrests conducted early the next day.

Authorities say that Siddiqui become friends in 2009 with Samir Khan, an influential Al Qaeda member who has since been executed by a US-launched drone strike, and allege that she wrote a letter in 2011 to Mohamed Mohamud, a Somali-American man currently serving a 30-year prison for a failed Portland, Oregon car bomb plot.

On her part, Velentzas, her ex-roommate, considered former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to be a personal “hero,” according to authorities, and had discussed becoming a martyr to “receive Allah’s blessing.” She was “Facebook friends” with Tairod Pugh, a US Air Force vet currently under indictment for attempting to provide material support to the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and had confided in the undercover agent that she had been disgusted with the US, according to authorities.

READ MORE: FBI accuses Air Force vet of planning to join ISIS

The complaint unsealed this week alleges that the two women have espoused violent jihadist beliefs, according to the results thus far of the FBI’s lengthy investigation, and have repeatedly expressed interest in terrorist attacking committed within the US, perhaps more so in recent months amid the emergence ISIS. Velentzas told the undercover agent in one conversation that “attacks on ISIS were tantamount to attacks on her own state,” according to the complaint, and together the two watched videos of beheadings carried out by the extremist group.

When Pugh was arrested last month and accused of plotting a trip to Syria to join the ranks of ISIS, according to the complaint, Velentzas told the agent that there were more opportunities of “pleasing Allah” in the US than overseas, in her opinion.

“Identifying and disrupting such threats to public safety, whether at home or abroad, is the number one priority of the National Security Division and our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said in a statement.

Last week, the FBI announced that two men had been arrested in Illinois and charged with conspiring to attack the US from overseas on behalf of ISIS. One of the men, a current member of the Illinois National Guard, was arrested last Wednesday at Chicago’s Midway International Airport while attempting to board a flight destined to Cairo. There, authorities say, he hoped to travel to Syria and join up with the extremist group.

A New York Police Department official confirmed to CBS News that the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force made the arrests Thursday morning with the help of the NYPD. Velentzas and Siddiqui were expected to appear in court later in the afternoon.

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‘In Iraq the US is getting exactly what it wants’

Iraqi Shi’ite Turkmen fighters take part in an intensive security deployment in the town of Taza, south of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, June 19, 2014.

by – Caleb Maupin

The US wants no stable force in the Middle East, no opposition, no basis for anything that could become a stable economy, exporting oil and competing with it on the world markets, political analyst Caleb Maupin told RT.

RT:Obama said the US troops won’t be going back into combat on the ground in Iraq. Will he keep his promise?

Caleb Maupin: Many US military adventures began with so-called military advisors. The classic example is Vietnam. In recent history we have seen many examples of the US using so-called military advisors to advise local officials who actually do the fighting on behalf of the US. What’s very clear in the Iraq situation right now is that the US is attempting to form a sectarian war, not only in Iraq but in the entire Middle East. ISIS/ISIL is an organization that receives support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that ally with the US and have worked to form and fund this kind of extremist terrorist organization and send them to Syria, engaging in civil war, and now they are in Iraq. This fighting is very helpful to the US because it makes sure that there is no stable opposition to the US and there are no stable competitors in the world market. The US wants chaos in the Middle East and this latest episode with the ISIS and sending advisors is an example of the US achieving its aim of chaos, fighting and leaving instability in the Middle East in order to remove competitors in the oil market.

RT: Around 300 so-called military advisers have been sent by Washington to Iraq. Are they really just advisers?

CM: Military advisors in Africa and different parts of the world that the US sends, they generally play the role of organizing proxy forces, forces that do what the US wants to be done. They kind of play a central role in directing them, telling them where to go. 300 military advisors could get quite a bit done in order to achieve the aims that the Pentagon would like to achieve. They work with local forces and give them a direction, that’s what generally the military advisors do.

RT: The US President also stressed the Iraq crisis should be solved politically… Hasn’t the situation already passed that point?

CM: Absolutely. The US is attempting to ferment a sectarian civil war throughout the Middle East and it is achieving it very effectively. The support for ISIS from Saudi Arabia, the fighting now between the ISIS and the Maliki government – this is exactly what the US wants. It wants no stable force in the Middle East, no opposition, no basis for anything that could become a stable economy, exporting oil and competing with the US on the world markets. This is the US getting exactly what it wants.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst who lives in New York City, and is an activist with the International Action Center and Workers World Party. He was part of the Occupy Wall Street mo

مسرب وثائق “ويكيليكس” يخرج عن صمته ويتهم أمريكا بالكذب بشأن العراق

Last US Military Convoy Departs Iraqأتلانتا، الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية :

