New York Police Department officials are dismissing video of a “Taliban suicide-bomber graduation” as “part of a media blitz intended to spread Taliban propaganda and raise the profile of the organization” rather than a real threat.
In a special analysis distributed this week to NYPD commanders, the department’s counter-terrorism division also downplays the Taliban’s capability of carrying out suicide attacks in the U.S. and Europe, as the Taliban commander suggested, saying they do not have the needed networks in the West and have no experience carrying out such attacks.
The arrests this week of key operatives of an Indonesian terrorist group is significant, says a senior U.S. counterterrorism official, but neither of the men were responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack in Indonesia, the December 2002 bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people, including five Americans.
The two -- Abu Dujana and Zarkasih -- were grabbed this week and identified as the leader and military commander of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian terrorist group blamed for the Bali bombing. However, the official said the U.S. does not believe the two men were part of the planning or execution of the attack.
"It's a serious setback," said the official. "I can tell you we're happy they're off the street. It's a significant event."
With Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to target missiles on Europe if the U.S. goes ahead with antimissile plans in Eastern Europe, what is the status of the world's nuclear arsenals? One would think that with the Cold War over for more than 15 years, the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Russia would be limited.
Estimates by the Federation of Atomic Scientists (FAS) put the number of nuclear weapons still operational in the two countries at more than 10,000 -- enough to destroy all human life many times over, but less than what it was during the height of the Cold War.
Google Maps new feature, "Street View," has a predecessor in the intelligence community. Street View incorporates stills taken by Google staff into their well known satellite photo/map format.
The CIA has been doing the same thing for years, to help their officers familiarize themselves with cities and other areas they had never visited and that may be closed to Americans.
The CIA would take satellite photos of an area and then create 3D videos. They'd also add to the experience by inserting stills their foreign agents had taken at ground level, or that the agency would have acquired elsewhere. Officers about to visit a new city could then sit in front of a screen and take a "virtual walk" down a street they had never visited, using a joystick much like a teenage boy would with a video game, crossing streets and turning corners.
The technology has existed for nearly 15 years. CIA visualization specialists talked with NBC's Jamie Gangel and me back in 1993.
Six men described by federal prosecutors as "Islamic militants" were arrested on charges they plotted to attack the Fort Dix Army base and "kill as many soldiers as possible," authorities said Tuesday.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official tells NBC News do not lose sight of the role the Internet played in inspiring these prospective jihadis. The FBI affidavits note that among the materials used in organizing, training and proselytizing the jihadis were al-Qaida training videos, the video wills of two 9-11 hijackers, and videos of U.S. soldiers being killed in Iraq.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush talked for the first time about the threat of Shia extremism, placing it and the leading Shia extremist group, Hezbollah, alongside Sunni extremism, and al-Qaida, as threats to the United States.
Speaking of al-Qaida, the President stated: "These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah, a group second only to al-Qaida in the American lives it has taken.
U.S. officials are providing more details about the impending resignation of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte and nomination of Adm. Mike McConnell.
The White House has been trying for more than a year to get Negroponte to take the No. 2 job at State and have McConnell replace him. On at least two, and possibly three occasions within the past 18 months, the White House approached each man about taking a new job.
NBC's Robert Windrem offers on our sister blog 'Hardblogger' his commentary on one of the most searing images of Saddam Hussein’s brutal reign, and also one of the first: a purloined Ba’ath Party video of the new Iraqi president watching as his henchmen arrested party members at a 1979 party conference in Baghdad.
Read the blog entry
FBI officials say they sent an advisory to local law enforcement agencies last week, informing them that the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman, could be near death. His death, the notice says, might lead to attempts at reprisal.
But today, officials say his condition improved and that he is now stable. They believe his death is no longer imminent. They also say they have no specific intelligence of any actual plan to attack the U.S. in retaliation.
Current and former U.S. officials say no U.S. intelligence agency ever targeted Princess Diana for intelligence collection.
Their comments follow stories over the weekend in British papers, reporting that U.S. intelligence agencies were spying on her. Some say her phone calls were being monitored, and some say specifically that it was done by the U.S. Secret Service. These stories are said to be based on the British report due out later this week on her death.
However, Homeland Security and U.S. Secret Service officials today say it is untrue that the Secret Service ever gathered intel information on Diana. "The Secret Service had nothing to do with it," the official says.
Separately, a former senior U.S. intelligence official says Princess Diana was never targeted for intelligence gathering in any way. But, the former official says, her voice MAY have been picked up while others were targeted. Even so, he says that as far as he knows, there were no intercepts of her in Paris the night she died, contrary to what the British papers are reporting.