كسر الجندي الأمريكي برادلي مانينغ، الذي يقضي  عقوبة بالسجن لتسريب وثائق إلى موقع “ويكيليكس”، صمته بهجوم ناري على الولايات المتحدة، متهما إياها بالكذب بشأن العراق

تواري مانينغ، عن الأنظار بعد الحكم عليه بالسجن 35 عاما، لتسريبه 750 ألف صفحة من الوثائق السرية إلى “ويكيليكس”، وأعرب لاحقا عن رغبته في قضاء بقية حياته كامرأة وأطلق على نفسه اسم “تشيلسي

WikiLeaks Contributer Chelsea Manning

WikiLeaks Contributer Chelsea Manning

واتهمت “تشيلسي” في مقالة بصحيفة “نيويورك تايمز“، نشرت السبت، تحت عنوان “ماكينة ضباب الحرب“، متهما وسائل الإعلام الأمريكية بإشاحة وجهها بعيدا عندما سادت الفوضى والفساد في العراق وأفغانستان، مضيفا: “فيما انفجرت الحرب الأهلية في العراق، ومجددا، تفكر أمريكا في التدخل، هذه الأعمال غير المنجزة يجب أن تفرض سؤالا ملحا إزاء  كيفية سيطرة الجيش الأمريكي على التغطية الإعلامية خلال تورط الطويل هناك وفي أفغانستان”

وتابعت المقالة: “أعتقد أن القيود الحالية على حرية الإعلام وتكتم الحكومة الشديد، يجعلان من المستحيل على الأمريكيين استيعاب كامل ما يحدث في الحرب التي نمولها”

وأضافت “تشيلسي” في مقالتها: “قد تذكرون الإعلام الأمريكي الذي غص بقصص تعلن نجاح الانتخابات العراقية، وصور نساء وهن يستعرضن بفخر أصابعهن الملطخة بحبر الانتخابات.. كان معناها الضمني نجاح عمليات الجيش الأمريكي في خلق عراق مستقر وديمقراطي.. أما نحن المتمركزون هناك كنا ندرك تماما أن الحقيقة أكثر تعقيدا”

وأشارت إلى تلقيها تقارير بانتظام بتفاصيل عمليات قمع أمنية ضد معارضين نفذت نيابة عن رئيس الوزراء، نوري المالكي، مضيفة: “صعقت من تواطؤ جيشنا في الفساد بتلك الانتخابات.. ورغم ذلك فأن تلك التفاصيل المقلقة للغاية مرت تحت رادار الإعلام الأمريكي”

والجمعة، استبعد الرئيس الأمريكي، باراك أوباما، إرسال قوات إلى العراق، في معرض تأكيده بأنه يدرس خيارات أخرى مطروحة ستدعم بها إدارته الحكومة العراقية للتصدي لـ”داعش”، رهن تقديمها بحل قاد العراق خلافتهم السياسية، وهو مطلب أعاد وزير خارجيته، جون كيري، تكريره

ويرى معارضو أوباما أن عدم رغبة الرئيس تقديم مساعدات عسكرية مهمة لقوات المعارضة السورية خلال تصديها للقوات الموالية للنظام، سهل لـ”الدولة الإسلامية في العراق وبلاد الشام” مهاجمة العراق

وكانت محكمة قد قضت بعقوبة السجن 35  عاما على “تشيلسي” بعد إدانته بتهريب وثائق سرية، وبرأته من أخطر التهم ضده وهي مساعدة العدو

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NYC court unable to find impartial jury to decide Occupy Wall Street trial

Occupy Wall Street protesters march along 47th Street in New York September 17, 2013.

An Occupy Wall Street protester facing seven years in prison for an alleged 2012 assault may wait even longer to hear her fate as New Yorkers have proven to be so divided on the issue that finding impartial jurors has so far been nearly impossible.

Jury selection in the trial of Cecily McMillan began on Monday but has gone on longer than anticipated because attorneys on both sides of the case have been unable to agree on a juror pool willing to approach the case with a fresh perspective. The trial is the last criminal trial relating to the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.

McMillan, 25, is charged with assaulting a police officer during a March 17, 2012 protest in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. Prosecutors are expected to argue that McMillan intentionally assaulted Officer Grantley Bovell when he was making arrests at the demonstration. The young woman has maintained that she was unaware Bovell was a police officer and that she was only trying to fend off a man who grabbed her breast from behind.

Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011 with a small encampment in the heart of New York City’s financial district. The movement quickly multiplied, attracting demonstrators from throughout the world who rallied around the idea that the wealthiest one percent of the population had for too long taken advantage of the other 99 percent.

The “We are the 99%” slogan immediately made headlines and inspired countless other protests around the US and elsewhere in the world.

For all the talk about income inequality, though, the left-leaning Occupy movement has been as divisive as the Tea Party, its rival counterpart on the right. Nowhere was that divide more evident than in the movement’s birthplace, where bankers, lawyers, and executives walked past Occupiers’ tents and signs on their commute into offices located dozens of floors above.

That tension lasts through today, with prosecutors and defense attorneys quickly filing through prospective jurors for the McMillan trial. Alan Moore, one potential juror, told the court his wife worked on Wall Street as a bond strategist, so it would be difficult for him to judge McMillan’s actions with a clear lens.

“I like to think of myself as fair,” he said, as quoted by the Guardian, which first reported on the dilemma. “But in terms of Occupy Wall Street in general, I would give less credibility to that group than average…They seem to be people moving a little outside regular social norms and regular behavior. Therefore I don’t give them the same level of respect as people who follow the line.”

The notion was shared by many. The court hoped to fill the 12 juror seats by Monday’s end, although they were only able to fill seven of those seats by the time Tuesday came to a close.

“For 20 years, my occupation has been, in some fashion, on Wall Street,” said equity trader Jason McLean, who lives with his wife, also an equity trader, in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City. “Everything I believe – my morals – are kind of the antithesis of what they represent. I don’t know that I could be completely objective.”

Other possible jurors were excluded after reporting negative experiences with police in the past. Patrick Grigsby, who works as an actuary on the Upper West Side, was expelled when he admitted that learning Officer Bovell had been disciplined as part of the so-called “Bronx ticketing scandal” of 2011 would impede his view of the incident in question.

Martin Stolar, McMillan’s attorney, told the Guardian both he and his client are confident that the two sides would eventually “find the people who fit the profile” of impartiality. His co-counsel Rebecca Heinegg agreed.

“A surprising number of people are actually willing to say they can’t be fair,” she said.

The defense team previously told journalist Jon Swaine that McMillan was a frequent visitor to Zucotti Park and known for her peaceful disposition. She had brought a friend down to visit for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on the day when the incident with Bovell occurred. The young woman had bruises on her back, head, feet, and breasts that the defense says were incurred when Bovell assaulted her.

“An innocent woman is being accused of something that could send her to prison for seven years,” Stolar said outside a previous hearing in Manhattan. “She was leaving the park pursuant to the police department’s orders when she was brutally assaulted by a police officer and subsequently accused of assaulting that police officer.”

The prosecution, perhaps unsurprisingly, disagrees. A criminal complaint obtained by the New York Times claims that Bovell suffered “swelling and bruising and substantial pain to his left eye” in the confusion.

Jury selection is scheduled to resume Friday.

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Explosion and building collapse in Manhattan

Smoke is seen billowing from the site of an explosion at 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem on March 12, 2014.

Smoke is seen billowing from the site of an explosion at 116th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem on March 12, 2014.

The Fire Department of New York is on the scene of a fire at a large residential building in Upper Manhattan Wednesday morning after eyewitnesses reportedly heard an explosion at around 9:31 a.m. EST.

Firefighters were still fighting the blaze at 1646 Park Avenue in Harlem around an hour later, and eyewitnesses told Fox News that debris from the partial collapse had spread several blocks throughout the neighborhood.

Around that same time, the FDNY upgraded the incident to a four-alarm blaze and confirmed that it was being categorized as a “multiple dwelling explosion and collapse” being handled by upwards of 168 firefighters. On Twitter, one eyewitness said he was on his way to work when he came across the scene and saw nearby cars covered by bricks and glass.

It has yet to be confirmed whether or not any occupants remained inside the property, but a local hospital was reportedly treating at least 11 victims at a nearby emergency room.

The building is on the west side of Park Avenue in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood between 116 and 117 Street, and contained a piano store in addition to apartments.

Building in East Harlem after explosion in NYC

Building in East Harlem after explosion in NYC

The Metro-North railroad suspended service in and out of Grand Central Terminal in downtown Manhattan as a precaution.

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Syrian ambassador to UN restricted to 25-mile radius of New York City

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja’afari

The US State department has banned the movement of Syria’s UN delegation, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, to within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of New York City.

Jaafari has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006 and has been an unwavering supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 3-year long civil war. Jaafari has not yet commented on the restriction.

The United States has not given a reason for the travel ban, but State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, said that such travel limits were not unheard of.

“UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius. So this is not something out of the realm of what we’ve done before,” she told reporters in Washington.

North Korean and Iranian diplomats are also restricted to a 25-mile radius of the Columbus Intersection in Manhattan.

Last year Jaafari complained to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the UN’s double standards in the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which he said did not condemn the crimes of foreign backed terrorists on Syrian soil.

Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fell apart last month, with both sides repeating their previous positions and blaming each other for the impasse.

Observers also note that the Syrian opposition has now become deeply fragmented and radicalized and is not represented by those attending the Geneva peace talks.

 

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Train derailment in New York City leaves four dead, dozens injured; NTSB investigating – The Washington Post

Federal investigators are in New York to determine why a Manhattan-bound Metro-North passenger train spun out of control early Sunday in the Bronx, killing four people and propelling dozens of passengers out of their seats as Thanksgiving crowds headed home on one of the busiest travel days of the year, authorities said.

A “full team” of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived from Washington on the scene at 12:30 p.m. to find seven cars and the locomotive derailed, NTSB representative Earl Weener said in an evening news conference near the crash site — along the Harlem River and just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station — while helicopters circled above.

At least 63 people were injured, 11 of them listed in critical condition. The crash is thought to be the deadliest train wreck in New York City since 1991, when five people were killed and more than 150 were injured in a subway train derailment in Lower Manhattan, authorities said
Weener, speaking next to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), said several federal teams — including experts on tracks, signaling and breaking — would be investigating for a week to 10 days.

“Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again,” Weener said.

In response to media questions about reports that the train conductor said the brakes had failed and that the train was being pushed by a locomotive, making it harder to stop, Weener said: “We don’t know at this point. We will be looking at it.”

Investigators will be looking at the train’s speed and had already recovered the data recorder, he said. Several passengers told the news media that the train appeared to be going too fast around the curve when it skidded off the tracks and sent some passengers flying into the air, tumbling over one another.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority identified the victims as Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens. Three of them were found outside the train and one was inside, authorities said. Autopsies are scheduled for Monday.

Cuomo said the train operator was being treated for injuries and was talking with officials.

“This is an opportunity for the NTSB to review the operation,” Cuomo said. “As I said before, safety is job one. And if there is a lesson to learn, we want to make sure we learn it. It’s a reminder to all of us that life is a precious gift and take everyday as that.”

Many passengers told reporters they were sleeping or listening to music on Train 8808, which departed at 5:54 a.m. from Poughkeepsie and was due to arrive at Grand Central Terminal at 7:43 a.m.

They said they experienced a harrowing awakening after they heard screeching metal. One car flipped down a riverbank, inches from where the Harlem River meets the Hudson. New York Police Department scuba divers, along with helicopter crews and trained dogs, searched for survivors.

Many passengers were coming home from Thanksgiving weekends. Others were on their way to work, including an injured female New York City police officer in her 20s.

Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano told reporters that there were about 100 people on the train, adding that the toll would have been worse if the accident had occurred later on the busy travel day or during the workweek. “On a workday, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster,” he said

At the White House, President Obama said his “thoughts and prayers” went out to the injured and the loved ones of those killed.

This is the train service’s second passenger-train derailment in six months, during a year that has seen a string of safety problems.

The troubles for the commuter train system began May 17, when an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., and was hit by a westbound train in a crash that injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor. Eleven days later, track foreman Robert Luden was struck and killed by a train in West Haven, Conn. It was the first time in more than four years that a Metro-North worker had been fatally struck by a train.

In an “urgent safety recommendation,” the NTSB said that a trainee rail-traffic controller had opened a section of track without the proper clearance.

This month, Metro-North’s chief engineer, Robert Puciloski, told NTSB investigators that the railroad is “behind in several areas,” including a five-year maintenance schedule, which has not been conducted in the area of the Bridgeport derailment since 2005.

“It would appear the train was clearly going too fast on the curve,” said City Council member Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx). “I take this train every morning, and they always slow on this curve. On first look, it appears the operator was going way too fast.”

Television images showed passengers emerging from the train bleeding and scratched.

Michael Keaveney, 22, a security worker who lives in a co-op apartment building overlooking the crash site, said he could not believe what he saw.

“I was dead asleep and heard a loud boom,” said Keaveney, who was reached by phone. “I could see four cars flipped over. It was shocking. My mother called 911 and I got dressed and ran down to see if I could help, but firefighters were already there.”

In July, a CSX freight train hauling trash derailed in the same area because of a track issue, but no one was injured. Keaveney said he witnessed the train flip over in that accident. “It makes me grateful that I have a car,” he said.

Joel Zaritsky of Poughkeepsie awoke early to catch the 5:54 a.m. train so he could attend a dental convention in New York. He was asleep when he was thrown to the other side of the train.

“There was smoke everywhere and debris,” he said, showing a crowd of media his bloody right hand. “I still can’t believe it. I’m very happy to be alive.”

Train derailment in New York City leaves four dead, dozens injured; NTSB investigating – The Washington Post.